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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 Nightingale and The Great Alone.

by Kristin Hannah

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, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Rugged


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MarriageIssues

    Marriage issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Quest


Why I love it

Jessica Turner
Founder, The Mom Creative

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.

Read less


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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Four Winds.

Member thoughts

All (46498)
All (46498)
Love (32968)
Like (11502)
Dislike (2028)
46885 ratings
  • 70% Love
  • 25% Like
  • 4% Dislike
  • Altamont , NY

    To describe it in one word - heartbreaking. I devoured this book in 3 days. I couldn’t put it down. It’s very well written and I highly recommend - especially if you enjoy historical fiction ????????????????

  • San Jose, CA

    Everything Kristin Hannah writes is ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️! There was a lot of time/info to cover given the topic, but Hannah did it so well. The story never felt rushed or like something was missing.

  • Warrensburg , MO

    “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. It sounds like motherhood to me.” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Silver Spring, MD

    “Love is what remains when everything else is gone.” By far my fav BOTM. Story of hardship, poverty, resiliency, mother/daughter relationship, love, and redemption, set around Great Depression. 5/5⭐️

  • Durham, NC

    I really enjoyed "Four Winds." The book was well written by a prolific writer. Set during the American depression and the Dust bowl time, it was informative and sad the lives these people . Highly recommend

  • Caledonia , MI

    I don’t know how Kristin Hannah does it-beautifully wrecks me with each and every novel. Elsa is one of the most amazing characters. As a mom, I could only hope to have the love and drive she has ❤️

  • LeMars, IA

    I love Kristin Hannah. She writes beautifully and with so much thought. Every word is intentional and makes all of her stories stick with the reader a little longer than most. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Fishers, NY

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This story is sad, sad, sad for most of the book. I don't see how this book would not make my top 10 list of the year. This is simply a phenomenal story and by the end I had tears streaming.

  • Lemoore , CA

    This book brought me to tears so many times. I live in the Central Valley of California. My father’s parents came to California and were “Okies” during the dust bowl. They never discussed their exp

  • Loganton , PA

    What a heartbreaking and tragic story, so well told that I felt I was on the journey with the characters. I have fallen in love with Kristin Hannah’s writing, and can’t wait to devour more.❤️❤️

  • Melville, NY

    Kudos to Kristin Hannah, the author of “The Four Winds” for writing such a powerful, poignant, captivating, dramatic, thought-provoking, and memorable novel. The genres for this novel are historical

  • Devon, PA

    Wow. I thought there was too much hype around this book until I read it. Historical fiction has never ever been a genre I read because I don’t really like it but KH changed that for me. beautiful ❤️


    What a story! I read this in a day because I couldn't put it down. I cried at the end and thought of all the things I would say to my own daughter- this book really makes you feel some deep feelings❤️

  • Omaha, NE

    Relevant! I never cry reading a book but I couldn’t stop from the minute I started reading about Elsa. The issues of the 1930’s (emigrants, wealth distribution, work ethic) are still relevant today.

  • Ogden, UT

    Despite taking place in the 30’s, this book is relevant. There’s too many jobs and not enough people to fill them. I will be forever grateful for my job after reading The Four Winds. Instant Favorite!

  • Manassas, VA

    This book was amazing! It tells a story of enduring the hardships of the dustbowl in Texas and then the hard journey to California, the land of “milk and honey” and the experience of trying to survive

  • St Louis, MO

    “The world can be changed by a handful of courageous people.” This book was way outside my comfort zone but terrifically compelling & beautifully written. Very relevant to current US fight for justice

  • Mobile, AL

    It’s been a long time since I was so emotionally invested in a fictional book. This book was so amazing, and Kristin Hannah’s descriptions made me feel as if I was in the Dust Bowl with her characters

  • Arlington, VA

    A gut-wrenching & inspiring story of resilience & courage. I’m in awe at how much hardship families like Elsa’s went through during the Great Depression & yet somehow still had the drive to keep going

  • Chesterfield , MO

    I’ve been rereading Hannah’s latest masterpiece. Amazing characters and an epic plot. The best book of my year, even if I forgot about it. Feb. 2021 was a lifetime ago. Please keep providing these.

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