A great book tells a great story, but a great story does not necessarily equal out to a great book. I’ve read plenty of autobiographies in my day where the stories were good, but when they were translated to book form, the book was underwhelming, disappointing and/or flat-out trash. However, there is none of that in the recent autobiography on Michael Vick titled “Finally Free.”
Vick and his co-authors do a solid job of setting up Vick’s story, from his time growing up in Newport News to Blacksburg at Virginia Tech. The story and book move at a smooth pace, and they all do a great job of presenting visuals that you can process along with the words. His story is one that is all-too-familiar for kids in similar situations: complicated upbringing with a large family and even more love in the home. That same love was prevalent when he headed to Virginia Tech and became a Hokie as well.
Once he gets to Atlanta, the changes start to surface, and Vick is as candid as possible detailing them. He speaks about the adjustments to fame, his obstacles dealing with money and his maturation process as a budding pro. For people who are familiar with his story, the level of honesty in this book is refreshing, and it definitely is evident in its tone, as Vick does a convincing job of showing his growth, as well as his transgressions, which led to his most infamous public act: dog fighting.
If there was ever a time when one would think the book would try to hide his acts, his role in the operation or its impact, then it would be here. However, there is none of that from Michael Vick. He owns up to everything, explaining how he got involved in dog fighting, the conflicting feelings that came with it and his own screw-ups when it came to his eventual arrest and professional demise. He comes off as extremely thoughtful and remorseful, which, for people who are familiar with the written text, is not exactly the easiest thing to do. By that, I mean that people can apologize all day, even in writing, and it does not mean those apologies translate to sincerity. In this book, it does.
Vick is candid about his time in jail and his time in prison and illustrates details in such a way where even people who may not want to paint pictures in their minds will be hard-pressed not to. The pain he caused his loved ones and himself is illustrated sincerely and thoughtfully, and his vows to eradicate the activities he was involved in, and how, are spelled out plainly as well.
The book also goes into detail about his experiences, post-prison, which are nothing short of remarkable. Through it all, the book maintains its authenticity, which is the most important quality to me. "Finally Free" can be seen as a story of redemption, as well as a cautionary tale. It can be interpreted as therapeutic for individuals who have been through similar circumstances or as a literary work that can be required reading for budding high school, college and professional athletes. However the book is interpreted, "Finally Free" can serve a purpose, which is definitely for the greater good — a solid story and an even more solid work of writing.