About the Book:
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.
The Four Winds is set in the 1930s; a time in history that has meaning to me as multiple generations of my family moved west in hopes of finding work after losing everything in the Great Depression. The details of the era are vibrant in my mind not just from fiction like Grapes of Wrath but also from first-hand stories from family members. That time in history is sad and depressing, and Ms. Hannah has captured the raw desperation of the wretched lives of children, parents and grandparents whose already meager lives were disrupted by the one-two-punch of the depression and the dust bowl.
“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.”
Ms. Hannah’s lead characters reflect the type of grit and courage we want to have, the type of person we wish to be. I love that she promotes the underestimated strength and determination of women. The author’s descriptive writing truly brings her readers along for the journey.
“The children’s lives would never be the same after today. Their opinions of everything would change, but especially their opinions of themselves, of the durability of love and the truth of their family. They would know forever that their father hadn’t loved their mother–or them–enough to stay with them through hard times.”
Fans of Ms. Hannah’s writing have come to expect the high drama in her stories, and while it might be unlikely that her characters not only come across but are triumphant in all the situations presented, those life hurdles are representative of the era in which the story is set. I have a love-hate relationship with the author’s books. In many ways her books are formulaic, but each draws deeply on my emotional well. The Four Winds is an emotional read that fairly depicts the struggles of the Great Depression and the impact of the Dust Bowl.
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