The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is a tearjerker about two of America’s harshest times The Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. This Historical novel uses real events and puts here character’s through tragedy and triumph. This novel can easily get compared to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but teaks it giving it a new perspective what if Tom Joad was a single mother with kids. The perspective changes everything the character of Elsa want to breakdown but is strong for her and her kids. This is a novel that you will want to thank your mother after for all that she has sacrificed for her children’s happiness. This book will make you teary eyed as you go on a journey looking for a living wage. This book will also make you mad at how our fellow men and women are treated and some still treated this badly. The Four Winds drew me in right at the building as I connected with young naïve Elsa and her fairy tale visions of love. The story is grand character development taking a character so naïve and at the end making her so worldly that she almost can’t trust her fellow humans even when they’re trying to help. The novel is a bumpy road with so much heart that you fell every slight and every helpful gesture. Hannah will get in to the soul of her characters and take you with them. This novel does have a little controversy, because it does feature communist, and person raring to go, but this novel is not a secret convert to communism. It has a communist character and another that becomes convinced to rally. You might find yourself going that communist had a point 80 years ago. If anything this book is slightly pro-union, but then again under the circumstances and working conditions that was the smartest choice, and the only real option. But still this book didn’t change my view on unions some are good and some are bad.
The Plot: Elsa is 25, gawky, pale, and tall and lives in 1920’s Texas her family has all but given up on her finding a husband. They call her ugly in not so many words and show her no love. Elsa’s family is well off and spends most her time reading and dreaming of love. She reads is influenced to put herself out there and sneaks out to a bar. She meets a man in Rafe who calls her beautiful and makes her feel it. Rafe is Italian and her family would instantly disapprove. She goes to bed with him not knowing this can cause pregnancy and finds herself pregnant. When her family finds out; they find the man and his family responsible, drop her off, and disown her. Elsa who has lived high society has to become a farmer’s wife and fast. She finds out Rafe didn’t really love her but was more infatuated with her but will marry her. The novel skips a head 12 years in the middle of the great depression and the start of what is known as the dust bowl. It has hit the family hard with no work and no way to farm, Rafe thinks their sanctuary lies in California where they hear the rumor of all these jobs. Elsa wants to tough it out, but Rafe can’t, she’s losing him and her daughter Loreda everyday it doesn’t rain. Will Elsa leave land that is bought and paid for, for the promise of work?
What I Liked: How well these characters are developed. Hannah does not shy away from the difficult conversations. I liked how real this novel felt, how raw the emotions are. I came away learning a lot , I knew about the dust bowl and how hard it was to get work but I didn’t know the discrimination the would be workers felt. I did not know the ties of Communism to the labor movement and unionization. I liked how this story would evoke emotions out of me, and to the credit of the author she did not milk scenes for emotional impact, but would sometimes be blunt and the death explained later.
What I Disliked: The time jumped a little too far in the future the first time, I would have wanted to see the true beginning on the dust bowl and how the character’s reacted to it.
Recommendations: This book is a fantastic read that hits you hard and brings the emotion. The history may not be one hundred percent right, but you feel the history of the era and the hard times. This novels feels very authentic. I rated The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah 5 out of 5 stars. This is the first book I have read from Kristin Hannah and it will not be the last.