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Into the Free (Into the Free #1)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  4,336 ratings  ·  536 reviews

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 w
Paperback, 329 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by David C. Cook (first published January 1st 2012)
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Into the Free was an intense story, but I loved it and was pulled into the story and 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 familie
L.N. Cronk
Julie Cantrell is a very gifted writer. I was very engaged in the storyline and felt connected to the main character until the very end of the story. As I was reading the majority of the novel, I anticipated that I would be giving the novel five stars - it was really, really good and the author has quite a way with words. The ending caused me to drop it down to four stars for two reasons. First of all, the author put a lot of "extra" material at the end of the book so I thought I had a lot left ...more
There was a lot I really liked about this book and a few things I didn't care for. I really really liked the author's writing style. Reading it was a joy simply because of how Cantrell puts her words together. I liked the portrayal of the family dynamics of this poor unfortunate family, and how Millie feels responsible for her mother's happiness or lack of it, and for her father's abusive behavior. The first half of the novel was the best-- believable, true, strong narrative power, well-develope ...more
Darren Hamilton
ugh, You can write a book about:

1. being a teenage girl;
2. losing your best friend;
3. having your father beat your mother;
4. having your father die;
5. having your mother die;
6. having a summer romance;
7. learning the sordid history of your family;
8. living in foster care;
9. being raped.

but you shouldn't write a book about all of them. Or if you do it should be a bit longer and a bit more flushed out.

It is well written but does too much and in the end does very little.
Joy Kieffer
Possibly one of the best books ever written. I found myself comparing this book to "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. This author, however, was able to deal with the grittiness of abuse and despair without slamming the reader with details so sordid that we feel the need to go wash our hands and minds afterwards.

The same hope is there, along with the lyrical quality of stringing words and phrases together that leave us yearning to become such writers ourselves.

All of the emotion
I really enjoyed this coming of age story. I had no idea until after I finished listening that it was classified as Christian lit. I'm glad I didn't know beforehand because I certainly wouldn't have chosen it if I did.

But I have to say the spiritual/religious aspect of the story seemed appropriate in the main character's quest to better understand herself. The story never came off as preachy. Yes, the bible, belief and god were mentioned but all in the context of the characters and their experie
Into The Free by Julie Cantrell is an amazing read—WOW! I loved this historical fiction book set in Mississippi about faith, gypsies, death, grief, domestic violence, rodeos and romance. It is told from Millie’s perspective, a little girl searching for her identity, freedom and faith. The variety of characters in this book seem real and some I loved, some I didn’t. My favorite characters were Millie, Sloth, Bump, Mr. Tucker and Mabel. My least favorite person was Millie’s grandfather with her fa ...more
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
A long black train scrapes across Mr. Sutton's fields. His horses don't bother lifting their heads. They aren't afraid of the metal wheels, the smoking engine. The trains come every day, in straight lines like the hems Mama stitches across rich people's pants. Ironing and sewing, washing and mending. That's what Mama does for cash. As for me, I sit in Mr. Sutton's trees, live in one of Mr. Sutton's cabins, sell Mr. Sutton's pecans, and dream about riding Mr. Sutton's horses, all in the shadow of ...more
Christie Hagerman
This is a book full of contrasts, of appearances that promise one thing but open up to reveal a totally different scene. Our heroine Millie's Mississippi in the 1930's and 40's is full of trees that sing, fascinating Gypsies, small farms, and enchanting forests. Look a bit further and you find drugs, gossip, abuse, and racism filling the beautiful land. Behind religious piety you find hypocrisy and self-righteousness. Within people on the fringe of accepted society you find honesty and compassio ...more
This was the worst book in the world. I hated it and I probably need therapy now. Oh, the book started off good. The middle was wearing me out, but I had hope. But then the author screwed up with the last 50 or so pages. This book makes me so mad. The main character did something so out of character and you really didn't get her reactions. I am scarred for life and will probably have to rewrite a better ending in my head. The reason the character turned to God was unbelievably unreal. It broke m ...more
I would actually rate Into the Free by Julie Cantrell 3.5 stars. It tells the story of a 16 year old girl, Millie, who has grown with a father who is abusive and a mother who has become addicted to morphine and uses that to cope with the harsh reality of her life. From the beginning of the novel when she has just turned 16 until the end of the novel when she is now 17, she goes through death of her father and her mother on the same day in totally different circumstances, falling from a tree and ...more
“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 Mil
Stephanie Wright
Since the beginning of creation, God has desired daily interaction with His children. At the same time, His children have desired to interact with the world that He created rather than Him. That has left each of us, at times, feeling a void and deep pain. God has also desired to teach us His ways instead of the world's and yet we are continually held captive by the world and its many snares, oases, and traps. In Into the Free by Julie Cantrell, we are introduced to a cast of characters, each wit ...more
Katie Ganshert
Exceptional prose. Exceptional story. Exceptional characters.

Julie Cantrell creates such vivid imagery and brings her characters so much to life in this debut that I was often left amazed.

This book is a perfect book club book. Because not only is it immensely enjoyable, there are some things that transpire toward the end that will stir up a lot of juicy, engaging conversation! For me, there was a couple things I didn't necessarily like or agree with, but I was dying to talk to others about them
Renea Winchester
From the first paragraph this author captured my attention. Lyrical, poetic, and well written. I can't wait to read Julie's next book. Excellent book.
Rambling Readers
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 ...more
D.M. Webb
The book started off amazing well written in the POV of a 9 year old.

After reading quite a few more pages, I grew weary of the prose. Do I really need to read about a stray eating her own pups? No. And in rural areas, strays hardly ever starved because of the abundant rabbits, squirrels, rats, and other rodents.

I understand that the girl lived a hard life, but I was hard pressed to believe her life as one as it was written. My grandmother and mother grew up poorer than dirt poor, so this book p
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 t ...more
C. Clark
I met Julie Cantrell at a writer's conference and bought her book because she was such a gentle, easy soul with a passion for writing. The book stunned me in its first few chapters, with its dark story line, but as the girl evolved, as the story took shape, I fell in love with the characters and setting. Well written and quite memorable. I'll never think of gypsies or rodeos the same again. The end was a bit predictable but I see this book as more of a character development, and I thoroughly bec ...more
Lucille Zimmerman
Nov 28, 2011 Lucille Zimmerman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Women
Recommended to Lucille by: Author
I received an advanced reader copy. I settled in to do what I and review. By the first few pages I completely forgot where I was. Each page had so much just pulled me forward. Rarely do I even finish most fiction books, much less roar through them.

I cannot believe this is Julie's first novel. She writes likes a seasoned pro. I am sure this will be the first of many more books by Julie. Her name is sure to become popular on reader's tongues.

Nora St Laurent
I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that introduced me to a talented new author. Into the Fire is a haunting and gripping story told through Millie Reynolds innocent eyes. She's growing up during the depression – Era in Mississippi.

Young Millie tries to make sense of relationships and life. Miss Harper says to Millie. After closing the book Grapes of Wrath, “when the right person’s on your side, you've got a good chance of beating the odds!"

Millie is honest with a friend named River and s
Beckie Burnham
Julie Cantrell won 2 Christy Awards for her debut novel, Into The Free. It is easy to see why. Her novel is a moving study of a young girl with so many obstacles to overcome, so many people set against her, yet somehow she manages to hold on to the elusive hope that she can escape and somehow make it into freedom. Not a particularly easy read considering the abuse some of the characters undergo, it is nevertheless a book I would highly recommend to anyone.

Spanning the years of 1936-1943, Into Th
Jordyn Redwood
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A Nelson
[May contain spoiler]

I received a copy of this book from a friend who works at the publisher. After finishing the book I didn't know quite what to think of it. Did I like it or not? I have recently been reading a lot of classic children's literature and Into the Free was quite a contrast to those somewhat benign, pollyanna stories. This book has a reality and messiness that reminds me of the book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. The Rivers book was quite a contrast to other Christian fiction I
Apr 07, 2012 Pilar rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Pilar by: Karen Stoller
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 coul
I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. I snagged it when it was free for Kindle and it sat untouched for a few weeks before I started it on a whim. Julie Cantrell has a beautiful writing style that kept me turning pages for hours at a time. I grew up 20 miles from the city of Meridian, MS which is what Ita Taloa in the book is based on, so it was very interesting to read about a place I am so familiar with through the eyes of a character during the depression. I've heard stories of the Gyps ...more
After taking a couple of days to sort through my feelings about this book, I was still conflicted. I’m not sure how clear this review is going to be because I’m still not sure of some of my feelings toward the book. This was a beautiful, heart-breaking, raw story. From the opening scene, this story packs an emotional punch, wrapping around your heart throughout the entire story.

The easy part first: Cantrell’s writing is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I inhaled her words and didn’t want to come
The story of Millie and her family set in the 30's and 40's is tragic indeed. Living in a shack with her mother who is addicted to morphine and a father who abuses Millie's mother and who is gone and not much of a father because of his rodeo job. As you read this story, you uncover secrets of that past and what made these characters to who they are. The story is told by Millie who witnesses evil and wants to be loved and accepted. Something we all can relate too. Millie's mother Marie is a survi ...more
Millie's story got under my skin. I grieved for her small, desperate world, and loved (most of) the characters in it. Told through the eyes of a young girl, Into the Free takes you on a journey of discovery. I yearned for peace and purpose for dear little Millie. Through it all, there was an underlying glimmer of hope that this girl would eventually find her way out of her life and into the free. Ms. Cantrell's prose was lovely and heartbreaking at the same time. She spun scenes with a delicate ...more
This is a lot like Water For Elephants. With a little of The Help thrown in at the end.
It started out so well! But Millie became less likeable as the book went on. I never quite figured out the symbolism of the mother dog eating her pups.
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Julie Cantrell is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her debut novel, Into the Free, won two 2013 Christy Awards and the 2013 Fiction Award by the Mississippi Library Association. The sequel, When Mountains Move, won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, will hit shelves November 2015 (Harper Collins).
More about Julie Cantrell...

Other Books in the Series

Into the Free (2 books)
  • When Mountains Move (Into the Free #2)
When Mountains Move (Into the Free #2) God Is with Me Through the Day God Is with Me Through the Night Into the Free Extended Preview: First 13 Chapters Free! When Mountains Move Extended Preview: First 12 Chapters Free!

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“Maybe God doesn't care if we get all dressed up and sit in the pew every Sunday, as Diana believes. Instead, maybe God comes to us through men like Sloth, watching over us as we make our own decisions. Maybe God has always been with me. Opening doors, leading me to opportunities, letting me choose my own path, and loving me even when I chose the wrong one. Never giving up on me. Knowing all along that I am on a journey. That I must find my own way to Him. Maybe River was rights. Maybe God does still believe in me.” 10 likes
“I do two things," she told me. "I remind myself that it's not all about me. And I focus on the good. There's always a way to find some good.” 9 likes
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