I was crying, smiling, shaking my head in disgust, and rooting for love and survival. These were only some of the emotions I felt reading The Four Winds (St. Martin’s Press, 2021) by Kristin Hannah.

Actually, I listened to the book. That was enjoyable because the reader does a great job with the various characters in capturing their inflections as the author probably wanted. Plus, at the end there was a Q&A with the author that gave insight into her research and writing processes.

This historical novel takes place during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression in the United States. I realized I don’t much about the Dust Bowl. Was it more than a paragraph in history books?

What made this so interesting is the main character is a woman. So often history is about men told by men; almost as if women were not there, wherever there was.

With this being a work of fiction, Elsa isn’t a real person. Hannah’s research included reading memoirs from women, so her Elsa character is a compilation of real people. The whole story was believable.

The struggles people found when they arrived in California were most unnerving. It made me better understand the cycle of poverty because of the greed of growers. The hatefulness of those who discriminated against these migrants was unconscionable.

Sadly, many issues in the book are still relevant today. When are we going to learn to do better?

Hannah has such a great way of bringing characters and places to life; I could picture them in my mind. Her descriptive words made me feel the dust, the pain, the love.

Every opportunity I could find I was listening to the book. I’m sure people thought something was really wrong as I was on walks and tears were coming down. I was done with the book well before I had to return it to the library.

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