Lindsay and I splurged and brought copies of The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah and it is going on our favorite shelf to smell, hug and love!! We read this one in our Traveling Sister Group and there is so much to talk about. I haven’t stop thinking about this one since I read it and there is so much more I want to talk about. LOL. It is one we highly recommend not to miss.
The Four Winds is a remarkable, unforgettable story that explores family, motherhood, bravery, survival, and perseverance. It is an ambitious story that pulls you into the strength of human spirit while exploring what people are willing to sacrifice for each other in dark times. It’s inspiring to see, hopeful with a good reminder of the sacrifices people made in the past and persevered. It’s all about the characters here that drive the themes to the story. Kristin Hannah packs a lot into one story and captures a time when the environment played against people’s survival. It’s a period of time I haven’t thought about until reading this one, and with the recent effects of the pandemic we now face, it makes this one a relevant one today!
One of Kristin Hannah’s recent trademarks is showing us history from strong, resilient, powerful women’s perspectives who must find the strength to survive. She shows us bravery through women faced with difficult and dangerous odds. Elsa is a skillfully developed, unique character, and her raw, humanly realistic inner conflicts and traits are not what you might expect from a strong female character. Elsa starts off struggling with her self-worth, and she sees herself as she believes people see her. She feels lesser than she is and not as beautiful as people expected her to be, and not as strong as she needs to be. Through her character, Hannah delves into what it means to be brave and using your voice to help others and fight for justice.
“Courage is fear you ignore.”
“It wasn’t the fear that mattered in life. It was the choices made when you are afraid. You were brave because of your fear, not in spite of it”
“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”
The first half of the story shows us Elsa’s hardship farming during The Great Depression, and Hannah holds back no punches here with the dust bowl’s harshness. The story is all about survival, and the family here is tested to extremes. It felt relentless and overdramatic at times; however, I thought it mirrored how relentless it must have been for people living through it. The second half explores the hardship people endured with labour exploitation and the fight for equal pay. We also see how the treatment of migrants in California during the Great Depression mirrors the treatment of immigrants today.
Now that I raved about this one, there are some things I didn’t love as much
It felt a little like it could have been two stories instead of one, and a lot was packed into one story. At times I was a bit overwhelmed with it all happening to one family.
The ending was drawn out, and that added drama to the story and weakened Elsa’s character’s strength and growth.
It felt like the male characters were weak to make the women look stronger.
For me, none of what I didn’t love about the story, affect my enjoyment of it!
A deeply affecting, heart wrenching, unforgettable journey.
Texas, 1934. Drought has stripped the land of all life. Farmers hope and pray for rain that doesn’t come. Everything coated in dirt and dust. Massive dust clouds and storms are everyday life. Families barely surviving. News of better opportunities in California entice many to abandon their land to start over.
The Great Depression. I knew very little about this time in our history prior to reading this book. This novel provides an intimate look into what it was like for farmers to live through this uncertain and devastating time. Farmers forced to sell or give up land to survive. People and animals starving to death. Dust storms demolishing farms and homes. The intensity of the atmosphere within these pages had me completely engrossed and feeling as though I was right there with the characters. The author does a phenomenal job pulling the reader deep into this harrowing and heartbreaking time. My heart ached while reading.
These characters were outstanding! I felt deeply for them. I hoped for them. I worried for them. I mourned for them. I cried for them. I loved them.
This is not a happy story. It will break your heart repeatedly. It is one that I was so completed invested in that I had a hard time putting it down and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even now, days after finishing it, I find myself thinking of the characters and contemplating their decisions. It is not a fast paced story. It is one you need to take your time with to truly appreciate the circumstances and grasp the severity of the time. The writing is exquisite. The atmosphere is palpable.
My one tiny critique would be that I was more emotionally invested in the first half of the book compared to the second half and some of the events near the end were slightly “too much”. Regardless of this, it was a phenomenal novel that has easily earned a spot on my 2021 Favourites Shelf. I highly recommend!
Some quotes that stood out for me:
“Absence could fill a room to overflowing, apparently.”
“She almost said, I’m scared, but what kind of mother said those words to a child who counted on her?”