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The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Historical fiction

The Four Winds

Book of the year

Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to The Four Winds!

Repeat author

Kristin Hannah is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Great Alone and The Nightingale and The Women.

by Kristin Hannah

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Quick Take

From the Texas plains to the California coast, this Depression-era tale follows a family striving for a better life.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, 400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Rugged

    Rugged

  • Illustrated icon, Marriage_Issues

    Marriage issues

  • Illustrated icon, Quest

    Quest

Synopsis

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.

Why I love it

You will not be able to put The Four Winds down. Literally. I’m a working mom with three young kids, and I read this 450-page book in 36 hours. The characters are unforgettable, the storytelling is captivating, and the parallels to life right now are notable. It is Kristin Hannah at her absolute best.

The Four Winds takes readers to the Dust Bowl, where Elsa Martinelli lives with her in-laws, drunk husband, and two young children. Struggling to survive in every way—physically, mentally, and emotionally—Elsa must make hard choices for the sake and well-being of her children. Should her family stay and try to survive the drought or head west to California, where word of work, sun, and prosperity seem like the Promiseland? Spanning two decades, The Four Winds is a portrait of the grit, courage and sacrifices made by ordinary people trying to achieve the American Dream.

The Four Winds speaks to our deepest desires—to be loved and wanted, to be understood, and to make a difference. I found myself drawn to the gamut of emotions the characters experienced and was moved to tears at multiple points. As in The Great Alone, the land is like an extra character in the book, adding depth and complexity to the story. Kristin Hannah clearly did her research, making this the kind of historical fiction you want to press into the hands of all your friends. It is a masterpiece, and I’m already certain it will be one of my top books of 2021.

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View all
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women
The Women
The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade
Spitting Gold
The Great Divide
The Storm We Made
The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard
What We Kept to Ourselves
The River We Remember
The House Is On Fire
Magic Lessons
The People We Keep
The Attic Child
Hester
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
The Nightingale
The Secret Book of Flora Lea
Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?
Peach Blossom Spring
Hang the Moon
Sisters in Arms
The Postmistress of Paris
Summer of '69
All the Light We Cannot See
The Four Winds
Independence
The Library of Legends
The Night Tiger
Queen of Thieves
Pachinko
The Glittering Hour
The Summer Wives
The Great Alone
The Age of Light
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
The Paris Hours
The Golden Hour
Manhattan Beach
The Wonder
The Japanese Lover
The Witches
Saint Mazie
The Marriage of Opposites
Church of Marvels
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
Jacqueline in Paris
Don't Cry for Me
The Christie Affair
Bloomsbury Girls
Bronze Drum