The Four Winds Book Review

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.


The Jeffersons Character Review: George Jefferson

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Jeffersons. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. The American dream is the ability to pull yourself and your family up by your bootstraps. But as we all know, that dream still does not apply to everyone. On The Jeffersons, the patriarch of the family, George Jefferson is not exactly humble.

Descending from sharecroppers, and growing in poverty during the Depression, George became a business owner. Opening a chain of dry cleaners, he was able to move his wife Louise (Isabel Sanford) and son Lionel (played by both Damon Evans and Mike Evans) from Harlem to Queens and then finally to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. There are some in his shoes who would be unassuming and appreciative. But not George.

Like his former neighbor, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), George is arrogant, full of it, and has certain ideas about certain people. Though underneath it all he is a loving and supportive husband and father, that is not the impression one gets upon meeting him for the first time. He takes pleasure in riling up his neighbors, Tom and Helen Willis (Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker), and their maid Florence Johnston (Marla Gibbs). His schemes to bring in more money usually ended up in failure, to be replaced with a new idea.

To sum it up: George Jefferson should be proud of his success. In his time, what he was able to achieve is nothing to sneeze at. But there is a thin line between pride and arrogance. That being said, the reason that audiences have loved this character for nearly fifty years is the duality of being a good spouse and parent and having a large ego. Balancing both aspects, George appeals to the audience in a way that not only breaks boundaries but reveals the human side to what could easily be a dislikable man.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

The Generation That Dies in School

Every generation is known for something.

The generation that lived through the Depression and World War II is known as the Greatest Generation. Their children are the Baby Boomer generation. My generation, otherwise known as Generation Y (aka Millennial’s or echo boomers) is known for the technology that become ingrained in our world.

I am convinced that the current generation that is growing up in 2019 will be the generation that dies in school. Too many young people have died in school shootings over the last few years. The most recent shooting happened earlier today in Colorado. One student was killed and seven were injured.

After Sandy Hook, after Parkland, after the UNC shooting last week, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Our kids should not be dying in school because of guns. They should be learning so they can one day become responsible and prosperous adults. They should not be afraid to go to school. On the same token, their parents should not be afraid to send their kids to school, not knowing if they will see their kids at the end of the school day.

I have no problem with the 2nd Amendment. I have no problems with people who purchase guns legally, are of sound mind and use their firearms in appropriate situations.

What I do have a problem with is that our leaders continue to allow murders of innocent children in the classrooms to happen. When did the 2nd Amendment and guns become more important than our children?

May the memory of the student killed be a blessing to their loves ones. And may we, once and for all, do something so this generation does not become the one who dies in school.

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