This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Into the Free
David C. Cook (February 1, 2012)
Julie Cantrell

A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie Cantrell was the editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and currently teaches English as a second language to elementary students. She has been a freelance writer for ten years and has published two children’s books. Julie and her family live in Mississippi where they operate Valley House Farm.

Julie served as contributing editor to MOMSense magazine and wrote content for Mothers of Preschoolers, Intl. for nearly a decade. Additionally, she has contributed to more than a dozen books. Into The Free is her first book.


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 which 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?

Watch the book video:

If you would like to read the first chapter of Into the Free, go HERE.

Learn more about Julie and her books on her Website.


Into the Free was a beautifully haunting but gritty novel that pulled no punches about telling it like it is yet was restrained in its descriptions of brutal events. This novel is a story of despair that is countered by a misguided hope for much of the story.

Millie has grown up in a household with a rodeo father who is rarely at home but who beats her mother when he is around. Her mother has found an escape through opiates and spends much of her time in what Millie thinks of as the “valley”. The only stable influences in her life are “Sloth”, an old man who watches out for her and makes sure that she is fed and the town librarian. It is no wonder that she has spent years looking forward to the spring arrival of the gypsies and dreaming of escaping with them “into the free”. In particular, she dreams of spending her life traveling with her gypsy friend River who she is convinced she loves. Tragic events quickly change everything in her life and Millie soon finds new people who seem to care for her but her unstable background makes it difficult for her to trust others or to believe that she is deserving of a better life.

Into the Free is a good example of the resiliency of the human spirit when confronted by misfortune and tragedy, especially when that person begins to rely on the Lord. At times this book was hard to read because of the overwhelming circumstances that Millie had to face but her story was so compelling and well written that I just had to see how things would turn out for her.

It is difficult to believe that Into the Free is Julie Cantrell’s very first book. It has the stamp of an established author. I look forward to reading future novels by her – hopefully soon.