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Book Review

Book Review: 'The Four Winds' Is Classic Kristin Hannah—So Grab The Tissues


About three years ago, author Kristin Hannah began writing a novel about hard times in America—the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, economic collapse, massive unemployment and income inequality.

“Never in my wildest dreams,” Hannah writes in the author’s note of her new novel, “did I imagine that the Great Depression would become so relevant in our modern lives.”

Hannah’s newest book, The Four Winds, is a story about love, courage, tenacity and hope, told through the eyes of a woman who escapes the misery of the Dust Bowl only to experience the anguish of the Great Depression. Like many of Hannah’s previous characters, Elsa Wolcott is a strong woman who doesn’t recognize her own power—at least not at first.

For Elsa, heartache was “the lens through which she viewed her world and sometimes it was the blindfold she wore so she didn’t see.”

Abandoned by a husband she loved but never really knew, Elsa’s search for a better life for her children drives them west to California, where they live in Hooverville shanty towns and follow the harvest for meager pay. The bigotry they face as outcast “Okies”—struggling to secure food, housing and a living wage—sounds all too familiar, as immigrants experience the same attitudes and challenges today. By the time Elsa and her teen-aged daughter are caught up in the Workers Alliance strikes of the late 1930s, you understand their desolation and cheer their efforts.

Amid the relentless strife, Hannah somehow manages to pepper her novel with mother-daughter angst, female friendship and even romance—all of it culminating with an unforgettable ending. Fans of The Nightingale won’t be disappointed with the author’s newest work, and they’ll warn you—if you don’t know already—to keep the tissues handy.