When we are feeling down, we are sometimes told that we are stronger than we think we are. As cliché as it sounds, it is also the truth.
Kristin Hannah’s new book, The Four Winds was published last month. The story starts in Texas in 1921. Elsinore “Elsa” Wolcott has three strikes against her. Strike one is that she is unmarried at the age of twenty five with no prospects in sight. Strike two is that she is perceived to be plain looking. Strike three is that her parents are convinced that her former childhood illness is still within her. They keep her tethered to the family, fearing that it will reappear.
One night, Elsa takes a chance and goes out. She meets Rafe Martinelli, the son of Italian immigrants. After a few interactions, Elsa becomes pregnant. She has no choice but to marry him. The book then flashes ahead to 1934. Between the Great Depression and the dust bowl, the Martinellis, like every other farming family in that part of the country, are dealing with hard times. On top of the external pressures, Elsa’s marriage is on shaky ground.
With so many of their neighbors moving to California for new opportunities, Elsa is eventually forced to decide where her future and the future of her children lie. Do they stay in Texas and survive as best they can, or take a chance and travel to the coast?
I know that is only March, but if I was to create a list of the best books of 2021, The Four Winds would easily be in the top five. The first line is delicious and perfect. Elsa is akin to a Cinderella type character who rescues herself. Though it would have been easy for her to sink into complacency and accept her fate, she chose to fight it. I also appreciated the relationship with her preteen daughter, Loreda. It was a natural addition to the conflict without feeling forced into the narrative.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.