The Four Winds

A Novel

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Pub Date 02 Feb 2021 | Archive Date 23 Feb 2021

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Description

From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

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.

From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country...


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Featured Reviews

I received an ARC digital copy of Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds directly from St. Martin’s Press and am delighted to offer my unbiased review. My thanks to Erica Martirano and DJ DeSmyter of St. Martins Press, NetGalley, and to Kristin Hannah. Having read The Nightingale and The Great Alone, I was familiar with Ms. Hannah’s ability to portray strong female characters. She writes with fastidious attention to detail; she does her research well. In several reviews, I have seen comparisons, even as criticism, that this book is much like John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It has been far too many years since I’ve read that epic Pulitzer Prize winning novel so I can’t do a detailed comparison. However, Hannah’s story, like Steinbeck’s, chronicles a family’s struggles during the Dust Bowl and Depression. Both reveal the search for a better life and also the fight for unions, better work conditions, and higher pay. Elsinore “Elsa” Martinelli shows us what true grit really is. She is the product of a family that does not really love her or accept her for who she is, nor do they accept others whom they consider to be beneath them. When Elsa becomes pregnant unexpectedly, she is forced to marry a man many years her junior. While she grows to love him, times are tough. With the love and support of her in-laws, Rose and Tony, Elsa evolves from a frail, book-loving town girl to a hard-working, competent mother and farm wife. Yet she never considers herself strong or brave. When the tough conversations need to happen, she tends fall back on her old habits by withdrawing into herself. I didn’t love Elsa at first. It took a while for her to grow on me. But grow on me she did. The Four Winds is a story that requires patience because reading about the day in, day out hardships of what was to be called “the Dust Bowl” is painful. There are days and weeks and months without rain. Supplies are dwindling. Friends, neighbors, and families are packing up and leaving for “the land of milk and honey” – California. Rafe is restless. And he fills their daughter Loreda’s head with dreams, too. This causes friction in the family, but as always, Rose is her pillar of strength and wisdom. My heart broke for this family, and I couldn’t help pulling for them. So much of what happens is predictable, although some of it is not. Some of the events are remarkably good; others are terribly depressing. All of it seems realistic, especially the descriptions of life on the farm in the encampment. Then there is the discrimination, the hatred, the back-breaking work the migrants did for hours for so little pay. The characters felt like real people to me. If I have one complaint, it is that the ending happens so quickly. Despite the despair and hardship, there is also hope. There is hope that Loreda and little brother Anthony – called Ant (love that!) will go to college and have a bright future. There is love, so much love, despite the fights and the struggles. As Elsa tells Loreda, “It’s durable. It lasts.” 4.5 rounded to 5 stars

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BRAVO to the author, this is her best work yet. This was so thoroughly researched and well written I LOVED it. IT showed the strength, the bravery, the hesitancy, the will of the people during the Great Depression. It was so moving, so vivid, I could feel the dust in my teeth, the coughing from the dust, and the insects coming out of hiding. I loved the characters. Especially the relationship between Rosa and Elsa. I can't stress enough how timely this book is and how thought provoking it truly is. Everyone should read this book. This is the new American classic. THank you to Netgalley, the Publisher, and the author for letting me read this extraordinary book.

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Thank you Netgalley, St. Martin's Press and Kristin Hannah for an early ready copy! I absolutely loved this book! I didn't know much about it when I started it, as I will read anything by Kristin Hannah, but this book is exceptional. Elsa Martinelli is a young woman whose life has been defined by her parents; after a childhood illness, she is considered not strong, not healthy, not pretty and a lifelong spinster. A chance meeting with a young man changes her life in a most unexpected way. As she leaves her parents to become part of another family, she learns what family can and should be, and just how strong and capable she is. But after years of living on a farm, in the midst of the Great Depression when things can't get any worse, they do. The winds scour Texas as they do the Great Plains, killing crops, drying up water, and leaving people with nothing to eat and nowhere to go. Like many others Elsa heads west to start a new life, but this time with her two children. In California, Else learns that things are not as they have been advertised. Caught up in the endless cycle of abusive employers, lack of money, hatred and discrimination by the locals, like many newcomers Elsa feels trapped. But an unexpected encounter leads her to recognize the internal strength she has always had and helps her to become the leader she has always been inside. The Four Winds is tells story of the migrants from the Midwest in the story of Elsa. This is historical fiction at it's best: compelling, compassionate, enraging and courageous. I will definitely read this book again!

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Kristin Hannah writes such gripping and captivating stories and this one is no different. The Four Winds follows Elsa Martinelli and her family as they live during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl in Texas. Elsa, the main character, was someone you were rooting for during the entire book. You wanted her to realize her courageous spirit that was simmering below the surface. You wanted her to find her happiness. And as a mother, you felt her struggle to hold it all together in a time when everything was falling apart. This book was a journey in her self-realization. Kristin Hannah wrote an amazing group of characters and really embodied what the world was like during this time in our history. You felt all the emotions the characters were feeling. You felt the desperation and the determination. The story is heartbreaking and inspiring. This book is a great read with all the feels. If you have liked any of Kristin Hannah’s other books, you will love this one.

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464 pages 5 stars Elsa is a unique character. She is the product of a racist and unbending family and the trauma of her childhood gave Elsa a skewed sense of what love is. Told she was unattractive and too tall, too thin, etc she had very low self-esteem and expectations looking forward. Thinking she was unloveable, she had no expectations and only knew hard work. Steely determination carried her through the hardships. She hardly thought of herself as courageous, but she was. She falls wildly in “love” with a younger man (I put that in quotes, because she doesn't know what love really is until later in her life.) For her trouble, she is shunned and driven out of the family. She, however, finds a true family in her husband Rafe's mother and father Rosa and Tony. They live on a huge farm in Texas and mainly grow wheat. The land is everything to them and it becomes so for Elsa. Rafe doesn't agree. He is a dreamer and he teaches their daughter to dream as well. This causes problems with Elsa and she becomes a teenager. The draught begins. For several years there is very little or no rain. The crops die, the dirt blows ceaselessly. The animals die, the land dies. Hope is lost. People begin to move West. Elsa and her children join the trek to California but it is not the paradise they expected. They find homelessness and hardship. Living in a tent city, begging for scraps, they inhabitants treat them badly. They can't even get help at a hospital in times of emergency. This book is remarkably well written and plotted. The characters are very real. I can see the conditions for myself as Ms. Hannah's descriptions are so vivid and colorful. Elsa was difficult to like in some ways. I felt compassion at her upbringing and extreme anger at her birth family. What horrible people! But she was fiercely loyal. For someone who never finished high school, she was very intelligent and determined to do right by her children. I decided in the end that I liked her. I want to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for forwarding to me a copy of this wonderful book for me to read, enjoy and review.

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Full review online in February. THE FOUR WINDS is a good read, but definitely not a light read. Set in the dust bowl and the Great Depression, it is very sad; and the feeling of sadness and hopelessness never left me as I kept reading. The writing is absolutely beautiful, with parts of the book bringing me to tears. Some of it reminded me of what we are experiencing in today’s world. Yet the indomitable spirits of Elsa Martinelli and her daughter Loreda were what drove the story forward, along with the love of their extended family. This is a must read for all lovers of historical fiction and especially Kristin Hannah fans,

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The Four Winds is Kristin Hannah's best work yet. Set in The Great Depression and Dust Bowl Era. Elsa and her family learn what it is like to fight to survive. Set in the Panhandle of Texas, this book shows what it is like to live on a farm and live just on wheat and crops. Rosa takes Elsa in as her own and teaches Elsa everything her own mother did not. Elsa fights to survive and is the glue that holds that family together. As Elsa and family set out West she will do what it takes, but at what cost? One of the highlights of the book is Ms. Hannah's ability to research. I felt like I was there with Elsa, Rafe, Rosa and Tony. Thank you Netgalley and St. Martins for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I was told I would ugly cry, and I did. Told in her beautiful writing style, Kristin Hannah took me on a journey of life during the Great Depression, in the Dust Bowl, and in the shoes of the migrants from all over America. I felt I was with them in the mud, sickness and poverty that California held for them, in tent cities, picking cotton to feed their families. It was strangely related to what many are living through today. Once again the heroine is a woman who doesn't beleive in herself, because she was taught not too. And once again we fall in love with a warrior who finds her power and strength, surrounded by love. Beautiful.

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I loved Kristin Hannah's books. When I read one of her books it's like a friend is sitting on my sofa and says, "Let me tell you a great story." Another wonderful book. The Four Winds is rich in American history. The story starts during the Roaring Twenties. When the economy was booming. Farmers had wheat in the fields. Women cut their hair and won the right to vote. A decade later came drought, The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Families lost everything. For many the only choice they had was to move west to California. The land of milk and honey. What they faced was discrimination and terrible working conditions. They languished in poverty. The bigger story is the main character, Elsa Martinelli. She is a dauntless character. Faced with so much in her life she is courage, strong and determined, no matter what is throw at her. You can not help but cheer her on. But mainly the story is about the family, love, survival and home. Thank you NetGalley, St. Martin Publication and author Kristin Hannah the opportunity to read and give and honest review.

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I have been a big fan of Kristin Hannah for years. This book was just another wonderful novel to add to her list of fantastic storytelling. I was immediately drawn into the character of Else and her life. Her perseverance throughout the book is awe inspiring. This is a wonderful book about keeping faith and having hope even when life seems bleak. Cried and laughed, read all night.

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I don’t usually read historical novels, but this one had me at the first page! Hannah has written a stunning, fascinating work of art that is all about a very strong woman and the power of love to get through even the most difficult and dangerous at times. Thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

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I'm not sure how to start. I know what I had planned on saying and I still may but I have to get started. First, I'd like to thank St. Martin's Press, NetGalley and Ms. Hannah for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. What an amazing story. What an amazing story teller. Of all the authors I read, Ms. Hannah has the greatest ability to bring me directly into the story the minute I open the book and never let my interest fade, not even a little bit. It's like the book is written to my specific orders. There are others who write this way but not a lot of them. Lately, whether it's pandemic related or age related, if I have to mess around with getting "into" a book, then I've already lost interest. Drop it and move on to the next because if there's one thing there is no shortage of, it's books. Everybody wants to write. I must say that of all the authors I have read, Ms. Hannah stands on top!

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Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors and her newest book The Four Winds was everything I hoped it would be. Truth be told, I started Four Winds synopsis unread, because I love every Kristin Hannah book. While I don’t usually reads historical fiction, this story is a must read. The writing is superb and the character development exceptional. Following the lives of the Martinellis through the Great Depression and the years that followed, was absolutely heart wrenching. The struggles they faced and the injustices they experienced were unbearable. When it seemed it couldn’t get worse, it did. The hardships they faced and the courage they showed was inspiring. The epilogue made the entire story and will resonate with every mother or daughter reading the story. 5 stars.

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Kristin Hannah has been a favorite author of mine since middle school. She has a way of transporting the reader to different eras that is unmatched, and "The Four Winds" is no different. The characters are struggling through the Depression, and I felt the weight of that burden throughout the novel. It was tough to move through at times because the emotional load is full, but that also made the reading a real experience. I would recommend this book for older students -- 12th, possibly advanced 11th grade or elective -- for a historical fiction unit or as a companion novel when studying the Great Depression.

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A beautiful story about courage and being true to yourself. Set during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, we follow Elsa from awkward, ostracized daughter of wealthy parents to farmer to migrant worker. Her tale is heart-breaking and heart-warming. Hannah's characterization was amazing and I felt like I was right there with Elsa through all her tragedies and triumphs. Definitely recommend for fans of Hannah's other works as well as those who like historical fiction and strong female protagonists. I would have read it in one sitting if I didn't have to go to work!

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“Love is what remains when everything else is gone.” At 25, a very lonely Elsa meets Rafe Martinelli. She gets pregnant and disowned by her parents, When she marries into the Martinelli family, she finally finds the love and acceptance she has always wanted from Rafe’s parents Tony and Rose, The Great Depression and drought force Elsa to make the difficult decision to leave the only place she has ever loved and head west in search of a better life. Elsa is a very strong woman who will do anything to take care of the people she loves. The characters are well developed, complicated and easy to relate to. Kristin Hannah does such a great job describing the farm, dust storms, and the ditch side camps that I feel like I traveled alongside Elsa and her children. I even found myself considering the benefits of Communism. This is a beautifully written story about very difficult topics. It will break your heart and bring you to tears. It will also be one of the best books you read all year! Thank you Kristin Hannah, St, Martins’s Press and Netgalley for the ARC.

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I have been holding on to this book, waiting for a long weekend when I could read it and savor it, without interruption. Just as expected, it did not disappoint. Let it suffice to say that today is Sunday and I could not put it down. I was captured from the first page and enjoyed every page. This is the story of a family struggling during the dust bowl and the Great Depression. Elsa is a very unhappy young woman, kept captive by her family in a small Texas town. She breaks away and is disowned after her shotgun marriage to Rafe Martinelli. Despite the difficult start, she is happy farming with her in-laws and children until the impossible years of drought and depression force her to take her children to California in search of work. Hannah describes life in a migrant shantytown in California. The descriptions are riveting. Watching Elsa struggle against nature, disease and poverty is shocking. She symbolizes human endurance. Elsa, the warrior, and her daughter, Lareda, become involved in the turbulent politics of the era. This novel is written so beautifully and with so much depth that it is both engaging and educational. I learned a great deal about the people struggling against the Dust Bowl and utter poverty, I know that reading groups will love this. Thank you Netgalley for this very special book.

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A story about a courageous woman who made a very tough decision to save her family and move away from home. Her strength, perseverance, and kindness was inspiring throughout the book. This book will make you feel love, anger, sadness, desperation, and empowerment. I really enjoyed this novel.

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’If I close my eyes sometimes, I swear I can still taste the dust… Born into a family who lived a comfortable life, if only financially, Elsa feels like an outsider inside these walls where words are spent only to diminish her, to tell her what she will never be - good enough, healthy enough, pretty enough, wanted enough. Any attempt to live a normal life is met with words of disapproval, disdain and disregard for what she wants, let alone needs – someone to show her that she has value, someone to love, and to be loved by in return. Set in Texas, beginning in 1921, Elsa spends much of her time inside the pages of the books she has come to view as her friends. She dreams of a life outside these walls, a place that feels, to her, like a home where she is welcomed and loved. Soon she would be twenty-five, by the standards of the time, without a man, a husband, she would be considered a spinster. Too tall. Not pretty enough, too thin, too timid. Too much of the wrong things, as society dictated, and not enough of the right ones. One night, Elsa goes out without her parent’s knowledge, looking for a night to experience life as others her age did, trying to imagine a life beyond this, a life that included love, a home, and children. A life with joy to balance out the sadness, a life with someone who loved her as she was, with all her faults. On her way to town, she meets Raffaello Martinelli, Rafe. Meeting him, her dalliance with this man will change her life forever. Soon after, she will be married and living on a farm, and working in the fields, cooking and learning much and finding a sense of freedom and love from her new family. The Depression captured the attention and changed the life of everyone, and now drought is changing these small cities and towns dependent on farms, and farming. Farmers are losing the battle as the ground dries up and swirls away covering floors, cars, tables, windows – anything and everything in it’s path, crops are failing, and people are packing up what they can take with them, while others are holding on to the dreams that brought them to this land which is disappearing with the winds. In time, Rafe will begin to plea with Elsa to leave with him, to head west, but Elsa has never known love before becoming a part of this family, and is reluctant to leave, especially knowing his parents will never head west where Rafe wants to go. They own this land; it is the only life they have known since they arrived in America after leaving Italy. Reluctantly, after the dust ends up creating life-threatening conditions, Elsa is forced into accepting that it is time to leave Texas with her two children and heads to California. Having been fed on the stories of the land of milk and honey, and the government claims of plentiful jobs that are waiting, they arrive to a life very different from the one they left, as well as the one they expected. While they are no longer inhaling dust, dirt with every breath, life here is far from the Promised Land they had envisioned. It’s hard, heartbreaking at times, and as outsiders, all those coming in from other states are looked down upon, and treated badly and told they are unwelcome, unwanted, called ‘worthless’ and told to go back to where they came from. Kristin Hannah began writing this novel over three years ago, before the pandemic, before the skyrocketing unemployment that would follow. And yet, this story is so relevant to our current days, the isolation, dwindling funds, people, as she says in her note at the end, frightened for their future, men in power shushing voices in order to further their own desires, wanting us to pay attention to what they say and not what they really mean or what they show by their actions. Or, as the Wizard of Oz said: ’Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.’ Pub Date: 09 Feb 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press #TheFourWinds #NetGalley

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Elsa Martinelli never expected to be the wife of a Texan farmer. She grew up in a wealthy family, but a childhood illness kept her isolated from her parents and siblings. Though she eventually made a full recovery, she was never allowed to socialize with other people and spent her teenage years feeling extremely alone. When charming, good-looking Rafe comes into her life and really seems to notice her, she can’t help falling for him. But an innocent summer of exploration leads to an unplanned pregnancy, and now Rafe and Elsa are tied to each other and to Rafe’s family land. At first, it’s manageable. Elsa is a hard worker and finds a place in the family as a strong, reliable caretaker. But as the country heads into the Great Depression and the overworked farm land dries up with no rain in sight, Elsa and Rafe will have to decide if they should stay in Texas or head west to find jobs and, hopefully, a better life for their family. MY THOUGHTS It always takes me a minute to warm up to a Kristin Hannah novel. She’s a fan of the slow build, and I hate to say that I’m usually a bit bored at first. Elsa isn’t much of a character in the beginning—she’s extremely shy and demure, to the point of having almost no personality at all. But about 20% of the way in, the book really starts to come into it’s own—Elsa starts coming into her own—and I was hooked. It’s crazy to think that Hannah began writing this three years ago because it is eerily relevant today. Watching the economic devastation and racial divisiveness unfold in the story feels painful and personal. We are living this. But I appreciated that, in the midst of so much despair, the focus is on love. And not just romantic love, though there’s some of that, too, but rather on love between women—between mothers and daughters, between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws, between friends. The women are the heroes of this story. They are the ones who keep families together, who keep food on the table. They are committed to their children and families. They support one another when all hope (like, truly, ALL hope) is gone. They are the glue, and their stories felt so right and real to me. In short, The Four Winds is a lovely book. Probably my favorite from Hannah so far. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be another instant best seller. Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the ARC!

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Kristin Hannah’s Four Winds is such a gripping and heartfelt story of resilience and courage in the face of tremendous adversity. The author creates a vivid picture of what the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl were like you can almost feel the heaviness in the air in her descriptions. The development of Hannah’s main character follows Rosa from her early years as a shy and somewhat weak young lady into her womanhood as she grows into a force of strength and determination. The discrimination and the treatment of the migrants seems to hit harder considering what is happening in our country today. A great read. Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity for an early read on this couldn’t put down book..

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Very good book! I loved that Elsa was considered a warrior and showed strength and passion to her children in their struggle to survive. Jack was inspiring as well - standing up for the american people in their right to earn a living wage. This was an amazing story and I didn't want it to end. Unfortunately the ending was not what I imagined but its part of life.

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A powerful story about loss, survival and bravery during the Great Depression. I'll be upfront, historical fiction is not a genre I read very often. But I make an exception when Kristin Hannah is the author. Why? She is one of the best authors, in my opinion, to capture the strength of women under some of the harshest of conditions. Elsa/Wolcott/Martinelli, the heroine of this book, is no exception. However, if you asked Elsa's family, or Elsa herself, she would be described as weak. After suffering from rheumatic fever as a young teen, her body projected that weakness. But page by page, Elsa showed that she has a fighting spirit. Some internal mechanism within her that pushed her to dust herself off and get back up after each time she is knocked down. "I want . . . to be brave," she said, almost too softly to be heard. "What scares you?" "Everything." While I hated life for Elsa under the Wolcotts, the family that should have loved her at all costs, I loved that she got a second chance with the Martinelli family. Her union was far from welcomed, but with time, Rose and Tony, began to accept her as one of their own. And I think that unexpected love repaired some of the damage that her own family caused over the years. "You have the heart of a lion. Don't believe anyone who tells you different." This isn't the first book that I've read about the Great Depression, but it is one of the first that explored what drove a family to take the treacherous journey West in search of a better life. A good portion of the story centers on life in the Texas Panhandle during the Dust Bowl. I had no idea how persistent and horrific life under these conditions could be. It amazed me that each day, this family got up and tried to provide for one another instead of giving up. And the strength they showed during this time would become invaluable when they have no choice but to pack up and go West. There is so much tragedy and heartbreak in this story, that I cherished every positive moment for Elsa, no matter how small. New friends. Repairing a damaged relationship with her daughter. Four walls and a bed. Small compliments from a new man. Elsa deserved each and every one of those moments. While the Great Depression exposed the vulnerabilities of those in need, it also brought to light the strength of character and resilience of the American worker. Although Else always wished for bravery, she proves on more than one occasion that this is a characteristic that hasn't alluded to her. And it's a critical moment, she lets that bravery shine for everyone to witness. *sobs* "Sometimes you have to fight back." This is a beautifully written story, as always, that will have you cheering for the underdog. A MUST READ for fans of this author/genre!

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Kristin Hannah never disappoints. This book, set during the depression in the Dust Bowl ravaged Great Plains, broke my heart over and over again. The story of Elsa, an “ugly duckling” whose family was beyond cruel, is the story of a woman who only wants to be loved. While she was looking in the wrong place, she found a family of her own. And she will do anything for that family. I will read anything Hannah writes. She is amazing. Thank you to NetGalley and St Martin’s press for this ARC.

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I have been struggling with reading lately. Every book I begin, I am in three pages and not a word has entered my unfocused brain. Then along comes Kristin Hannah to wake me up. All I can say is thank you Ms. Hannah. Thank you for reminding me why I love your writing. This time I am feeling the dust in my throat and the sorrow I have often seen in my own mother’s eyes. So if you love a novel that tears at your heart, then Four Winds is what I would recommend.

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Kristin Hannah nails it! As a High School Librarian I am always looking for Historical fiction books that tell a story from an angle students haven't seen before. The Four Winds does that! You will ugly cry! 1921: At twenty-five Elsa Wolcott knows how to be alone. She has spent her years as an outsider in her own family trying to earn the love of her parents "There was a pain that came with constant disapproval; a sense off having lost something unnamed, unknown." Things change for Elsa after meeting, Rafe Martinelli, and getting pregnant. Though initially rejected by the Martinelli's she finds the first true love she has ever known with them. Elsa lives the mantra from her grandfather "Pretend to be brave if you have to." She learns how strong she truly is working alongside Rose and Tony Martinelli who love her as a daughter. But the Dust Bowl takes it's toll on Elsa's family. Looking for a better life she and her children head to California. There they find a United States of America they never knew existed. This is so much more than a book about the Dust Bowl and migrant workers in California. It is a book about adventure, family, love, and the depths we will go to protect our families. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to anyone! You experience life through the eyes of a strong female at a time females were not recognized as being strong. I will recommend this to any students interested in US History that want to feel the real story. FEEL what it was like to live in the Dust Bowl. FEEL what it was like to be a migrant worker. FEEL what it was like to be a woman trying to protect her family. I felt emotionally wrung out after finishing this book; anger, fear, disbelief, sadness, hope, love. You will feel them all as you live the life of Elsa Martinelli.

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Well written historical fiction. Shared with my mom for her insight as well as in her words- sad story but historically accurate and true to the time. We both really enjoyed it

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The Four Winds is very easy to love, but sadly just as easy to loathe. Of course you'll love The Four Winds-Kristin Hannah is the author-for many that's all you need to know. The writing is spectacular-you'll literally feel the wind in your hair as she describes dust storms that come roaring across the Great Plains with little warning. Your heart will break for all the characters endure-unspeakable living conditions, back breaking work for little pay, and brutal discrimination no one should ever experience. The Four Winds holds up a mirror to life in depression era America-and what is reflected there is devastating to read. These are the parts you may loathe. Many of the things we take for granted-indoor plumbing, electricity, access to clean water and decent food- are as elusive as rain during a drought. What's even worse is the way people treat each other. But what shines brightest from The Four Winds is the power of unconditional love (especially the love of a mother for her children), and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable loss and betrayal. Although The Four Winds is set nearly a century ago, many of its themes are just as relevant today. Kristin Hannah's passion for her characters and their pursuit of the American dream spring from the pages. What she has accomplished with The Four Winds is nothing less than magnificient

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A total riveting read from start to finish. From the dust bowl of Texas to the cotton picking farms of California and all the despair that goes with it, this novel will take you on a journey of a tough woman who beats all the odds and takes her children in search of a better life. Kristin Hannah brings the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era days to life in this story of Elsa Martinelli, a tough as nails main character who will occupy your thoughts the entire time your reading this book. This is one of the best books I've read this year with engaging characters and vivid descriptions. I didn't think a book could beat The Great Alone but here it is - Kristin Hannah can't wait for your next book!

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Thank you so much to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. Kristin Hannah, you have done it again! I've read almost everything written by Ms. Hannah and I can say without a doubt that her books hit me right in the feels every time. I ugly cried in the first half of the book. The relationship between Elsa, the main character, and her daughter Loreda remind me of some rough years between my own mother and I - fighting and feeling like we could not get on the same page until I had grown up enough to see her for who she truly was; my biggest champion, my best friend, the catalyst for who I would become as an adult. I think anyone who is a daughter will understand the relationship between these two. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know all that much about this time frame of the Great Depression but this book opened my eyes to a truly terrible time in our US history. I appreciated how much this book exposes the trials that these families went through and I immediately started doing my own research after reading the author's note. Based on other books by Hannah, like The Great Alone and The Nightingale, I certainly expected a well-researched book but this was epic. It truly paints a picture of how difficult this period was for people in this area of the country and the limited resources at their disposal to change the situation. It was also a poignant reminder of what is currently happening in our country today with Americans treating other Americans like they shouldn't have the same rights as everyone else. Hannah points this out herself in her author's note by recognizing how timely this publication is. If you're looking for a book filled with happiness and positivity, this ain't it. But, if you're looking for something thought-provoking, with characters you can't help but love or hate, and a story line full of hope, this is definitely the book for you.

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Rheumatic fever left Elsa sickly and completely discounted by her family. Frustrated she goes out one night and meets Rafe, who showers her with affection. When she becomes pregnant, her family disowns her and Rafe’s family embraces her. The dustbowl and collapse of the farm, the dying animals, and loss of hope drives Rafe to drinking and leaving his wife and two children behind. Elsa’s son Anthony nearly dies from ingesting so much dust, so they leave for California and a promise of the American dream. This book is rich with characters, Hannah makes you feel the dirt on your clothes, the need to sweep inches of dust out each day, and so much dust one cannot breathe. Once they arrive in California, the conditions of the camp and those who are struggling to feed their families are heartbreaking. Big business and the Welty cotton plantation who barely pays them and makes them indebted to Welty is cruel. This book is wonderful, full of rich stories about the trials of the dustbowl and those who tried to make a difference.

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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for my review. I don't know how Kristin Hannah does it! Her books are always well researched, well written and are so unique! There is never a formula to her writing. This book is another great example of Hannah's diverse topics. This one follows the life of Elsa Martinelli, a woman defined by her choices and her inability to settle. This is her story of life during the Great Depression and dustbowl that threatened to take away everything, but she had the courage to push for something more and find something better for herself and her family. This book, although set in the 1930's, has a very modern and timely feel. I haven't found many modern books set in this time period so I found it fascinating! A great story!

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My second favorite Kristin Hannah book!! While reading I was able to visualize everything I was reading. Gave me lots of feels

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