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Review: The Four Winds

The Four Winds

Title: The Four Winds
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Count: 464
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Date Published: February 9, 2021
You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Goodreads 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.

Overall Thoughts:

Given the mega popularity of Kristin Hannah, I still had never committed to reading one of her novels. As a historical fiction fan, I figured it was time to rectify this … maybe I picked the wrong book to start with? I knew she was the Queen of Cry, but seriously? This was just so dang heavy handed. I absolutely abhor author manipulation, and from page one I knew that the entire purpose of this story was to make the reader cry. Yes, this is a story about the depression but it didn’t need to be so, well, depressing. Its singular focus on the melancholy and mournful left little room for connection of character or development of a plot. 

My problem lies in that this really didn’t read like a novel but rather a collection of horrifically sad true tales of the Great Depression, life in the “dust bowl 30s” and the migrant experience to California. Hannah has rounded up every sad story she could muster and slammed it all on one character. 

I can’t deny that Kristin Hannah is a talented author – she writes with an excellent fluidity and penchant for the drama that I’m sure is book club catnip. I personally couldn’t tolerate the level of heavy handed story manipulation that made up The Four Winds – it lacked balance, nuance or depth. If you’re looking for a good cry and some time to wallow, you’ll find it here. 

Read This If:

  • You thought The Pursuit of Happyness was a light hearted comedy. 
  • Need a good cry. 
  • Are in a mentally strong state and can handle 400+ pages of misery. 
  • Are looking for some perspective on hard times of the past and the mirroring of today.

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