“The Four Winds,” the latest novel by Kristin Hannah, is a sweeping tale that begins in 1921 Texas. Elsa is 25-years-old and is from a well-to-do family but, since contracting scarlet fever at the age of 14, has been told that she is sickly and unmarriageable. Early on in the story she falls in love with Rafe Martinelli who is from a family of farmers, she becomes pregnant, is disowned by her family, and then gets married and earns the love and respect of Rafe’s parents.
Elsa soon learns that she has also fallen in love with the land and is much stronger than her overbearing parents ever gave her credit. The Dust Bowl hits Texas and is ravaging the land and it is hard on everyone but hardest on the farmers. As the story unfolds and her husband has left his family, Elsa must decide if she wants to stay with her beloved in-laws or head to California with her two children and try to find work and, hopefully, a better life. She does make the heartbreaking decision to leave then faces intense prejudice and hardship as a migrant worker in California. She even gets involved in the migrant workers strike.
Amidst all of the turmoil, Elsa remains resilient, she forms wonderful friendships and loves her people with a vengeance. Eventually she comes to realize that she also deserves love and is loved by many in her life. Elsa and her life happens in a point in history about which I knew little. I enjoyed reading and learning about this time through the eyes of a character who started out frail and unloved and grew to be strong and surrounded by many loved ones. If you enjoy Kristin Hannah’s books or if you have not yet read any by her, put this popular book on hold as it will be worth your wait.
Reviewed by: Rachel Maggard