Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Into the Free (Into the Free #1)” as Want to Read:
Into the Free (Into the Free #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Into the Free (Into the Free #1)

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,842 Ratings  ·  567 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 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Into the Free, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Into the Free

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Mar 22, 2012 L.N. Cronk rated it really liked it
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
Mar 04, 2012 Karen rated it liked it
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
Sep 30, 2013 Darren Hamilton rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 27, 2014 Barb rated it really liked it
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
Joy Kieffer
Mar 19, 2013 Joy Kieffer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
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
Karen & Gerard
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
Dec 20, 2011 Christie Hagerman rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 26, 2013 Cookielover rated it did not like it
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
Feb 15, 2012 Casey rated it really liked it
“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
May 21, 2012 Stephanie Wright rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 11, 2012 Katie Ganshert rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 17, 2013 Renea Winchester rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2012 Rambling Readers rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 25, 2012 Glenajo rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 09, 2012 C. Clark rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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
Jul 08, 2015 Nora St Laurent rated it really liked it
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
May 22, 2014 Beckie Burnham rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 21, 2014 Jordyn Redwood rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A Nelson
Apr 03, 2012 A Nelson rated it really liked it
[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 it was amazing
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
Mar 28, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 13, 2012 Jeanie rated it liked it
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
Jan 24, 2016 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a review of the audio edition. I Loved It!!! An amazing coming of age tale of a young girl who goes through more sorrowful events than most. Yet, this author made me feel safe and led me far from despair for this young girl. I felt like I was examining life and everything in it from fresh, new eyes. It was delightful how she told this story. A wonderful voice and I don't just mean the narrator who was wonderful too - a perfect match, in my humble opinion! So refreshing ... I don't get to ...more
Jul 15, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, netgalley
I really enjoyed this book. Millie comes from a hard life. Her Dad is a rodeo star who beats her mom and is never around. Her Mom, most of the time, is not there for her when she needs her most. Millie spends most of her time up a tree she calls Sweetie. She learns alot of tough lessons in her life. She also learns that it is up to her to get 'to the free". She meets a boy at the rodeo where her Dad works called Bump. He is very sweet and helps her out alot. She also meets a gypsy boy named Rive ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Blue Hole Back Home
  • Reclaiming Lily
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon
  • The Outcast: a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter
  • The Reluctant Prophet (The Reluctant Prophet, #1)
  • Promise Me This
  • The Wings of Morning (Snapshots in History, #1)
  • The Messenger
  • Rebellious Heart
  • Bring on the Blessings
  • Angel Sister (Rosey Corner, #1)
  • Double Blind
  • Before the Scarlet Dawn (Daughters of the Potomac, #1)
  • Walking on Broken Glass
  • Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise (Bright's Pond #2)
  • O Little Town
  • Composing Amelia
  • The Loom
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 January 2016 (Harper Collins).
More about Julie Cantrell...

Other Books in the Series

Into the Free (2 books)
  • When Mountains Move (Into the Free #2)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“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
More quotes…