“The Four Winds,” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press)
It’s 1921 in Texas, and 25-year-old Elsa Wolcott is considered by her own parents to be an ugly, unmarriable spinster. Elsa’s family is wealthy, but she is horribly unhappy. She dreams of a life where she is loved and where she also feels brave.
One day, Elsa becomes entangled with a young man named Rafe, who she is forced to marry when he gets her pregnant and her parents disown her. They build a comfortable life and family together on Rafe’s family farm. But then the Great Depression hits, and so does the Dust Bowl.
The family is broke and miserable, and it falls to Elsa to fend for her two children. It breaks Elsa’s heart to abandon the land she loves, but as the dust storms worsen, she knows the family must leave. They travel to California in search of a better life, but there, they find even more hardship, even more poverty. Through it all, Elsa refuses to stop fighting for her family — no matter what.
“The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah is a captivating, heartbreaking tale of a family who will do anything for each other — and everything to survive. The strength of Hannah’s prose brings the characters to life in a way that will make you unable to tear yourself away from them. You will celebrate their triumphs, mourn their tragedies, and commend their bravery.
Through it all, it is easy to feel Hannah’s desire to honor those who lived and fought through this devastating time in history. “The Four Winds” is also an ode to the strength and ferocity of mothers, and a declaration that sometimes, love is the only thing that holds us together.
Above all else, “The Four Winds” is merely a really good story, one that hits you in all the right places and will keep surprising you until the end.