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)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  6,330 ratings  ·  718 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
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.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,330 ratings  ·  718 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Into the Free (Into the Free #1)
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
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A dramatically entertaining and hopeful story of a young girl who must grow up way to fast.

Millie Reynold’s longs to escape the madness that incorporates her world. Her father is abusive, and her “nothing” mother just struggles to survive. When a caravan of gypsies dance through town, Millie 16, would love nothing more than to run away with them. Millie knows she cannot abandon her mama. Instead the gypsies leave Millie with a key which unlocks generations of family secrets. When tragedy
L.N. Cronk
Feb 21, 2012 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 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
Mar 25, 2013 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
Darren Hamilton
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joy D
Historical fiction and coming of age story about Millie, a poor girl living in Mississippi in the 1930’s-1940’s with her abusive alcoholic father and depressed drug-addicted mother. She interacts with the Romany travelers that arrive each spring and longs to follow them out of town, but the responsibilities and love she feels toward her mother make it difficult to leave. Her life is further burdened by a series of tragedies.

This book is about decisions we make in life and the ramifications of t
Joy Kieffer
Mar 19, 2013 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
Oct 24, 2014 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
Christie Hagerman
Dec 20, 2011 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
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
Set in Mississippi during the Depression Era, Millie lives in a rundown shack with a mother whose broken and an abusive father. She views the world from the branches of the sweet gum tree near her home. Soothed by her neighbor Sloth, Millie knows love. Even after the death of Sloth, Millie experiences Sloth's presence. Every spring the Gypsies come through town. They embrace Millie and Millie dreams of traveling with them "into the free". They help Millie to unearth the secrets of the past that ...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
Stephanie Wright
May 21, 2012 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
Jan 10, 2012 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
Into the Free by Julie Cantrell is a riveting novel about love, loss, hope and faith. Millie Reynolds, the main protagonist, has gone through a lot of hardships throughout her life. She always grew up looking at the riches and glory of Mr. Sutton's household compared to her more average life in a small cabin on his plantation. As Millie grows and has more experience she grows in her character through the thoughts of her family, her faith and her view on life.

Overall, I would give this book five
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A kindle freebie that I read in 2 days. I found the story to be powerful and captivating. Set in a small town in MS we get to follow young Millie Reynolds life until she becomes a young woman of 18. The story is beautifully written and the characters are engaging and believable. Loved reading about when the gypsies came to town every spring.
Renea Winchester
Jan 21, 2013 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.
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
Daphne Self
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
Rambling Readers
May 13, 2012 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
Mar 25, 2012 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
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-re-read
This turned into one of those bedtime reads that was a mistake to start at bedtime :) Fortunately I was able to sleep in this morning. It was obviously engaging, even enlightening; but not "fun" as in entertaining. The story is set in a period and place that felt kindred to me: my forebears had a few generations in Oklahoma, then western Arkansas for a few more.

Millie's experiences encompass many aspects of a prior generation, from landed gentry to the travelers, from cowboys and field hands to
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This gets 5 stars just because of the visceral reaction I had to this. This book made me still and quiet and had such an effect on me. I doubt I will forget this girl's plight. I loved the writing style of this author, especially the descriptive strokes. It was rich and vivid and enthralling. The MC's POV seemed very grown up for a 10 year old, but it came off as very believable and very heart breaking. I also loved the character development for most of the main characters. They were well drawn ...more
C. Clark
Sep 09, 2012 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 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.

Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Julie Cantrell had me with the title. Into the Free. Then she began telling the story through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl in Depression-era Mississippi. Millie has a best friend in an elderly man she calls Sloth and they fish and they gather eggs and he tells her stories. She climbs trees, hides under the porch, and sells pecans--anything to stay away from a cabin full of anger, fear, and undiluted melancholy. Into the Free isn't an easy story to read, but Cantrell tells it with such lyrica ...more
Robin W. Pearson
Cantrell wields her words; she doesn’t just “write.” She makes you want—no, need—to know more of Millie’s story!
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Intense, coming of age story. an engaging story line. I love the religious aspect put into all the chapters. Redemption. Hope. I understand there is a sequel to this book. Would love to read it too if I could find it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Tall Poppies
  • Crescendo: The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town
  • Where Hope Begins
  • Freedom in the Mountain Wind (Call of the Rockies, #1)
  • Barefoot Summer (Chapel Ridge #1)
  • Though Waters Roar
  • Belonging (Where the Heart Lives, #1)
  • Bluebonnet Bride (Love Across the Sea #1.5)
  • Lulu's Cafe
  • An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County
  • Barefoot: A Story of Surrendering to God (Sensible Shoes #3)
  • If I Were You
  • Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister #1)
  • Jessie (Big Sky Dreams, #3)
  • Friends--And Then Some
  • Under the Scotch Broom
  • The Complete Instant Pot For Two Cookbook: 550 Healthy Pressure Cooker Recipes (Instant Pot Duo Cookbook For Two)
  • Butterfly Palace (Love Across the Sea #1)
See similar books…
Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, teacher, and TEDx speaker. She has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and has earned starred reviews by both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. Cantrell is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship and was named a finalist for the 2017 Mississippi Institute of Art ...more

Other books in the series

Into the Free (2 books)
  • When Mountains Move

Related Articles

Philippa Gregory is best known for reimagining the lives of famous royal women in bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn...
69 likes · 32 comments
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.” 17 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.” 15 likes
More quotes…