Title: Free at Last
Author: Marcel Becker
Major Themes: Crime, Criminals, California
Synopsis: Marcel Becker led a life of crime and being hunted, in and out of prison—until the day he found himself a father and realized that his children would be destroyed if he didn’t make a drastic change.
I always enjoy a good memoir. It’s interesting to read what a person wants to tell about his or her own life, and what he or she emphasizes. When I see a memoir offered for review, I often take a second look at it. Free at Last sounded like a very interesting story, so I signed up for it.
Marcel grew up “on the wrong side of the tracks.” His father suffered from PTSD and took it out on his younger son, who found himself continually being beaten for no real reason. Though his mother loved him, Marcel left home as soon as he could find a way, and quickly became involved in a life of crime and drugs. Going into and out of prison was soon a way of life for him, and eventually, the FBI sent a whole task force after him. Then one day, two of Marcel’s children were dumped on him by their mother. What was he to do now?
Marcel’s life changed nearly overnight when he became responsible for two frightened children. He knew he did not want them to have the same kind of life he had always had; what should he do now? He began looking for honest work, and soon found he had to start at the bottom. He clawed his way to the top—only to find it didn’t satisfy.
I’ll have to say, I didn’t enjoy the first 33% or so of Free at Last. It is not fun to read about crime and prison life and beating people up and getting beaten up. Marcel did not go into too much graphic detail, though, so it wasn’t too bad. I appreciated seeing him become an honest working man and making good in business, but by the time I reached 78% through the book I was starting to wonder if this was really a Christian book! I’m glad to say that the change in Marcel’s life, the candor with which he describes his Christian walk, and the church challenges he faced, are inspiring. At one point, he says, “I stopped going to church. And in retrospect, that turned out to be a very, very bad decision.” I would say that if anyone had a good reason for quitting church, he did—and yet after a time he saw the need for fellowship.
Here are a few more quotes that stood out to me:
But to say that I struggled is to say that I was alive and kicking. You only struggle when you’re fighting against something.
Let me tell you something; freedom isn’t just roaming around doing whatever you want to.
And when you’re trying to do the right thing, that’s a breath of fresh air because you don’t have anything to hide.
If you are interested in hearing a man candidly telling about his life, the good and the bad, the struggles, the failures, and the triumphs, read Free at Last. This book is inspiring. When I first started reading it, I wasn’t sure I would like it at all; I mentally prepared myself to struggle through it. It turned out to be very interesting, though, and a fairly quick read for me.
I received a review copy of this book from CelebrateLit, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Chapter 11—beating up a prison guard. Heck and dang and hell are used occasionally throughout the book.