The four winds have blown us here, people from all across the country, to the very end of this great land. And now, at last, we make our stand, fight for what we know to be right. We fight for our American Dream, that it will be possible again.Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds
There’s nothing more uplifting than reading a book set during the Great Depression. What’s not to love? People starving, losing jobs, living in large dirty camps, and let’s not forget about the dust bowl. Mix all that in with a woman who has literally been through hell and back, and you have The Four Winds.
You might wonder, whilst reading this book if Elsa and her family will ever catch a freaking break. There may also be a moment or two when you want to throw your book across the room because of all the emotional devastation occurring. Devastation or not, I can assure you that this book is well worth the read.
This is why I’m sharing with you today the 4 reasons The Four Winds will blow you away (as it did me).
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.
*Warning: this book will make you cry tears of joy and sadness (if you consider yourself a highly sensitive person).
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4 Reasons This Book Will Blow You Away
1. Elsa’s unforgettable character transformations
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 meKristin Hannah, The Four Winds
The winner for best character transformation goes to Elsa Martinelli! She began this story as a sheltered, emotionally abused, scared, and incredibly self-conscious young woman. She’s like a nervous turtle hiding in a shell, wanting to leave, but not really knowing how. She has a difficult time finding her voice in the beginning.
By the end of this story, we see a strong, fearless woman ready to take on the world during an impossible time. It’s inspiring to see Elsa become this warrior mother. She will do anything for her kids, no matter the cost to her.
Motherhood helped her find her voice.
2. Because LOVE
Love is what remains when everything is gone.Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds
As I mentioned in my intro, there is a lot of suffering that happens in this book. Things go from bad to worse real quick for Elsa and her family. Thankfully, the bad times don’t last. Kristin Hannah reminds us that even in the darkness, love still remains. Love endures through it all.
Elsa instills this into her kids throughout the story. She does everything she can to make it known how much she loves them. Elsa didn’t grow up with parents who loved her, so she knows how isolating that neglect can be.
When you have nothing, having just a bit of love can make all the difference.
3. All the beautiful and complex relationships
Elsa hadn’t known until right then how much difference a friend could make. How one person could lift your spirit just enough to keep you upright.Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds
The most pivotal relationship in this book is between Elsa and Loreda (Elsa’s daughter). Loreda’s feelings toward her mother, in the beginning, aren’t the warmest. You have to remember, she’s 13 or 14 when this book takes place, and we all know how rough puberty can be. Their bond quickly grows stronger as the family leaves their Texas farm and embarks on a journey to California.
The family learns early on that life isn’t as green in the West as it’s being advertised. I mean, visually there is a lot of greenery, but there isn’t much money. This forces the family to live in a camp with other people in the same boat. As horrible as it is, Loreda sees how much her mom has been sacrificing to give her and her brother a better life.
Another important relationship visited in this book is with the Dewey family. Elsa becomes close friends with the matriarch of the family, Jean. Coming into the camp, Elsa has no idea what to do or how to survive. Jean becomes an important confidant to the family. Both families give each other hope when all things seem lost.
4. The Great Depression – Woof
How can we call ourselves the land of the free when people are living on the streets and dying of hunger?Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds
Most of my knowledge of the Great Depression came from my Kit Kitridge books. School too, but I really only retained info from Kit. Of course, her story, while a bit heartbreaking, is nothing compared to what the Martinelli family endures. I knew it was bad, but when you’re reading this book you can really feel it. It’s like you’re suffering with them when the worst happens and cheering them on when they run into a bit of luck.
Kristin Hanna does make a note that some history was fudged a bit to fit into the timeline of her story. She has some awesome resources on her website, so if the book isn’t enough, then you can check those out here.
Just Read It
I feel like I don’t need to give you any more reasons to read this book. Just read it and see for yourself.
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