When Mountains Move

Written by Julie Cantrell
Review by Sarah Johnson

This powerful sequel to the Christy Award-winning Into the Free opens in rural Mississippi in 1943. Just seventeen, Millie Reynolds has decided to marry Bump Anderson, the rodeo veterinarian whose steady love has given her strength, and escape her painful childhood by moving with him out West. They have three years to establish a large ranch in the Colorado Rockies and make it profitable for its owner, but trauma from her past inhibits emotional intimacy with her new husband and leaves her with several agonizing choices. Should she confess to Bump that she was raped before her wedding as she sought peace in an empty church?

Cantrell’s work has been acclaimed for its realistically complex characters and intense storylines, and her theme of triumphing over adversity is revisited here from a more mature viewpoint. Millie is still vulnerable, and naïve in some ways – readers will recognize the cause of her stomach ailment long before she does – but she’s a resilient survivor who has ample reasons to distrust people’s motives. An attractive neighbor seems to want Bump for herself, and a mysterious farmhand may or may not be dangerous to have around. As Millie learns over time, however, she hasn’t lost her capacity to love.

When Mountains Move follows a more familiar plotline than the first book, as two young people grow separately and together while forming a family, but its emotional depth makes it stand out. The isolated mountain setting makes it read like a pioneer saga, with Millie and Bump fixing up a long-abandoned cabin and living without amenities. The Colorado landscape, with its plentiful evergreens and rugged peaks, is depicted beautifully, and Millie’s Choctaw grandmother is a wise, guiding presence. An inspiring story of personal struggles, faith, forgiveness, truth, and the challenges and freedoms that marriage can bring.