The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Into the Free by Julie Cantrell

Title:  Into the Free
Author:  Julie Cantrell
Publisher:  David C Cook
Release Date:  February 1, 2012
Pages:  370
Into the Free by Julie Cantrell
About the Book:  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.

Wanda's Review:  Iti Taloa, Mississippi - Millie is a survivor living in a dysfunctional family. She lives in a dirty old slave cabin with a barely there father and a weak and withering mother. Jack, her father, severely beats her Mama, but Mama keeps it a secret. Mama said "there is nothing worse than the shame of being unloved." All of Millie's life she has wanted to hop a train and get out of Iti Taloa and "into the free." 

Sloth, an endearing character, is old enough to be Millie's grandfather. He teaches her how to survive, and was the closest thing to a father image Millie ever had. Sloth becomes Millie's guardian angel. 

River is a gypsy and a loner. He is well-read, and a well groomed adventurer, rather than the stereotyped traveler. To the gypsies, home is wherever, and Millie becomes fascinated with them. They sing and dance, wandering the streets. River knows all about Millie's tattered life. Millie shows every dark corner of her soul to River and he confesses his love to her. 

Babushka, an old gypsy woman with the cat eyes, gives Millie a key to her Mama's hidden box - a key that would unlock all the evils into her Mama's past, revealing many dark secrets. 

An interesting and charming character, Bump, works for a rodeo and has the reputation for breaking the wildest horses. He teaches Millie how to ride a horse and soon becomes romantically drawn to her. 

All Millie ever wanted was to feel loved. She wanted control of her life, without the fear. She wanted to be worthy of love and happiness - worthy of a good life filled with good people who would love her in return. Most of all she wanted to find peace and to find her special role in life. Years pass by, secrets are revealed and the story unfolds ---

Quote from the book - "Shame is the only thing I know that can be silent and loud, all at the same time."

I was so extremely touched by this novel - one of my all time favorites. You'll become entangled in sadness throughout, as sensitive issues are dealt with. I loved the author's style of writing, painting a picture with her words - vivid imagery of scenes - making me feel like I was there. She delves into the hearts and minds of each character, clearly stating their personalities. This is an amazing story that will remain in your thoughts long after the final chapter is read. Beautiful, powerful, and soul stirring! My rating is 5 stars. Don't miss the sequel, When Mountains Move #2 . 

I received a complimentary copy of this book along with When Mountains Move from the David C Cook, the publisher, as a "first-reads-winner."

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.