Book Review: Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.” Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows. By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive. In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa―like so many of her neighbors―must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family. The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.
I don't read a lot of literary fiction. I tend to stick to the genres I really enjoy, but there are plenty of times that I branch out into what's really popular. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I picked up Four Winds. I've seen Kristen Hannah's work out there for quite a while, but I'd never read her stuff before.
Set in Texas during the dust bowl and great depression, this is a story of resilience, trauma, and finding your voice.
At first, I wasn't sure that I was going to like this one. I felt like I was so different from the main character. On the outside, she seemed like a meek woman who only ever sough other people's approval. On the inside, she was a warrior.
One of the main reasons I don't read a lot of literary fiction is because they're either plot driven or so far from the characters that I don't like it. I enjoy character driven stories. I want to feel the things the character does: their wants, their needs, what they're going through. I absolutely felt that here in Four Winds. The story switches between the perspectives of Elsa, a young woman raised to believe she wasn't worth anything, and her daughter, Loreda, who was raised to dream and to dare. Both are women who have been through very difficult things. They have strong voices that make you want to keep turning the page.
Four Winds really is a wonderful book. It's a tale of two women, two sides of the same coin, and how they persevere through the hardest times. But, they persevere. I even got a little teary-eyed at the end.
I'm still looking for the book that's going to make me sob. If you've got recommendations, toss 'em my way!
Thanks for reading, Abbie