TITLE: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Format: Paperback (15 Hours, 2 mins)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Blurb: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras—the Great Depression.
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.
I feel like I’ve heard this story but from family members and it never gets easier to read. As a child of Nigerian Immigrants, I shed tears for the pain in these stories and for the blind eye we turn to “those people”.
Elsa and her two kids moved from Texas to California during the dust bowl migration, but were met with prejudice and derision. Their plight just never got better.
My mind is boggled that all the reviews talk about how people feel bad to their core for Elsa, Laredo, Ant etc. BUT this sympathy doesn’t extend to Black people, Mexicans or Immigrants who had faced this same situation and continue to face a similar predicament even now.
This story reads the same as many black sharecroppers who got freedom only to work in a system that wouldn’t allow them to get out of debt. They were essentially enslaved while free.
The destitute Elsa and her children were just like many poor Immigrants who came looking for a better life for their family only to be called vile names, worked in unimaginable conditions, and denied human decency. I guess sympathy and empathy is easier when the downtrodden is a White woman with two young kids who were forced to pick cotton and clean houses 10 hours a day for 40 cents; refused healthcare; and denied work if they dare ask for better wages.
I wasn’t shocked to learn that being frightened and beaten into submission by masked men hoping to break their spirits was employed here just like they did to the black people in the South. The nerve “those people” had to strike and speak out against the unimaginable work & living conditions.
🇺🇸 This was Elsa’s America…This is still America.
Kristin Hannah is just an amazing writer because I connected with this family and was invested in their journey. I also appreciate this author’s decision to tell this story from a mother’s perspective. I often tell people that my choices always take into consideration how they will affect my children. I saw that in Elsa’s life. She was a warrior. I was proud of her as I am of many single parents. There is a silent strength and resilience that kids don’t see or understand until they are much older. Julia Whelan is one of my favorite authors, she just transforms characters with her voice and is a treat to my senses.
This book is one that will definitely stay with the reader for a long time! Another outstanding book by Kristin Hannah.