Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review of "Into the Free" by Julie Cantrell

Rating: 5 Stars
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Synopsis from David C. Cook: Young Millie Reynolds must confront the past and overcome her family’s long history of destructive choices before finding her own path to freedom.

Millie Reynolds knows firsthand the shame of family secrets. With an abusive father and a “nothing mama,” she craves a place of true belonging. Over time, the Gypsies that travel through town each spring offer acceptance. Then tragedy strikes and Millie leaves her world of poverty to join a prominent family on the other side of town. There, with the help of unlikely sources, Millie uncovers painful truths about her family’s past as she struggles to face a God she believes has abandoned her. When unconditional love is offered, Millie learns the power of forgiveness and finally discovers where she belongs.

Review: Into the Free is a southern coming-of-age tale of pain and freedom.  Julie Cantrell drew me into Millie Reynold's story from the very first page.  The depth and symbolism woven into the pages give Into the Free a literary quality unmatched by more lighthearted books. Cantrell tackles many heavy subjects in her latest novel, including death, physical and emotional abuse, and addiction.  Reading each event from Millie's perspective, makes her pain more tangible.  I truly doubt that any reader will not be impacted by the obstacles that Millie faces in her quest for freedom.

The story begins in 1936 when Millie is just 10 years old, but shouldering the burdens of an adult. Seven chapters later, it is 1942, and Millie is a teenager still battling the same scars of a turbulent childhood and facing new struggles, but also the dawn of new dreams. Cantrell creates a unique cast of gypsies, cowboys, poor farmers, and proper southern families, that all merge to create a cohesive and powerful plot.  Each group offers new experiences and insights into life, making the plot more intriguing and unpredictable. The migrating gypsies with their magnetic charm and colorful scarves add whimsy and romance.  Meanwhile, Millie finds unexpected comfort and acceptance in the rodeo, but where does she truly belong?  That question kept me turning the pages.  Millie's story is a narrative of harsh realities, but ultimate freedom and hope.  I cannot wait to read Julie Cantrell's sequel and see where Millie's journey leads.

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley, courtesy of David C. Cook.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

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