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, meting out only a few chapters a night. 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. Cantrell'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. With Into the Free, I could instead take a front row seat in Julie's classroom, witnessing firsthand, transfixed, the personification of everything I've ever learned from my clients about their experience. One of my favorite professors described empathy as walking with our clients, trying to understand their experience. With the characters in this book, I was able to walk a mile in their shoes- wanting desperately to flee from the text, but unable to abandon the young protagonist when she was so desperately alone.
I am considering making this book required reading for a class that I teach at a local university. There is no better way to experience the journey of so many of the people we work with. For those blessed to never live in Millie's circumstance, it offers insight into the human condition. For those who have or still do, it may offer some roadmap to healing their own invisible wounds.
This is an outstanding read, its characters complex and evolving. It is easy to love young Millie Reynolds, to be afraid for her, to cheer for her, to want to hold her tightly until the storms in her life pass. The reader is treated to an age-accurate view of the world that matures as Millie does- from a dichotomous perspective that categorizes people as good or bad, to one more accurately reflecting the people that we all are- significantly more than can be described with a few adjectives.
Buy this book- the publisher guarantees to credit your purchase price if you don't believe it worth the time most will certainly invest into it. My warning: don't buy it if you are afraid to connect with the protagonist at a visceral level. I don't suspect many will read the book without going through a spectrum of emotions.
Load a shotgun with prayer and aim at a story. Pull the trigger and pepper the pages with prayer. That's the only way Into the Free can be categorized as Christian. I absolutely hated that I bought this book and wasted my money on something that rates up there with the NYT's bestsellers that contain erotica and language. Did this have bad language, no. Erotica? Borderline. At the end, the description of the rape scene was borderline graphic! Appalling that any Christian book seller would pass this off as a wonderfully written Christian book! I don't need to know that he opened her dress, or that his weight was upon her, or that he called out her mother's name three times. I didn't need to know that he stood and fastened his pants! Hint at the scene, show the shame or the denial afterwards. DON'T give me details because I do not want that image stuck in my mind, but thank you, Ms. Cantrell. When I see your title, my mind replays the rape scene vividly, no matter how hard I try to push it from my memory.
I will not recommend your book to anyone, nor read another. You used eloquent words and you have a gift, but you marred it by compromising to the world's ways.
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 could not help but sympathize with her. At such a young age, she was faced many unfortunate circumstances and decisions. One wrong decision or turn could ultimately effect the rest of her life.
Julie Cantrell's writing style is one that flows. Like a waltz, one sentence, paragraph and chapter dancing into the next; smoothly and without interruption. I was able to visualize every nuance, facial expression, mood and unspoken word. The story is poignant and moved me to tears.
Julie Cantrell is a virtuoso who orchestrated a literary masterpiece. She uses words on paper much like an artist strokes a canvas or a musician plucks the strings of a human heart.
I commend Julie Cantrell for an absolutely beautiful debut. She is a gifted writer and story teller.
I will never forget Into The Free; it is an exceptional book which I highly recommend.
In conclusion, I want to personally thank Karen Stoller from David C. Cook Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review.
It's always nice to discover a new author. I found out that Julie Cantrell has a nice and pleasant voice.
Millie grew up in a violent home. Her father abused her mother often. Millie was always happy when her father was gone with the rodeo and it was only mom and Millie then.
Millie dreams of running away with the gypsies that come every spring to their town. After 6 years she makes contact with a handsome gyspy boy. They fall in love and Millie decides to run away with him and the other gypsies. But before she can actually do that something tragic happens and the gypsies travel on without Millie. She hopes to meet them next year for a new chance to go with them. All year she dreams of the gypsy boy. When things get really tough in her family situation she clings to the hope to see the gypsy boy again next spring.
Meanwhile Millie's life is turned upside down and new people enter her life, including a young cowboy that befriends her. Millie starts a job and finds out that she loves to do the very thing she thought she always hated.
This story handles some nasty things, but the author deals with the situations very well. I dare you to try this new author. I'm sure we will hear much more from Julie Cantrell in the future.
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 them, but stops when her father almost beats her mother to death.
The perverse air of melancholia that permeates Milli's life makes the this novel difficult to begin, but hooks the reader with Milli's desire to pull herself out of the abusive circle. As Milli turns to people for help, Milli learns to see through facades to discover true meaning of Christianity and love, where money and appearance are not important. Intense book, not for the faint hearted, but a highly rewarding read.