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Into the Free: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Julie Cantrell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (644 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


“A young girl growing into adolescence confronts family abuse and a dark past in this lyrical debut novel. Millie Reynolds and her mother live in a ramshackle cabin in Depression-era Mississippi, occasionally receiving unwelcome visits from the violent family patriarch, Jack. With her only friend, Sloth, dead and gone, Millie struggles to find any happiness with a “nothing mama” and a ruthless father. Only the passing caravans of gypsies offer her any semblance of belonging. But when unlucky events engulf her, she discovers some surprising secrets that eventually help her hope in God’s love. Cantrell’s exquisitely written story immerses readers in a world that is as cruel as it is beautiful. From the opening lines to the very last sentence, the book’s magnetic prose bewitches and enthralls on every page. A visceral and gripping journey of a young woman’s revelations about God and self, this novel will surely excite any reader who appreciates a compelling story about personal struggle and spiritual resilience.”
 - Publisher’s Weekly
“Cantrell’s words paint vivid pictures that bring Millie’s harrowing story to life. Riveting you to your chair, this story is a reminder that sometimes faith — real faith– is slowly built during the darkest moments of your life.”
- RT Reviews
“Julie Cantrell beautifully renders a vivid past, but her subjects are immediate and eternal—family secrets, love’s many losses, revenge and revelation, and finally redemption. Her characters may buck and brawl and bray against the notion of God in their lives, but there’s no denying He continues to send them into each other’s path, and Cantrell masterfully introduces them to one another in her wonderfully woven narrative. This book is full of insightful detail and wondrous turns, with an ending that moves in all directions through time like God’s grace.”
- Mark Richard, author of House of Prayer No. 2

"A beautiful and literary coming-of-age romance that is as close to perfect as I've seen in quite some time."
Serena Chase, USA TODAY

About the Author

New York Times Best-selling author Julie Cantrell was the editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review. She has been a freelance writer for ten years and has published two children’s books. She has contributed to more than a dozen books, and her first novel, Into the Free, hit shelves February 1, 2012 (David C Cook). In addition to writing the sequel to that novel, Julie was honored to receive the 2011 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Artist Fellowship and is currently working on a creative nonfiction book about her family’s adventures as first-generation farmers. Julie and her family live in Oxford, Mississippi where they operate Valley House Farm. She is also a certified speech-language pathologist and currently teaches English as a second language to elementary students.


Product Details

  • File Size: 2186 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006YS5V2O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,111 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
174 of 189 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading January 29, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My disclaimer regarding bias: I grew up with the author, and thought the world of her long before she published anything. Now, I am simply in awe of her. Most reviews I've written have been solicited by authors known to me personally. This review is unsolicited. I hope that my inadequate typed words are able to convey the depth of passion I have for this book.

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, meteing out only a few chapters a night. Today, 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. Perkin'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.
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63 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great. Only great. January 30, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Julie Cantrell has written a great novel. It is a story of grief, love, conflict, and forgiveness. And as it is Southern, it is especially a story of faith. It is difficult to write a review of such a story, as the risk of leaving out critical concepts is greater with the myriad of them Julie has woven so well into this tale; so brevity herein. Her characters are masterful: from her father (whom she calls by his given name, Jack)and mother to her almost-mystical, Sloth, to a knight (my appellation) named Bump the reader will attach himself to them as well as others. I don't know where Julie came up with the idea to write INTO THE FREE, but God gave her the talent to write it.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully-- Almost Poetically--Written Story February 4, 2012
I loved this book. The story was captivating and powerful, but even more than that, Julie Cantrell's nearly poetic prose painted a picture that engaged all of my senses and emotions and drew me in from the first pages. I highly recommend this powerful, captivating and beautifully written book.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read! February 15, 2012
By Cassie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am going to start off with this - I am an avid reader and have never, not once, written a review. I felt I had to for this book. It was absolutely amazing. Heart-wrenching, uplifting and full of love, loss and forgiveness. It was wonderfully written. When I finally finished, I noticed that this is an amateur author who has never written a book before! And she did a wonderful job of creating the characters and the story. I absolutely loved this book, and am sad to have to start a new one, knowing it can't possibly top this one. It is definitely worth a read! I cried, laughed and was frightened right along with the main character, Millie. Great job, Julie!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Book Clubs! February 5, 2012
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 agree with, but I was dying to talk to others about them to hear their thoughts/reflections. I know I'll be pitching it to my book club friends in February!

I can't wait for more from this very talented author.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Coming of Age Story That I Have Read!! January 22, 2012
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Lovely book. Very well developed characters.
Published 2 days ago by Mawine
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! It's a quick read
Excellent book! It's a quick read, but the story moves seamlessly and has a wonderful ending. I really enjoyed it.
Published 6 days ago by savcat
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Be sure to read the sequel to this one....When Mountains Move.
Published 12 days ago by judib51
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
I love your book it is the best book I have ever read but will there be a second book?
Published 14 days ago by Kathy
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Fell in love with Millie, her innocence, strength and vulnerability. Kept me turning the pages anticipating what would happen to her next.
Published 14 days ago by Tonks
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the sequel.
This is the first time I've ever rated a book, but I really liked this story. Just as someone else said, I found it to be heart wrenching and heart warming. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I loved this book, many twists and turns.
Published 17 days ago by Bonnie Chaffin
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read.
This is a wonderful read! Full of honest reality, feelings and truth. Captivating me so I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Plain
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story of perseverence
Heart warming and heart wrenching all at the same time. Wonderful story of perseverence.
Published 24 days ago by Linda Belcourt
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderfully written.
Published 24 days ago by Karen Tonning
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More About the Author

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell was the editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review. She has been a freelance writer for a decade and has contributed to more than a dozen books.

Julie's debut novel, Into the Free (David C Cook), earned a rare starred review by Publishers Weekly, became an international bestseller, and received two Christy Awards and the Mississippi Library Association Fiction Award. It spent three weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, made the USA TODAY Top 150, and was listed as a top read of the year by USA TODAY and LifeWay Christian Stores.

The sequel, When Mountains Move, received the ACFW Carol Award for Historical Fiction and was again named a top read of the year by both USA TODAY and LifeWay Christian Stores.

A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie was honored to receive the 2012 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, will release November 2015 (Harper Collins Christian). It is set in Louisiana where Julie spent her childhood.

Julie and her family now live in Oxford, Mississippi where they operate Valley House Farm.

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