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?
Average Customer Rating:
(15 Reviews) 15
Rating Snapshot(15 reviews)
13 out of 1587%customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for Into the Free
Review 1 for Into the Free
Date:May 1, 2013
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.
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Review 2 for Into the Free
Not a Christian book
Date:May 27, 2012
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.
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.
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.
Into the Free is written by Julie Cantrell and published by David C. Cook.
As you read this book you can’t help but love Millie Reynolds. Her character is what made this book a joy to read. The story follows Millie as she learns who she really is and what she wants her future to be. You watch her character grow as you follow her through the tragedy and laughter that is her story.
It is a well written book and you can’t wait to turn the page to see where the story takes you next. The scenery is well described and the plot is well developed. Overall it was a good book and I really enjoyed reading it.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
I loved this coming-of-age story! The writing is lyrical. It's the first from Julie Cantrell; I'm certain we'll hear more from her.
Written in the first-person point of view of Millie, a nine-year-old Mississippi girl who experiences the underbelly of life, and therefore becomes an "old soul" as described by her mother. The reader peeks into Millie's frustrating life with an abusive father and a "nothing mama." Family secrets offers some comfort along with more pain as they are revealed. Millie grows into a young lady of seventeen, relying on comfort from a sweet gum tree she names "Sweetie." From her perch in the upper branches, she hides and observes. She believes that she is alone in a Godless world.
Note: Reader's Guide included, along with an interview with the author.
Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and David C. Cook for my copy.
Into the Free was an intense story, but I loved it and was pulled into the story and into the characters' lives. The portrayal of their hardship was very realistic in that many abused children feel exactly the same way that Millie did. I appreciated that because so often people don't understand that abused children get a bit freaked out by loving families.
Having worked with foster children for almost two decades, I saw this scenario often. Those same children are also very loyal to their own families, twisted as they might be. They are always waiting for the other ball to drop and to be hurt again. Too often that is exactly what happens. And they are drawn to the dark, dangerous types of boys. Many of those men start out amazing but once a girl is in a relationship with them, they are trapped. I felt really bad for the gypsy boy, River, because I do believe he sincerely loved Millie, but one never knows where that intense emotional stuff will lead, good or bad. In fact, her life often reflected the savagery of the dog that ate her own pups. I loved that metaphor and many of the other metaphors used in the story.
At any rate, I adored this author's voice, and the way she wasn't afraid to show the ugliness of life in all of it's authenticity, including how people perceive things who have been wounded. Faith isn't about dressing up on Sunday and sitting nicely in a pew. Not all Christians are white, though southern preachers in those days very well may have tried to present it that way. I agreed with Millie when it came to the hypocrisy she saw. I don't think God cares about that. What He wants is our hearts and He will use everything and anything to bring us to Him. This story showed that well.
Into the Free also showed strength and determination from a girl only used to seeing passivity, weakness, and neglect. Unfortunately, many women think they must stay and bear the brunt of the man's abuse. The strongest thing Millie's mom ever did was not to take him back after that last time where he nearly killed her. I understood the rage Millie felt toward her mom's depression. So well done!
The Sloth character was great, but I also found it a bit disconcerting how she "saw" him even after she died. Then again, I can see a wounded child like Millie looking for comfort and security anywhere, even if she imagines it and believes it is real. When Sloth passed, she lost her best friend and the one person who seemed to care about her. The story was sad, but empowering at the same time. I like deep reads like this because they make me think about life, faith, and real love.
I find survivor stories empowering. I didn't feel like anything was over-the-top. In real life, God doesn't always intervene. Most of the time, He doesn't. But He holds us when we hurt and carries us through. This story shows how anyone can survive and change the direction of their life. Even the most wounded people can still find God. There were many nuggets of truth in this novel that were an integral part of Millie's coming of age and her faith journey. I can see this book as a classic and I think it would make a great movie! Anyway, it's making my favorites list. It's fantastic!
“Into the Free” had a very visceral pull on me as a reader. I was reeled into this story of a girl growing into a woman, a girl living in conditions I couldn’t imagine withstanding, and yet she gave me a dose of courage and beauty I didn’t realize I needed.
It takes amazing talent to tell a story with strife and a desperate search for wholeness, in a way that doesn’t make it seem as though the book has no plot or direction. The writing voice yanked me into the pages of the story and watching Millie make her choices gripped my heart.
There is such beauty in this book. Obviously the story won’t be for everyone, but it really encompasses so much of what I look for in the novels I love. A desperate yearning, a tension filled search for her right place, a longing from the hand of God to touch her.
I loved the faith message so much in this novel. It’s not overt, not even something you would necessarily pick up, because it’s lived. It fills the pages and encompasses the end…I absolutely loved how the book ended.
A literary novel, but it’s not written in a stuck-up or stodgy manner- it’s a novel that wrapped around my heart and left me just the right amount of changed.
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers through CFBA for my copy to review.
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.
"Into the Free" is a southern coming-of-age tale of pain and freedom. Julie Cantrell drew me into Millie Reynold's story from the very first page. The depth and symbolism woven into the pages give "Into the Free" a literary quality unmatched by more lighthearted books. Cantrell tackles many heavy subjects in her latest novel, including death, physical and emotional abuse, and addiction. Reading each event from Millie's perspective, makes her pain more tangible. I truly doubt that any reader will not be impacted by the obstacles that Millie faces in her quest for freedom.
The story begins in 1936 when Millie is just 10 years old, but shouldering the burdens of an adult. Seven chapters later, it is 1942, and Millie is a teenager still battling the same scars of a turbulent childhood and facing new struggles, but also the dawn of new dreams. Cantrell creates a unique cast of gypsies, cowboys, poor farmers, and proper southern families, that all merge to create a cohesive and powerful plot. Each group offers new experiences and insights into life, making the plot more intriguing and unpredictable. The migrating gypsies with their magnetic charm and colorful scarves add whimsy and romance. Meanwhile, Millie finds unexpected comfort and acceptance in the rodeo, but where does she truly belong? That question kept me turning the pages. Millie's story is a narrative of harsh realities, but ultimate freedom and hope. I cannot wait to read Julie Cantrell's sequel and see where Millie's journey leads.
I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley, courtesy of David C. Cook. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The Reynolds, a family broken, struggling and alone, grasping for air and hoping for dreams.
Jack bullrider, dangerously controlling
Marie depressive, and very much a victim of circumstances
Daughter Millie young, searching for God and answers in the home and situations that she is a part of. Usually found nestled safely among the branches of her magnificient sweet gum tree, Sweetie, she escapes into her backyard watching from above the world that lies beneath.
Sloth best friend of Millie, each helping the other through the storms of life.
Every year the traveling gypsys arrive in town bringing with them fascination, curiousity, a little music and magic to captivate the residents of Iti Taloa, Mississippi. When Millie now 16, meets one of them he entrances her and for awhile she steps out of her present life and sees the world through his eyes. Promises are made and secrets are shared. When tragedy descends upon Millie the choices she has are now limited, her past lying in front of her eyes she must make a decision about her future. But when a new opportunity arrises she leaps forward. Can this be where she has belonged all along, after all, where she can be free?
This very well written novel is by far the best coming of age story I have read. The author tackles sensitive issues with grace and compassion and gives the characters a strong voice. I quickly became "attached" to Millie. A story guaranteed to capture your heart, stir your emotions and keep you reading until finished. I will definately be reading more from this author in the future and look forward to hopefully a sequel. Dialogue, description and scene mesh together perfectly creating an unforgetable and hard to put down book! I was entertained, challenged in my faith and I highly recommend this book to others. Thank you to David C Cook Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC copy for my review.
This book really disturbed me. The main character, Millie, constantly has a ghost following her around and helping her make decisions.
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Review 15 for Into the Free
A Touching Story
Date:December 22, 2011
Into the Free by Julie Cantrell
The first chapter of Into the Free delighted me with its descriptive southern prose but then crashed into my heart in such an unexpected way that left me gasping and wondering if I could make it through the book. But it was so well written, that I kept turning the pages as my heart cheered for young Millie to survive her abusive and underprivileged Mississippi family. Millie didn’t disappoint me. The young girl was a wonderful combination of child and grit. Her story touched my spirit.
From the start, Millie’s mother is already broken to the point that she has nothing left to give Millie. But God wraps his arms around the child through the comfort of nature—she finds solace in a huge gum tree that she calls her sweetie. He sends people like Sloth and Martha into her life at critical points to meet her needs, while all around her, adults continue to make poor choices and evil abounds. Cantrell gives us the good and the bad that have formed each character. For instance, while we experience the abusive side of Jack through Millie’s eyes, we also watch how her father’s rodeo peers esteem him.
Julie Cantrell is an author who isn’t afraid to use haunting imagery that opens eyes to reality. A blow is described as The sound of a cool watermelon being busted open in the heat of summer, a thick and empty jolt that drains all the sweetness out...
Into the Free is so saturated with symbolism that I will want to read it through a second time, if I dare, to catch it all and let it sink into my soul. The minor characters are colorful and all work together to shape Millie’s life in this coming of age novel. The plot is unpredictable, with many surprises and a cast of cowboys, ghosts, and gypsies. And yet it also comes full circle many times over. If you like Dramas or Edgy Inspirationals, you must read this novel.
I dog-eared the corner of a page with my favorite lines: 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....