Into the Free: Powerful Novel of Love and Forgiveness

Into the Free: Debut Novel of Love and Forgiveness from Southern Author Julie Cantrell

Gritty, compelling, and beautifully told, Into the Free will take you into a coming-of-age story filled with heartrending hardship and luminous hope. Julie Cantrell is a writer to watch!”
—Lisa Wingate, bestselling, award-winning author of Dandelion Summer


COLORADO SPRINGSDebut author and editor of Southern Literary Review, Julie Cantrell, writes an extraordinary story of love, survival, and forgiveness in the new David C Cook release, Into the Free. Readers will be awed by Millie Reynolds, a young girl fromMississippi who has packed a lot of life into her seventeen years.

With an abusive father and a “nothing mama,” it seems that young Millie has no hope. She longs to flee Depression-era Mississippi and the madness that marks her world. Then a sweet gum tree she calls Sweetie, her beloved neighbor Sloth, and a band of gypsies that caravans through town all combine in a life-changing way. Her traveling friends lead Millie to a box filled with family secrets, and Millie wonders what its contents mean for her future. Will it give her the means to break her family’s cycle of abuse? Will she find a way to be safe and loved?

In Into the Free, Cantrell tells a story so compelling that people will scarcely believe it is a debut novel. Set in Cantrell’s home state of Mississippi, Into the Free has a full cast of genuine characters and a heart-touching story that readers will never forget. The book also includes an AfterWord section with book club-style discussion questions and other behind-the-scenes information. Readers will long remember Into the Free, finding the ordinary yet remarkable Millie to be one of their most beloved characters.



A speech language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie Cantrell is the editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review. She has served as a freelance writer for ten years and published two children’s books. Julie and her family live in Mississippi, where they operate Valley House Farm. Visit her online at



What others are saying:


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.

Publishers Weekly Starred Review, December 19, 2011


“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


“In this lovely novel author Julie Cantrell shows us how our heart’s desire can intersect with God’s plan no matter how many times we deny it, or how blurred the lines between good and evil can sometimes be, and the existence in our lives of angels in disguise we can sometimes see if we just look hard enough. The story’s protagonist, Millie, is beautifully drawn. Her spunk and spirit carves a place for her in your heart as she battles life’s hardships with truth and grace. By the simple act of learning how to pray, Millie finds her way in the world and into the free. Exquisitely written, Julie Cantrell has created a haunting story that will linger in your heart long after you’ve turned the last page.”

Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of The Beach Trees


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