Cover Image: The Four Winds

The Four Winds

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I don’t know if you’ve heard of this little known author:  Kristin Hannah?  She’s written a book or two prior to this one... 😏
Seriously, if she writes it, I’m there.
Until last week, I had no idea what The Four Winds was about.  When I heard that that it was set in The Dust Bowl, I immediately had flashbacks to The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, a book I finally read for the first time last year.  Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. 
The Four Winds brings up those same emotions without feeling so bleak.  Elsa is a mother who has to learn to be brave in the face of dire life circumstances.  I loved her character—she’s vulnerable and strong, and I won’t forget her.  The mother/daughter relationship felt genuine in it’s tension and growth.  It’s a poetic, heart wrenching, poignant story and I absolutely loved it. 
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Kristin Hannah does it again by writing an amazing novel about a time in history that I didn't know much about.  The Four Winds starts in 1934 and spotlights characters with hard core work ethics and determination for survival no matter what it takes during the Great Depression, Dust Bowl, and Black Monday.  When farmers couldn't make a living and were penniless, they escaped to California to seek a better life as advertised.  No one was aware of the real truths about moving out west so Elsa Martinelli took the journey with her two kids with very little money and all of their possessions that fit in their truck.  

Elsa was one of the strongest woman mentally and physically I have read in a book.  Her unflappable willpower and courage to move forward even when everything went wrong.  Elsa never stopped believing that an education would allow her kids to reach their full potential no matter how hard it was to send them.  Her sacrifices and love for her children gave her strength to keep trying. Thankfully, Elsa met some people that assisted her to help her nearly broken spirit rebound. 

The new transplants in California were considered outsiders and lived in unimaginable and disturbing conditions.  Kristin Hannah's vivid descriptions will be seared  in your brain and will stay with you far after you have finished.  The Four Winds also highlighted that our country is still broken and we all need to work to be better.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this amazing book for an honest review!  This should be on everyone's list to read.
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“‘My grandfather was a Texas Ranger. He used to tell me that courage was a lie. It was just fear that you ignored.’ She looked at him. ‘Well, I’m scared.’
‘We’re all scared,’ he said.”

Kristin Hannah’s electrifying new novel, The Four Winds, is set during the Great Depression in the American Dust Bowl and California. It’s a story about courage, and about the ways that love can transform us. My thanks go to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for the invitation to review. It’s for sale now. 

Elsa is born into a wealthy family, but this doesn’t do her much good. She is tall, ungainly, and considered homely by her parents, a contrast to her two younger, more adorable sisters. She was very ill when younger, and the family liked having her tucked away in her room so much that they would like her to remain there. When company comes over, it is suggested that she go “rest.” Affection and kindness are denied her entirely. 
One day, in a fit of unheard-of rebellion, she buys herself a silk dress and sneaks out to a speakeasy. There she meets Rafe, and before long she is rolling in the hay. When the morning sickness comes upon her, her furious father drives her to the Martinelli farm, (“Italians, no less!”) and she is unceremoniously dumped there. The baby is a Martinelli, he tells them, and it—and its mother—are your problem now. 

Rose and Tony Martinelli are not affluent like Elsa’s parents; she learns to haul water and do farm chores, and she learns how to make delicious, cheap food the Italian way. But her father’s abandonment is a blessing in disguise, because the Martinellis are good people. She is happy there with them. She marries Rafe, and she bears two children. But the land has been over-farmed, and soon the dust storms come and destroy nearly everything they have built: 

Past the outhouse, a murky, urine-yellow haze burnished the sky. Wind picked up, barreled across the farm from the south. A board flew off the chicken coop and cracked into the side of the house. Rafe and Tony came running out of the barn. The cows mooed angrily and pushed into each other, pointing their bony butts into the dust storm. 
The door opened. Rose yanked her to her feet, pulled her into the rattling, howling house. 
Elsa and Rose ran from window to window, securing the newspaper and rag coverings over the glass and sills. Dust rained down from the ceilings, wafted from infinitesimal cracks in the window frames and walls. The candles on the makeshift altar blew out. Centipedes crawled out from the walls, hundreds of them, slithered across the floor, looking for somewhere to hide. 
A blast of wind hit the house, so hard it seemed the roof would be torn off. And the noise. It was like a locomotive bearing down on them, engines grinding. The house shuddered as if breathing too hard; a banshee wind howled, mad as hell. 

Friends, this isn’t even the climax. This is sixteen percent of the way into the story. And misery and tribulation continue to rain down on this poor little family and thousands more like them. The crops die, and the livestock that doesn’t starve is killed by breathing dust. Children, including Elsa’s little boy, fall ill with dust pneumonia; no matter how hard they try to prevent it, so much dust is in the atmosphere that it makes its way into the lungs, and so the youngest and oldest are soon in trouble. 

The first half of this novel is a rough read. There’s sorrow, and suffering, and loss, and grief, and I find myself eyeing the page numbers and thinking to myself that if this were written by anybody else, and if I didn’t owe a review, I probably wouldn’t finish it, because who wants an entire story of this? But at about the halfway mark, things begin to change. 

By now, Rafe has hit the bricks. Never a man of character or great resolve, he sneaks off into the night, leaving the three remaining adults to care for the children and the farm. And it is now that change takes place. Without Rafe to anchor the family as is traditional during this period, Elsa is left to make the decisions about her children’s futures, and in doing so, she changes. 

Hannah portrays the Depression era American West vividly and accurately, and this is when the story grows legs. The plight of agricultural workers is likewise dealt with in clear, immediate detail. My one quibble, and it is the source of the missing half star in my rating, is her inexpert portrayal of Communism, which plays more than a passing role in the last thirty percent of the story. The first time I saw farmworkers’ struggles as “shutting down the means of production,” I cleared my throat, but I told myself it was possibly a typo that might be edited out in the finished version. The next two times I saw it, I started making notes. This is not a technical error; this is a dumb-butt error (trying to elude the censors here) that should have been caught on the first pass, and because it appears when the climax ramps up, it is a distraction that interferes with the flow of the narrative. 

Nevertheless, this is a well-written novel, set during an interesting time period. Particularly arresting is the development of the relationship between Elsa and her adolescent daughter, Lareda, whose point of view is shared alternately with Elsa’s.  Setting, character, and plot work together seamlessly to enforce one another and move the story forward, yet if I had to hang my hat on one laudable aspect of this book, it would be character development. 

I strongly recommend this novel to you.
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Great book, Kristin Hannah just keeps getting better and better!
Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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As the Dust Bowl ravages Texas, one woman must make a choice: Leave the farm that has been her family’s livelihood or stay and risk succumbing to cyclones of dirt.

Kristin Hannah’s absorbing new novel begins just a few years before, when it seemed as if Elsa Wolcott might finally have a peaceful, fulfilling life ahead. After a rough childhood with parents who didn’t love her, she met Rafe Martinelli, the soulful and handsome son of Italian immigrants. Unlike any other person in her life, he made her feel valued. She moved in with his family, and together they made a healthy living, raising two children while they worked the earth.

I could totally relate to the Italian immigrants story since I am a 2nd generation American whose grandparents were born in Italy.  Their stubbornness, pride, family above all else mentality, tenacity and veracious capacity to love all rang true.

"The Four Winds" is epic and transporting, a stirring story of hardship and love that is likely to lead to a film adaptation.  This book captured the strength and will and love that we have as Americans, and the courage to fight for a better way. 
As soon as I began this saga, as told by Kristin Hannah, I felt I was in good hands.
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Readers - prepare to be swept away with this novel that encompasses the American experience of the 1930s Dust Bowl and the desperate migration to California. With unforgettable characters, author Kristin Hannah again captures the essence of this time in history with all its pain and drama, while offering hope and love that rises like the coming dawn. Audiobook version with narrator Julia Whelan is also highly recommended!
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This book was incredible! This is the kind of historical fiction I live for! Kristen Hannah did not disappoint. I loved everything about this book.
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This book was absolutely incredible. There isn't a ton of hist fic about this time period, and while there are a lot of sad things that happen in the book, the story is engaging, and I learned a lot about the era as a whole. It's interesting seeing the things that have changed, but also the things that haven't. HIGHLY recommend this book.
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I loved this book. I loved the parallel between some of the things happening in our current world and the time the book takes place in (protests, etc.). I had never studied this era before, but found myself googling photos of it, and it really put me back in that time period. The only thing I did not like was the animal death.
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This is the first novel written by Hannahs that I’ve read and I will definitely read more.  Her style was engaging and I especially liked the strong female protagonist.  This novel would be good in the study of the Dust Bowl.  It reminded me of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.  Even though i was frustrated at times by Elsa and Loreda, I continued to cheer for them and they persevered.  Excellent book!
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Another triumph for Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds tells of the epic tragedy of the Dust Bowl and the indomitable human spirt that enabled people to survive it. The time period has always fascinated me & I loved reading about it, though by it’s very definition it was tragic. It’s hard to imagine people actually lived through it. And the terrible conditions they encountered in California were eye opening too—I hadn’t known the specifics of how poorly the migrants were treated & how they traded one sort of calamity for a totally new kind. This wasn’t my favorite KH book, though I did enjoy it.
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I really enjoyed most of this book.
Except the ending.
It gave me much Nightingale vibes.

My favorite part of this book was chapter 16.
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My love for Kristin Hannah’s writing grows with each new book I read. The research she puts into her novels is quite evident, and it impresses me every single time. Reading about the hardships of the 1930s, and the devastation of Dust Bowl period was extremely fascinating. Topping it off with Elsa Martinelli, the most phenomenal character ever, was just extra fluffy icing on the cake. She’s probably one of the best characters created by the author. My admiration and respect grew for Elsa with each chapter, and each new obstacle she faced. She is a true warrior that you can’t help but root for from start to finish. I will always remember Elsa Martinelli. So yes, Kristin Hannah does it again. She knocked it out of the park, and brought tears to my eyes at the very end. I always say that if a book can make me cry, it automatically gets 5/5 stars from me. I highly recommend The Four Winds! (Obviously!)
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What an amazing book. Life in the 1930s can be related to life now. A timeless struggle of the big man versus the many little people. And those who can be brave in spite of all the injustice and anger and find a way to make a difference. It's a story of love, but it's not a love story.

This book made me cry. Literally. I become part of the story and attached to the characters when I read. This book had many struggles, and just when you think the characters' situation couldn't possibly become worse, it does. Again and again. 

Everyone should read this book. You can relate to someone in it. But take something from the story as well.

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. The views above are my own.
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This books tells the story of a part of our nation’s history that is rather hard to swallow. I was so glad for the education about the Dust Bowl and the way it impacted farmers in particular. I loved the family that we got to know and love. In fact, I absolutely loved this book until the 75% mark. Until that point it felt like a solid historical fiction piece that I couldn’t put down. It felt like the last quarter did not match the rest of the book. I still recommend as it is truly very well done and the last part goes fast.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
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I'm not a huge Kristin Hannah follower like many of my friends, but I did enjoy this book. I love historical fiction and came to realized that this was the first novel I've read about this particular time period. I was fortunate to alternate between ARCs in ebook and audiobook formats.

The growth demonstrated by the female characters was exciting to witness! The middle seemed to drag for a bit, but caught my attention again along with Elsa's growth. The action around the ending surprised me, but it felt right.

I absolutely loved the epilogue and recorded conversation at the end of the audiobook!
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Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors and she has done it again. Her descriptive prose is addicting. This book is set in the dust bowl and Great Depression. It follows a family who are trying to have a better life. Your heart aches along with those who suffered through these “hard times.” This book is so relevant to what is happening now. The struggles and pain of generations who cannot overcome poverty. This book is a must read for anyone who loves historical fiction and complicated characters.
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*I rec'd an advance copy of this book from #netgalley. #thefourwinds #kristinhannah

It's 1921 and a time of prosperity in America.  Elsa is the daughter of a well off family living in the Texas panhandle.  All her life she has been told she is unattractive, unwell and destined to be a spinster at 25.  She longs for a connection to people who care about her, and falls in with a handsome young man who her parents disdain. 

Elsa is cast out from her family and begins a new life as a member of a farming family.  The land is rich and fertile and the farm is very successful.  And then the Great Depression hits.  Rain stops, winds blow, and the era known as the Dust Bowl begins. Day to day life becomes hard, then near impossible.   Elsa has tough choices to make
in order to keep her family alive.  

This book does not disappoint.  In true Kristin Hannah fashion, it is an in depth historical fiction that pulls you right into the story.  I learned so much about the Great Depression and tough times.   Read this book.
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Loved this historical novel set during the dust bowl years and in the early days of union activity. What's wonderful about this book is you really care about the characters and feel their feelings while learning more about a time that I didn't know about. History is fun! I kept rushing back to return to the story. I was given a copy of this book by netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars!
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Set against the harsh backdrop of a Texas drought during the Great Depression, The Four Winds follows farmer and mother of two Elsa, who must decide if she should wait out the drought on her dying family farm or try her luck out West. The Four Winds is a tale of heroism in hardship, hope, and the American Dream.

Okay, so I might be judging this one a little harshly because of how much I truly loved The Nightingale and The Great Alone. For a story set in such a complicated, difficult time, I think the characters and the plot were just a little too simple. The villainous characters were very one-dimensional, all bad with no heart. The start felt very after school special, and it took a while to pick up. I definitely appreciate the Dust Bowl history and labor organizing. But I think the whole thing could have been much better by complicating the characters and motives a little more.
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