Young Millie Reynolds longs to be free of shameful secrets. Turning away from her abusive father, she finds acceptance when a band of gypsies travels through town. But when tragedy strikes, Millie joins a prominent family---and discovers painful truths about her background. Will she find healing in the love of the God she thinks abandoned her?
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Customer Reviews for Into the Free: A Novel - eBook
Review 1 for Into the Free: A Novel - eBook
Date:October 23, 2013
It sends out the message of God's love adequately.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from www.bookfun.org As I was reading page after page, I kept ruminating about what the author was trying to convey in the tale. When I came to the end, all the pieces fell into place for me, and I realized the message was veiled on purpose. Sometimes when the end comes and the theme or message is unveiled that is also when the joy of having read the book can be realized. Perhaps other readers catch on quicker to what the message was, but it took me till the end and I was astounded. The story is told from the point of view of a young girl growing up in a less than idealistic home life. Instead of being cared for, she ends up being the caretaker of her mother for most of her early years. Inside her heart she is searching, but for what or whom Millie is not quite able to put her finger on it. Through other background characters and life experiences she sees life as trying to make sense of what is seen from afar. Years later in a year that totally changes her life, she dares to hope and dream of finding her deepest heart’s desire fulfilled. The people she tries to trust and let them know her aren’t able to get any closer than what Millie determines is safest. When Millie’s world is again rocked by an event that will forever be a part of her memories, she wonders if the future will be a mirror of either of her parents. I don’t want to take away the joy of the journey in discovering the meaning or theme, so I’ll not write any more about the plot. As you read, what speaks to you may not be what spoke to my heart and that is another reason for not revealing some other pieces of the book or characters. What I can say is that it truly reflects one message we all need be reminded of…that no matter what happens to us this side of heaven we have choices. We may not always know why we have had a particular tragedy or surprise come along, but really that isn’t where our eyes should stay fixed. There is more going on around us that is unseen than seen. When Mountains Move is the sequel to Into the Free, and I will review that novel soon too. I can’t wait to see what continues to happen with Millie’s saga. Into the Free is a special novel for me as it speaks to my heart about the path we are on this side of heaven, as well as the need for leaving behind us words that others can read that might just lead them to God.
I really wanted to read this book... and I'll admit that part of it was the cover. There's something lonely and soul-stirring about it. The cover of Into the Free features a single figure walking along a dirt road with fields on the side. It is a Southern environment, with flower blossoms around the edges. She is setting off into the unknown, shoulders squared, and she is carrying a heavy bag that weighs her down.
The other reason I knew I had to read this book was the reviews: I had heard that this book dealt with powerful themes. That Into The Free is the kind of book that helps you grow though the reading of it, that in this story you to meet people that never leave your memory, and that you will want to know both God and your fellow man better after your reading journey.
Those statements about this book are true. Into The Free is the sort of book that leaves me asking "How does the author do that... how does she write so well that some parts of the book hurt to read, and some parts fill you with hope?" What a gift Mrs. Cantrell has! When I opened the pages of this book, it was like opening the very door to Millie's world.
And Millie's world overwhelms me when I think about it: such a young girl navigating a youth of storm clouds and pitch-black swirling waters that threaten to drown her, the way they seem to drown her mother and father. Millie loves her mother, and tries her hardest to love her father, but she is just a child and can't carry those burdens by herself! She can't understand what made her family the way it is.
A moment surrounded by joy and acceptance comes from the Gypsies that return to town every year. An old Babushka gypsy and a young man named River both draw Millie... and both have so much life in them. Their life spills over into Millie.
In the author's note, Julie Cantrell said that Into the Free was her love song to Mississippi. I found that fascinating. That is a perfect description of what she created when she wrote this book. A love song spun around a place and a time and a young girl living and growing... and most of all the process of healing.
Thank you to David C Cook Publishers, to Karen and Lisa, for sending me my copy to review!
How do I write a review for this book and keep it under five pages long? I find myself without words to express the treasures found on the pages of this novel and its sequel. I read this book, one I wouldn’t normally pick out on my own, and it’s written in first person point of view, which isn’t my favorite, but I am so captivated by the life of this little girl, Millie, that I cannot put the book down. And when I do, all I can think about is her story. And when I sleep, I have dreams about this girl who is stuck in such a horrible life but is able to use her incredible imagination to pull herself into a better place.
This novel reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird. The way it is written, the time period and even the setting. A girl who learns from watching, listening, reading, and uses all of that to make herself strong. The only way to do this review justice, I believe, is to share bits and pieces from it. Julie Cantrell has a magical way of writing and I want to share a taste of it with you.
Millie Reynolds grows up in difficult circumstances, an abusive father, and a mom who chooses to stay with him. Through all the questions that go through this little girls mind after watching the beatings her father dishes out to her mom, and watching her mom stay put, Millie stays strong and remembers the good. The good like her Mother’s love.
“That’s the other thing I believe without a doubt. That Mama loves me. Always. Not just in spring, when things are golden bright, and the stars fall to her feet, but all year round. Even when the heavens tease her. I knew it then, as I know it now. Mama loves me even as she is falling apart.” –chapter 8
She thinks back to before it got so bad. “That was a time when miracles were as real to me as the coins in my pocket. Tangible, solid little orbs that slid between my fingers.”- chapter 26
Yet, life throws her one horrible tragedy after another. She survives each one, but has a hard time believing her mama’s God doesn’t have it out for her. Each time it gets harder and harder to have faith, but she still looks for it and yearns for it. “When I finally release my fear, I feel as though I’m in that old safe place again, sitting in the bends of Sweetie’s branches, connecting to a powerful force. All-knowing.” Chapter 30 (Sweetie is the name of her special tree she grew up climbing in.)
Millie is brought into a place where she can feel God’s very presence. “For years, I have searched and searched for this God. This feeling of complete love and acceptance. He was always out of reach. But here, where food is scarce, money is tight, heat is heavy, and tensions should run high, God is everywhere.”
Then another real life nightmare attacks. After everything, and all of her searching, more scars are layered upon the others in her heart. “But here’s the truth. I also don’t want to feel afraid for the rest of my life. I don’t want to live around my scars. I don’t want to be a victim. Not one second more. I want control of my own life. I’m tired of the fear.”
I have many more quotes marked that I would like to share, but this review is already much longer than my average one. And I don’t want to share too much of the book. But this story of a girl, as she grows up through horrendous situations and still searches for God is just an amazing, heart touching story.
There is romance. There is mystery. Some parts are suspenseful. It is historical. But most of all it is moving. This book will stay with me, Millie’s story will stay with me. And whenever someone asks how there can be a loving God through all the pain in this world, I will be reminded of this girl’s story. And her story does not end with this book. The sequel holds more for her to learn and grow. Just like in life, things hit us, and we must continue on. How we do so is our choice.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from bookfun.org for my honest opinion.www.TMWoodsBooks.com/blog. The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. Also follow me on Twitter @TMWoodsBooks, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/TMWoodsBooks.
Just a girl. The only one strong enough to break the cycle.
In Depression-era Mississippi, Millie Reynolds longs to escape the madness that marks her world. With an abusive father and a "nothing mama," she struggles to find a place where she really belongs.
For answers, Millie turns to the Gypsies who caravan through town each spring. The travelers lead Millie to a key that unlocks generations of shocking family secrets. When tragedy strikes, the mysterious contents of the box give Millie the tools she needs to break her family's longstanding cycle of madness and abuse.
Through it all, Millie experiences the thrill of first love while fighting to trust the God she believes has abandoned her. With the power of forgiveness, can Millie finally make her way into the free?
Saturated in Southern ambiance, Julie Cantrell has created Into the Free—now a New York Times Best Seller—a story that will sweep you away long after the novel ends.
This novel is absolutely amazing. It took my breath away to think that one person could handle this much abuse and survive. The secrets she hides because she is ashamed of her past is just so sad and just broke my heart to read about. When she experiences her first love I couldn't help but cheer for her and want the best for her. And when she discovers why her life is the way it is, she desperately needs God on her side to help her break the cycle of abuse and sin in her family.
Cantrell wrote a novel that will shed light into the human condition, and if you've even walked a mile in Millie's shoes, I recommend this book as a work that will greatly encourage the healing process. Quite surprisingly, I understood Millie's point of view more than I ever thought possible. I wanted to reach out to her somehow and tell her that with God's love everything that ever went wrong in her life could be salvaged and she could be free form her past forever. A wonderful story of the power of forgiveness, and what it means to come out of the other side.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
Into the Free is a story that draws you into the life of Millie, the main character. A book you do not want to put down. A story of heartbreaking tragedies, abuse, faith and love. People that crossed her path who live a life totally different from hers and how she was drawn to them. I love the way Julie Cantrell writes. A gifted author. A great book. Also read the sequel When Mountains Move. "Great".
Received the book free from David C. Cook through bookfun.org for my honest opinion and review
Into the Free, by the way I love that name, has so much that I can identify with. No, I did not have the exact same experiences that Millie did, but I remember feeling some of the same feelings she had at nine years old. I also have had experiences visiting in Mississippi after some of my family moved there, had a niece born there. The whole atmosphere is different there from where I grew up. I visited mostly in the Delta, and down by the shore, but I did get to did experience driving through some of their forests. Millie was only nine years old when her best friend Sloth died. Sloth was an older man who lived close, but he was there for her whenever she needed him, unlike either of her parents. Millie’s Mama always was either very sad, or in bed after having taken medicine to make her forget everything. She also took in ironing to make extra money. Jack, her Dad, was gone a lot working at a rodeo for his boss, who also owned the small home they lived in. Jack was a very angry abusive man and he hurt her Mama a lot. Millie always thought there were secrets there somewhere. Millie had other adventures after Sloth died, meeting new people who influenced her life. One in a completely unexpected way. Millie had trouble even thinking about God because she felt He never listened to her or helped her, so it's good to watch her grow. My favorite section of the book is "You know what's special about these flowers?" she asks, handing me a petal from the bouquet I brought her and bending to smell it's sweet breath. "They're one of the first to bloom?" I guess. "Well, that's special for sure, but there's something else." Mama says, rubbing her smooth finger across my back to spell out the letters D-O-G-W-O-O-D. "Remember when Jesus was nailed to the cross?" I nod, never tiring of Mama's stories."It was made from a dogwood tree." I have always loved dogwoods. There were places in this book that I shed a tear or two, and some where I couldn't quit smiling. I am ready right now to read the next book When Mountains Move, can't wait.
Incredible!! That's the first word that comes to mind when I try to describe this book. It's been a long time since I read a story that flowed so well and made me wish I could read faster, but yet I didn't want it to end. Cantrell's exquisite ability to paint a picture with words is astounding.
Fortunately, there is a sequel to this book, called When Mountains Move. I am excited to start reading it next.
If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. It's that good!
I received a copy of Into the Free directly from the publisher as a thank you for reading and reviewing When Mountains Move.
I’ve read few books as engrossing as Into the Free. I was hooked from the first chapter. The writing is excellent as it tells the story of a young girl in a small Mississippi town, as she learns that everything isn’t always how it seems and that everyone has secrets. Her father is abusive and her mother, too heartbroken to care about much of anything. You get to see life from Millie’s point of view as she tries to hold her family together and learns strength and how to trust through the losses life keeps throwing her way. This book has four stars because of the great writing and the fabulous details the author included. I didn’t particularly enjoy the story and it is not a favorite of mine. It almost had me crying in parts and while the realism is great, I had a hard time dealing with all that Millie went through. The author could’ve stopped it anywhere instead of taking the story in the direction she did. I don’t understand her choice, but it is just that, her choice. I also have a hard time with the fact that while Into the Free is listed as a Christian book, Millie never really “found” God. She spends the whole book remembering things her mother has talked about regarding the Bible, but never really makes a decision one way or the other. She prays occasionally and her mother quotes scripture to her, but she still has these odd ideas that don’t match up with any Christian faith I’ve heard of. I honestly don’t understand that part at all. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a clean, thought provoking read. I received this book through The Book Club Network for my honest review, which I have given. Note: please do not let my opinions prevent you from reading this book. That is not in any way my intention with this review. I do not wish to hurt the author or discourage anyone from reading Into the Free.
Into The Free by Julie Cantrell From the book club chat I was to receive When Mountains Move and was surprised to get this book also. This is the first book in the series so I read it first. Then I'll read and review When Mountains Move. I wanted to read this book because of the summary of the book-travel to a place I've never been to. Book starts out with Millie and she lives in MS with her mother and father. Jack rides in the rodeo and is usually not at home. Marie does laundry and other chores for the people on the plantation. Although they live in servants cabins they have a deal with Mr. Sutton and pay a monthly rent. Her life is described on a daily basis of the places she goes around the woods and fields to her neighbor Sloth who allows her to accompany him on his chores-collecting eggs for the master Sutton and other chores. She hides when her mother is beaten and finally gets up the nerve to see her father at his rodeo show. Accidents happen and she was lucky to meet River, a gypsy who travel through town once a year. She learns from the old woman that she has to find out about her past before the future can be shown to her. She finds the box and the old woman gives her the key-a Pandora's box of sorts. She confronts her mother as to the meaning of all the items in the box-her past. She learns so much about her other families and realizes why they don't accept her into their lives. Circumstances leave her in the care of the Millers and she finds out secrets about them and her mother. When a tragic event occurs she makes up her mind and tracks down where her mother was taken to so she can get anything she left for her. She confides in Mabel throughout the story and they have a treasured friendship. She has a choice to make: go with River the gypsy on his journey or go with Bump and Mr. Tucker who run the rodeo and shows as they have taken care of her and her family for everything she ever needed. Not sure if her decision is the right one... What I really liked was the very detailed descriptions of the land and learning new things about the horses and the ways of they gypsies. I received this book from Book Club Network (bookfun.org) in exchange for my honest review.
Abuses to self determination, beautifully written!
Date:August 12, 2013
INTO THE FREE by Julie Cantrell is a beautifully written story about a couple of definitely un-beautiful subjects. Domestic abuse and neglect within a family, and Christians all about "show and rules" rather than the Biblical love of Christ where Christ chooses a relationship with people rather than religion of "snotty attitudes" of man made rules.
Millie is a southern girl , daughter of a star rodeo rider and a drug dependent mother. Her father spends much of the time on the road with the rodeo---thankfully-- because when he comes home he spends most of his time degrading and beating her mom. Though he doesn't beat Millie, he makes it very clear that he considers her worthless, unless he is calling her derogatory names. She spends most of her time with her elderly neighbor, or up in her special tree. Though her grandfather is a minister, his "correctness" and abuse to the "imperfect Christian" shows everything that Christ refers to as ( Luke 6:42)--"how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."
The book covers Millie's life from a pre-teen to a 17 year old. Explaining more about her difficult, but interesting life would give too much of the book away, but suffice it to say, the author tells a beautifully different and painful story of Julie's life from abuses, to her freedom to determine her own life. There are rodeo people, horse trainers, gypsies, helpful ghosts, romances, a different baptism, and painfully sad abuses that add up to this wonderful book.
Characterization, story telling, and plot development at it's very best. So real and heartbreaking, yet so full of the greatest hope possible!
This book is not your usual easy read to take to the beach. It deals with difficult issues and portrays christians in a variety of ways, some not very Christ like. Millie has had to deal with abuse, abandonment and rejection all her life, but has had some teaching and healing relationships also. The emotion and feeling Julie Catrell has put into the writing of this book touches a deep part of the reader. It is not a sterotypical "christian" boy meets girl story, but it is real life with all it's problems. I will definately look forward to Julie Catrell's next book.
The bottom line: I have no recollection of being so powerfully moved by written words in my lifetime.
I read the first four chapters after a long day at the office, when I greatly desired only to sleep. I forced myself to put the book away, only after awakening my bride to share a few passages with her. I rationalized savoring the experience, meting out only a few chapters a night. Instead, I finished the book. I cried no less than three times. I stopped to get into the floor and play with my kid, tears in my eyes, and to hold him- telling him that I love him. Mrs. Cantrell's Millie Reynolds represents to me hundreds of victims of domestic abuse/neglect and child witnesses of domestic violence that have streamed through my office seeking therapeutic services. My tears and anguish for Millie are the tears I've never let myself cry for them- the depth of pain that I felt here something professional boundaries limit me from in my practice.
Julie writes with an authenticity and genuineness that perfectly captures the experience of many children who grow up in violent homes. Millie's growth from child to late adolescent in the book tracks perfectly with the psychologic development of kids in her position. I've developed workshops and delivered countless trainings in this particular subject area. With Into the Free, I could instead take a front row seat in Julie's classroom, witnessing firsthand, transfixed, the personification of everything I've ever learned from my clients about their experience. One of my favorite professors described empathy as walking with our clients, trying to understand their experience. With the characters in this book, I was able to walk a mile in their shoes- wanting desperately to flee from the text, but unable to abandon the young protagonist when she was so desperately alone.
I am considering making this book required reading for a class that I teach at a local university. There is no better way to experience the journey of so many of the people we work with. For those blessed to never live in Millie's circumstance, it offers insight into the human condition. For those who have or still do, it may offer some roadmap to healing their own invisible wounds.
This is an outstanding read, its characters complex and evolving. It is easy to love young Millie Reynolds, to be afraid for her, to cheer for her, to want to hold her tightly until the storms in her life pass. The reader is treated to an age-accurate view of the world that matures as Millie does- from a dichotomous perspective that categorizes people as good or bad, to one more accurately reflecting the people that we all are- significantly more than can be described with a few adjectives.
Buy this book- the publisher guarantees to credit your purchase price if you don't believe it worth the time most will certainly invest into it. My warning: don't buy it if you are afraid to connect with the protagonist at a visceral level. I don't suspect many will read the book without going through a spectrum of emotions.
Load a shotgun with prayer and aim at a story. Pull the trigger and pepper the pages with prayer. That's the only way Into the Free can be categorized as Christian. I absolutely hated that I bought this book and wasted my money on something that rates up there with the NYT's bestsellers that contain erotica and language. Did this have bad language, no. Erotica? Borderline. At the end, the description of the rape scene was borderline graphic! Appalling that any Christian book seller would pass this off as a wonderfully written Christian book! I don't need to know that he opened her dress, or that his weight was upon her, or that he called out her mother's name three times. I didn't need to know that he stood and fastened his pants! Hint at the scene, show the shame or the denial afterwards. DON'T give me details because I do not want that image stuck in my mind, but thank you, Ms. Cantrell. When I see your title, my mind replays the rape scene vividly, no matter how hard I try to push it from my memory. I will not recommend your book to anyone, nor read another. You used eloquent words and you have a gift, but you marred it by compromising to the world's ways.
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Review 15 for Into the Free: A Novel - eBook
A powerful story of forgiveness & renewed strength
Into the Free by Julie Cantrell is a compelling read which will have you crying out for someone to help young Millie before all hope is destroyed. Her real name is Millicent, a name her abusive father believes aptly describes her because, in his eyes, she isn’t even worth a cent. Throughout her childhood, Millie will live in fear of the days his truck will speed up the drive, meaning he’s back from the rodeo, and if her mother is in one of her “dark spells,” soon Jack’s anger will explode in violence. The young girl’s stability and protection seems to come from their neighbor, Sloth, and her hiding place in the sweet gum tree. Then Sloth dies, her mother slips further and further into the pain numbing world of drugs, and Millicent grows up feeling isolated and hopeless. This book has so many contradictions between what is and what should be that you could talk about those oxymorons for hours. Her mother has been totally abandoned by her own parents, the Reverend and Mrs. Applewhite, even when they know how desperate her life is. Millie has always seen her father as a monster, but when she finally has the courage to follow him to the rodeo, she finds a man who is respected for his talent and who is liked for his good nature. How can the two be the same man? And her mother is the biggest oxymoron of all. She holds tight to her faith in God, can quote almost any Bible verse, yet she buries all her pain with the shot of the needle, leaving Millicent to tread alone. Then later in the story, when sixteen year old Millie is truly an orphan, her godly grandparents deny her, the goody-goodies of the town suspect her Choctaw heritage, and the upstanding banker who takes her into his family assaults her, leaving the young girl to question God’s existence. She cries out to challenge Him and to rant against His absence, especially after her brutal attack. But the destructive forces cannot defeat Millicent and she’ll find God’s true presence as she accepts offers of unconditional love and comes to understand the power of forgiveness which delivers her Into the Free. Julie Cantrell’s website includes insightful discussion questions, ones to be considered even if you read the book alone and not with a book club. Cantrell does include a spoiler alert to not read the discussion questions before finishing the book. I welcome a Christian fiction writer who tackles tough topics, who does not sugar coat our faith, and who is willing to point out the destructive effects of those who hide behind empty beliefs. I hope Cantrell continues to write in this vein. I received an advanced readers copy of this title for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. I did not receive any compensation for this review.
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Review 16 for Into the Free: A Novel - eBook
READ THIS BOOK!!!!
Date:February 27, 2012
This book was wonderfully written and kept me up at night! I could not put it down. It is an amazing book that everyone needs to read!!!
Into The Free by Julie Cantrell stole my heart. This beautiful story captivated me from the start. I could not put this book down. I was completely enthralled by it. The characters, language and imagery combined with a crescendo of emotions. This story depicts life, death, loss, longing, love, hope and mostly forgiveness.
The story centralizes on the life of Millie Reynolds in Depression-era Mississippi. Unfortunately, Millie goes through a myriad of tragic and heartbreaking experiences. One could not help but sympathize with her. At such a young age, she was faced many unfortunate circumstances and decisions. One wrong decision or turn could ultimately effect the rest of her life.
Julie Cantrell's writing style is one that flows. Like a waltz, one sentence, paragraph and chapter dancing into the next; smoothly and without interruption. I was able to visualize every nuance, facial expression, mood and unspoken word. The story is poignant and moved me to tears.
Julie Cantrell is a virtuoso who orchestrated a literary masterpiece. She uses words on paper much like an artist strokes a canvas or a musician plucks the strings of a human heart.
I commend Julie Cantrell for an absolutely beautiful debut. She is a gifted writer and story teller.
I will never forget Into The Free; it is an exceptional book which I highly recommend.
In conclusion, I want to personally thank Karen Stoller from David C. Cook Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review.
It's always nice to discover a new author. I found out that Julie Cantrell has a nice and pleasant voice.
Millie grew up in a violent home. Her father abused her mother often. Millie was always happy when her father was gone with the rodeo and it was only mom and Millie then. Millie dreams of running away with the gypsies that come every spring to their town. After 6 years she makes contact with a handsome gyspy boy. They fall in love and Millie decides to run away with him and the other gypsies. But before she can actually do that something tragic happens and the gypsies travel on without Millie. She hopes to meet them next year for a new chance to go with them. All year she dreams of the gypsy boy. When things get really tough in her family situation she clings to the hope to see the gypsy boy again next spring.
Meanwhile Millie's life is turned upside down and new people enter her life, including a young cowboy that befriends her. Millie starts a job and finds out that she loves to do the very thing she thought she always hated.
This story handles some nasty things, but the author deals with the situations very well. I dare you to try this new author. I'm sure we will hear much more from Julie Cantrell in the future.
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Review 19 for Into the Free: A Novel - eBook
I was really upset reading this book.
Date:February 9, 2012
This book really disturbed me. The main character, Millie, constantly has a ghost following her around and helping her make decisions.
Into the Free: A Novel leaps into the life of Millicent Reynolds, a young Mississippi girl at the end of the Depression. Milli’s father, Jack, is a violent, alcoholic, rodeo man whose wife has turned to morphine to survive the abuse. Milli and her mother live in old slave quarters on a plantation, surviving on Jack’s winnings and the money they earn from doing laundry for the wealthy in town, Milli and her mother eek out an existence. Milli befriends a group of gypsies, intending to leave with them, but stops when her father almost beats her mother to death.
The perverse air of melancholia that permeates Milli’s life makes the this novel difficult to begin, but hooks the reader with Milli’s desire to pull herself out of the abusive circle. As Milli turns to people for help, Milli learns to see through facades to discover true meaning of Christianity and love, where money and appearance are not important. Intense book, not for the faint hearted, but a highly rewarding read.