Kristin Hannah’s latest novel The Four Winds is as heart-wrenching as it is relatable for anyone who has lived through uncertain times (I’m looking at you, global pandemic). Though this novel is decidedly not about Covid-19, it transports readers to another time of uncertainty to when people faced mass unemployment, wells dried up, dust clouds filled the sky, and many went hungry. Despite the grim background, this Depression-era novel is also about hope as it follows our heroine, Elsa, as she tries to cultivate a good life for her family on their Texas farm as the Great Depression and Dust Bowl roll into the Midwest. Elsa’s determination to protect and provide for her children is the driving force behind her journey which takes her family away from the dust storms of Texas to sunny California. As it turns out, California is not the lauded land of milk and honey they had hoped for, and Elsa finds her family falling into even harder times. Despite these tumults, Elsa never gives up hope and continues to persevere and fight for her American dream.
Through Hannah’s vivid writing, readers will be transported into the Dust Bowl and across America during this incredibly difficult era. However, at its core, this novel is about tenacity and a mother’s unyielding love and devotion for her children. I so enjoyed Elsa’s evolution from fearful and hesitant to brave and confident; I love a story about a strong woman and Hannah’s latest work certainly delivers. If you are a fan of Hannah’s other recent and popular works like The Nightingale and The Great Alone, this is another one to add your TBR list.
I borrowed this book from the library as an E-audiobook through the Libby app and enjoyed the superb narration by Julia Whelan. Though this audiobook is a lengthy one, clocking in around sixteen hours, it is well worth the listen. My pro-tip is that I always listen to audiobooks at 1.25x the recorded speed so that I can finish them a little faster. Another benefit of listening to the E-audiobook is that it includes an interview with the author, Kristin Hannah, as she discusses her writing and research process for this novel. As we tread onwards into uncertain times, a novel that reminds us to never give up hope, like Hannah’s The Four Winds, certainly fits the bill.
– Miriam S.