Best Books of 2021

  1. The Four Winds: Kristen Hannah has done it again. Her Cinderella-esque tale of a woman who resecues herself from a live of drugery, poverty, and low self esteem is one to be read again and again.
  2. Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People: Ben M. Freeman‘s treatise on Jews, and Jewish history is a must read for anyone who for once and for all wants to defeat antisemitism and all forms of hate.
  3. Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol: Mallory O’Meara‘s non fiction book explores how inspite of a certain image, women have been creating and drinking all forms of alcohol for centuries.
  4. I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J Trumps Catastrophic Final Year: The subject of you know who will be on the lips of writers and political historians for years to come. Authors Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker examine how the former President believed that he did not need help in running the country.
  5. Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood: Writer and podcaster Mark Oppenheimer tells the story of how a single neighborhood was affected by the murders of eleven Jewish residents in 2018.
  6. Peril: Bob Woodward and Robert Costa take a deep dive into how close the American democracy got close to destruction.
  7. The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh: This JAFF by Molly Greeley gives the spotlight to Anne de Bourgh, a minor Pride and Prejudice character who has yet to be fully seen or appreciated.
  8. Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Become Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assasins-and WWII Heroes: This fascinating and powerful tale of three young ladies who led an underground war against the Nazis during World War II.
  9. Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers: Written by the Bonnet at Dawn podcast hosts, this book examines the life and works of the women writers we have loved and respected for generations.
  10. The Matzah Ball: A Novel: Jean Meltzer’s Chanukah themed rom-com about two people who are secretly in love, but cannot speak the words due to the current and past trauma.

Here’s to the books we loved in 2021 and the books we will love in 2022.

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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.

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