This book affected me so deeply, it is hard to put into words. Millie is a young girl that, at first glance, would be easy to forget. She lives in poverty, her father is never around, her mother is abused and doesn't take care of her. But Millie is strong. She gets good grades in school and makes positive relationships with her teachers and the librarian. And that strength is what makes Millie unforgettable.
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, Julie Cantrell has created Into the Freeâ€”now a New York Times Best Sellerâ€”a story that will sweep you away long after the novel ends.
This novel is absolutely amazing. It took my breath away to think that one person could handle this much abuse and survive. The secrets she hides because she is ashamed of her past is just so sad and just broke my heart to read about. When she experiences her first love I couldn't help but cheer for her and want the best for her. And when she discovers why her life is the way it is, she desperately needs God on her side to help her break the cycle of abuse and sin in her family.
Cantrell wrote a novel that will shed light into the human condition, and if you've even walked a mile in Millie's shoes, I recommend this book as a work that will greatly encourage the healing process. Quite surprisingly, I understood Millie's point of view more than I ever thought possible. I wanted to reach out to her somehow and tell her that with God's love everything that ever went wrong in her life could be salvaged and she could be free form her past forever. A wonderful story of the power of forgiveness, and what it means to come out of the other side.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from www.bookfun.org
As I was reading page after page, I kept ruminating about what the author was trying to convey in the tale. When I came to the end, all the pieces fell into place for me, and I realized the message was veiled on purpose. Sometimes when the end comes and the theme or message is unveiled that is also when the joy of having read the book can be realized. Perhaps other readers catch on quicker to what the message was, but it took me till the end and I was astounded.
The story is told from the point of view of a young girl growing up in a less than idealistic home life. Instead of being cared for, she ends up being the caretaker of her mother for most of her early years. Inside her heart she is searching, but for what or whom Millie is not quite able to put her finger on it. Through other background characters and life experiences she sees life as trying to make sense of what is seen from afar.
Years later in a year that totally changes her life, she dares to hope and dream of finding her deepest heart's desire fulfilled. The people she tries to trust and let them know her aren't able to get any closer than what Millie determines is safest. When Millie's world is again rocked by an event that will forever be a part of her memories, she wonders if the future will be a mirror of either of her parents.
I don't want to take away the joy of the journey in discovering the meaning or theme, so I'll not write any more about the plot. As you read, what speaks to you may not be what spoke to my heart and that is another reason for not revealing some other pieces of the book or characters. What I can say is that it truly reflects one message we all need be reminded of_that no matter what happens to us this side of heaven we have choices. We may not always know why we have had a particular tragedy or surprise come along, but really that isn't where our eyes should stay fixed. There is more going on around us that is unseen than seen.
When Mountains Move is the sequel to Into the Free, and I will review that novel soon too. I can't wait to see what continues to happen with Millie's saga. Into the Free is a special novel for me as it speaks to my heart about the path we are on this side of heaven, as well as the need for leaving behind us words that others can read that might just lead them to God.
I really wanted to read this book... and I'll admit that part of it was the cover.
There's something lonely and soul-stirring about it. The cover of Into the Free features a single figure walking along a dirt road with fields on the side. It is a Southern environment, with flower blossoms around the edges. She is setting off into the unknown, shoulders squared, and she is carrying a heavy bag that weighs her down.
The other reason I knew I had to read this book was the reviews: I had heard that this book dealt with powerful themes. That Into The Free is the kind of book that helps you grow though the reading of it, that in this story you to meet people that never leave your memory, and that you will want to know both God and your fellow man better after your reading journey.
Those statements about this book are true.
Into The Free is the sort of book that leaves me asking "How does the author do that... how does she write so well that some parts of the book hurt to read, and some parts fill you with hope?"
What a gift Mrs. Cantrell has! When I opened the pages of this book, it was like opening the very door to Millie's world.
And Millie's world overwhelms me when I think about it: such a young girl navigating a youth of storm clouds and pitch-black swirling waters that threaten to drown her, the way they seem to drown her mother and father.
Millie loves her mother, and tries her hardest to love her father, but she is just a child and can't carry those burdens by herself! She can't understand what made her family the way it is.
A moment surrounded by joy and acceptance comes from the Gypsies that return to town every year. An old Babushka gypsy and a young man named River both draw Millie... and both have so much life in them. Their life spills over into Millie.
In the author's note, Julie Cantrell said that Into the Free was her love song to Mississippi. I found that fascinating. That is a perfect description of what she created when she wrote this book. A love song spun around a place and a time and a young girl living and growing... and most of all the process of healing.
Thank you to David C Cook Publishers, to Karen and Lisa, for sending me my copy to review!