Into the Free
By Julie Cantell
Published by: David C Cook
370 Pages

Back Cover: 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 and written in the vein of other Southern literary bestsellers like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, Julie Cantrell has created in Into the Free—now a New York Times Best Seller—a story that will sweep you away long after the novel ends.

REVIEW: 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 says, “I don’t even know if I believe in God anymore.”

“River thinks before answering. I like that about him. “Well, I’m sure God still believes in you.”

I've heard this phrase before from Mama. I’m not falling for it." I thought he’d be different. But he’s just like every other boy I know. He’ll say anything to fool the girl.”

“Each day, I scramble through old - growth hardwoods fertile fields, pretending I am scouting for a lost tribe or exploring ancient ruins, other kids in town play with dolls and practice piano. I don’t care much for that. My friends are the trees, and my favorite is this sweet gum. Mostly because she’s planted right in front of our porch, so close I can see Mama’s wedding ring slip loose around her bony finger while she drops carrots into a black iron pot. I named my tree sweetie. Every day, I climb sweetie’s limbs and listen for her songs.”

I really liked Millie. She’s gut wrenchingly honest, and had a different way of looking at things. My heart went out to her when she found herself in a horrific situation – thru no fault of her own. She’s a thinker, she’s brave and feels alone. She ponders, “If God really loved her, how could she be alone."

Then she visits the Anderson family and thinks, “As the day goes on, I can taste the existence of God in every bite of food, smell Him in every waft of Delta air…For years, I have searched for this God. This feeling of complete love and acceptance. He was always out of reach. But here food is scarce, money is tight, heart is heavy and tensions should run high. God is everywhere.”

couldn't put this book down. I was captivated by Millie her strength, courage, and imagination. My heart ached for this young one. I liked how this author dealt with some pretty tough and sensitive topics. She handled them with grace, compassion, and respect minus vivid details. For that I’m grateful. This is not a read for the faint of heart. The issues raised in this book are spousal abuse, mental illness, depression and rape!

Millie discovers who she is and what she’s worth in spite of her circumstances. Not many people want to face tragedy head on either did young soul. Millies' story is continued in the sequel named When Mountains Move. This an outstanding compelling read you won't want to miss.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
Book Fun Magazine  
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