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The Four Winds (2021)

by Kristin Hannah

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,9391843,100 (4.11)90
"Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli-like so many of her neighbors-must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. 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"--… (more)
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» See also 90 mentions

English (178)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (181)
Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
This book was a real eye-opener! You’d think that as a California native, I would’ve known more, but like a lot of the reviews, the “Dustbowl” was an event I’d heard about in junior high history class, but I was wholly unfamiliar with what a total disaster it really was!

I have also heard folks referred to as “Okies,” mostly by themselves, but it doesn’t carry on as a derogatory term – for them, that they still have kin in “Oklahoma” is a point of pride.

I have several friends, no doubt relatives of Midwestern Dustbowl migrants who decided to stay in California, who are now prosperous raisin and citrus farmers in the San Joaquin Central Valley – Fresno, Merced, Stockton. Others are horsemen in the high desert around Apple Valley, and of course, some are ranchers around Bakersfield. Every self-professed Okie that I know is still in the agricultural business, just as their forbearers were. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.

But I was completely unaware of the dire circumstances in the Midwest that forced those people west; nor was I aware of their California reception, the extent of their exploitation, or the depth of their despair. Likewise, I’d heard of “Hooverville’s” and “Hoover flags” but I thought they were solely products of the Great Depression and back east in New York and New Jersey, not here in California.

It was also disturbing to see the prejudice against, and treatment of, dust storm natural disaster victims and fellow Americans. Even more disturbing was the wholesale exploitation by some farmers. One good earthquake and the shoe could have very easily been on the other foot!

Usually, I review both the actual book or e-book and the audiobook. However in this case, the audiobook is so well done and the narrator so exquisite and captivating, I never felt the need or desire to actually read, vice listen to, The Four Winds. As a bonus, at the end of the audiobook, Kristin Hannah and Julia Whelan are interviewed by the audiobook producer. It’s very interesting to hear how Hannah prepares to write a book of historical fiction and to hear how Whelan approaches her role as narrator. All in all, a well-deserved five stars!

PS: Go ahead and look up some pictures of the “Dustbowl” and if you’re like me, your jaw will drop! ( )
  MajorChris | Apr 13, 2024 |
This book was a blend of 2 Steinbeck novels..."The Grapes of Wrath" and "In Dubious Battle". So for originality, I give it 2 stars. For the writing and storyline, 4 stars. The ending was predictable* but moving nonetheless. (*Spoiler: misunderstood, strong-willed protofeminist finally finds love and amazing sex with quiet, strong, supportive male and now feels complete as a human). This was also a story element in another recently published depression-era novel, "The Giver of Stars". ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Although THE FOUR WINDS is marketed as a novel for adults, for me it's writing style is more young adult, which is not usually to my taste anymore. That is not to say that this is a bad book. It is just more to my 13-year-old taste, especially since many of the chapters are written from a teenager's point of view. THE FOUR WINDS reminds me of a John Jakes novel I read when I was 13.

This novel begins before the Great Depression. Elsa has grown up lonely and unloved. She later marries a younger boy and moves to his parent's farm in Texas.

Skip a few years now to the time of the Depression. Elsa has two children, and her husband has run away. She stays there on the farm with his parents and tries to fight the horrible drought and dust storms. After her son is hospitalized with dust pneumonia, Elsa and her children move to California. But their life there becomes even worse. Out of necessity, Elsa becomes involved with Communists who want to strike against the field owners, who were not paying their workers enough to feed their children or pay rent.

Prepare for a depressing read from beginning to end. Once or twice a good thing happens, such as when a security guard gives Elsa $5.

I wasn't pleased with THE FOUR WINDS, but you may be, so read other reviews. ( )
  techeditor | Apr 4, 2024 |
Oh, I just love how Kristin Hannah writes - doesn’t seem to matter what the subject, she nails it, and the Four Winds was no exception. I have to admit, I have seen some less than glowing reviews, most mentioning how the book was simply too depressing to finish. Seriously?! It’s about the Dust Bowl and Depression - how could it be anything but depressing? Those kind of negative or less than glowing reviews should just be disqualified.

Yes, the story was sad, depressing at times, and seemingly without hope, but all you have to do is turn the page and there it is, hope. The story is one of perseverance, doing the right thing, working hard, family, and love - the story is about real life.

I admire how the author wrote a beautiful story about a horrible time in history that has likely been forgotten existed by most. The Four Winds is a good lesson in being grateful for our abundance.

Well done, Ms. Hannah - keep swinging for the fence. ( )
  LyndaWolters1 | Apr 3, 2024 |
Another great book from Kristen Hannah. ( )
  rocketshackgirl | Mar 13, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
Hannah brings Dust Bowl migration to life in this riveting story of love, courage, and sacrifice...combines gritty realism with emotionally rich characters and lyrical prose that rings brightly and true from the first line
added by Dariah | editPublishers Weekly (starred review)
 
Epic and transporting, a stirring story of hardship and love...Majestic and absorbing.
added by Dariah | editUSA Today
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kristin Hannahprimary authorall editionscalculated
Whelan, JuliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
To damage the earth is to damage your children.
                                             --WENDELL BERRY,
                                            FARMER AND POET
I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. . . .  The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
                                          --FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.
                                            --CÉSAR CHÁVEZ
One thing was left, as clear and perfect as a drop of rain---the desperate need to stand together . . . They would rise and fall and, in their falling, rise again.
                                  --SANORA BABB,
              WHOSE NAMES ARE UNKNOWN
Dedication
Dad, this one's for you.
First words
Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love.
Quotations
Be brave, or pretend to be.  It's all the same.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli-like so many of her neighbors-must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. 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"--

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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.
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