Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Kristin Hannah does it again. She introduces these characters that I cannot help but fall in love with, then when I am least expecting it, she shatters my heart. Why do I do this to myself?! The easy solution is: don't read these books. But let me tell you why I do. Because they make me FEEL. They remind me what is important in life. You cannot have happiness without some heartbreak and somehow she is able to convey this in every book I have read of hers. The Four Winds is Kristin Hannah's latest novel, set in Texas amidst the Great Depression and blew me away. You will want to keep the tissues handy...trust me. Add this one to your #tbr when you are in the mood for a female driven historical fiction.
Set in rural Texas, during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, Elsa Martinelli must make a difficult choice: stay on the land she loves so much, but fails her every day, or pack her family up and move to California in search of a better life. A female character driven version of The Grapes of Wrath, The Four Winds unearths the struggles farmers on the Great Plains faced in this difficult time and how much the women of the times took upon themselves to save their families.
Elsa is an interesting and complex character who took me time to grow to love. The book begins with Elsa being under her parents thumb, constantly looked down upon and told she is unattractive and "too ill" to leave the house. Elsa takes it upon herself to escape her parents control and ends up in a situation that is the catalyst for the rest of her life. From there, Elsa becomes a iron backed woman, caring for her children, neglectful husband, and loving in laws, trying to make the best with what they had on their devastated farm land. Elsa is faced with a tough decision of staying on their family land, but possibly putting her children at further risk, or traveling to the land of milk and honey (California) to seek a better life.
Elsa quickly becomes someone you cannot help but root for. She is put in a position that, as a mother myself, I could relate to what went into her decision making process. The amount of pain and setbacks Elsa faces in her life are heartbreaking. To put it lightly, this is a sad story and I guarantee you will shed some tears, so keep the tissues handy. I adored the story of Elsa and her children, especially her spirited daughter, Loreda. KH is a master of her craft and has a way with creating strong female characters that find quickly their way into your heart, but ugh, KH, I need a breather! I feel like every book she writes completely shatters me.
I was lucky enough to listen to Kristin Hannah speak about The Four Winds during the Literature Lover's Night Out hosted by one of my favorite book stores, Valley Bookseller, located in Stillwater, Minnesota. Hearing her speak about the characters and what inspired the story, made me fall in love with this book even more. If you ever get the opportunity to attend an author Q&A, do not hesitate. They give you such a better appreciation for the book.
Content warning: miscarriage, death of loved one, spouse abandonment, childhood neglect/emotional abuse
5 (tear drenched) stars
"Remember, cara, hard times don't last. Land and family do."
“A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me.”
"Poverty was a soul-crushing thing. A cave that tightened around you, its pinprick of light closing a little more at the end of each desperate, unchanged day."
Other Books I Enjoyed by Kristin Hannah:
Click any of the above title links to read my reviews.