The Four Winds

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah Book Summary


"The Four Winds seems eerily prescient in 2021 . . . Its message is galvanizing and hopeful: We are a nation of scrappy survivors. We’ve been in dire straits before; we will be again. Hold your people close.”—The New York Times

"A spectacular tour de force that shines a spotlight on the indispensable but often overlooked role of Greatest Generation women."—People

"Through one woman’s survival during the harsh and haunting Dust Bowl, master storyteller, Kristin Hannah, reminds us that the human heart and our Earth are as tough, yet as fragile, as a change in the wind."
Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing

From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah Book Reviews

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- Too Sad4 star

I love to read. I love twists and turns, highs and lows, sadness and joy. This story, which was beautifully written, was a never ending sadness.

- Firefly lane5 star

Loved it. Couldn’t put down. Read last 10 chapters in one night!!

- Depressing Read3 star

If you like to read for enjoyment and to escape this is not the book for you. While the book is well written. The main character in the story has almost every possible depressing thing happen to her that existed during the Great Depression. Including the ending. I kept reading because I thought it has to get better, but it really didn't. However it does show as a nation how far we have come to support low income workers. And while this year has been tough it's been nothing compared to the Great Depression.

- A sad, sad book5 star

The book was well written, however it was the saddest book I ever read. I kept checking the number of pages left and was hoping for a happy moment. It never came. It was a sad time in history and a sad depiction.

- One of the best books you will ever read. Savor each page. Reflect on the true message.5 star

Incredible journey. Strength, spirit, courage, risk, love.

- Love it!5 star

I looked forward to reading it every night. I didn’t want the book to end. Enjoyed it very much!

- Heart wrenching, inspiring, a lesson for today more than ever.5 star

Quite simply, the most empowering book I’ve ever read!

- The Four Winds5 star

I just finished this magnificent book. I learned so much about what happened during the “Dust Bowl” era. Coming from a very strong Union family I only wish I could have shared it with my late husband, who participated in many local strikes. This is my first reading by Kristin Hannah. I cannot wait to start another one of her books.

- MLB5 star

So I

- So good!5 star

A great, easy read- makes you think about your blessings today. My hope for every reader is to find yourself in this story and do better!

- The Four Winds5 star

This was a book I could not put down. Very well written! Heart wrenching, spell binding, interesting, emotional! Everything in one beautiful story!

- Kept waiting for a turn...1 star

Painfully sad and pointless.

- Amazing plain and simple5 star

As a reader who normally prefers non-fiction, The Four Winds captured me completely. A page turner and emotional roller coaster. The development of the characters is remarkable. You can see them, you can feel what they feel, you can empathize. Tragedy and triumph through tragedy ... it’s a concept I was not prepared for. Excellent read.

- Amazing, heart-wrenching story5 star

A very inspiring, sad and thoughtful story that also educated me on an issue I knew little about. Excellent read.

- I couldn’t put it down.5 star

This is the book they should have given us in high school instead of grapes of wrathe.

- Very moving.5 star

I cried, wiped my tears, then cried again. When a book (and author) can make the reader feel what the characters are feeling, it is a truly remarkable experience. I highly recommend this book.

- Not since reading John Steinbeck have I enjoyed a book so much5 star

The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah is a epic novel about the hardships faced by farmers in the Texas Panhandle during the Great Depression and Drought. It is the story of one woman’s courage and fight to survive in order to give her children a better life. Like John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, it follows the central characters from their drought stricken farm in the Dust Bowl to California in search of the American Dream that, in reality, becomes an American nightmare as the family faces prejudice, corruption, neglect, abject poverty and starvation in the land of milk and honey. Characters are well developed; the story is riveting and the plight of this family makes your heart weep and your mind cry out for justice.

- The Four Winds by K Hannah5 star

One of the most beautiful books I have read.

- Another Winner!5 star

Loved learning about The Dust Bowl era! The author once again craftily develops the characters to draw you into her story.

- Depressing Book3 star

Nothing good happens

- Just fantastic5 star

The four winds us there, bringing us back to reality today by see through their eyes the hardships they all endured and we are today humble we are today, and lucky we are with all we have, when they had nothing in a cruel world and still survived. Mikel M , March 2021 Las Vegas NV

- Excellent Read5 star

This author never lets me down. Makes me proud to be a strong warrior

- Be brave5 star

Be brave... best book I’ve read all year.

- Five stars5 star

Love this book. Slow start but then hard to put down kept thinking of similarities to today’s problems at one point enjoyed this book totally and learned from it. Never knew much about the Great Depression in depth but I can see this being many’s story. Oysterlady

- Beautiful5 star

Just read it, it’ll be worth your time.

- Wow...The Four Winds5 star

Only one word I can say.... AMAZING!

- Powerful5 star

The only single word to describe this book is powerful. Full of heartache and struggle this family faces. Beautifully written the author takes you on a journey full of emotions. Absolutely loved this book and I shed some tears along the journey with each character.

- Loved it!5 star

This was one of the best books I have read in a long time. I was brought to tears several times.

- The Four Winds5 star

Every sentence painted a vivid picture of love, courage and a spirit that surpasses all hardships, fears with a determination to rise above our circumstances. A very great read!

- Sad and lovely5 star

Not an easy read but worth it

- You won’t regret it.5 star

Couldn’t put it down. Spectacular!

- Glad I kept reading...5 star

So overwhelmingly depressing and real. I made myself keep reading through every heartache and tragedy. I’m so glad I did. This was the America my parents grew up in during the 20’s and 30’s in Texas.

- Wonderful5 star

I’ve yet to meet a Kristin Hannah novel I didn’t love. The characters are artfully introduced and described with the utmost care. It makes them endearing and real which makes the novel feel far more personal than the average book.

- Never forget5 star

After I started, I couldn’t put it down. It made me think of the dust bowl days differently. Take away: Don’t take anything for granted and stay strong. Very well written.

- Great5 star

Loved this book . One of my favorites by Kristen Hannah . 5 stars

- Another great one5 star

The struggle is so intense I stayed up until the wee hours wanting to see what happened next. I’m wiping my tears having just finished. Great writing, great story.

- The Four Winds5 star

An amazing novel...could not put this book down!!

- Speechless5 star

Simply moving!

- Good, but a little expected4 star

The book was good, but not as good as The Nightingale. I felt that the writing was a little formulaic and some of the dialogue didn’t feel sincere. It had heartbreaking moments, but I didn’t feel as much anguish with this book compared to Hannah’s other books.

- Excellent Read5 star

I enjoyed this book,and the story was sadly beautiful

- Her best novel yet!5 star

Hannah’s books are all amazing. However, this may be the best one yet. I read this in less than2 days, it’s really that good.

- Depressing and monotonous.2 star

Could only read few pages at a time because it was so unpleasant. Dreadful topic and set of characters.

- getting through natural disasters and human prejudices, greed and poverty.5 star

Fast read on a time in history and human hope and strength

- Yes! Must read!5 star

This book left me crying, I admit it. I was grabbed from the very beginning, I was invested in these characters and their fight, their ‘no more!’

- Horrible1 star

This book was an absolute shame coming from Kristin Hannah. Horrible, horrible propaganda piece. What a disappointment.

- A Powerful Story of Love5 star

A powerful story of love in the hard times.

- The Four Winds2 star

Not worth the read. Sad story, sad people, stupid insipid women. Really a disappointment compared to some of her other books.

- A beautifully told story about strength and love.5 star

It’s sad and beautiful at the same time.

- A sweeping, soul wrenching novel5 star

This book hurt my soul and lifted it up at the same time. It’s unimaginable how some people are treated and yet the will to go on survives, the ability to love again remains, the fight for what is just is so strong! Loved every page!

- Great book!5 star


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Lucretiawb - Stunning journey to courage5 star

This book brought the dust bowl to life, with all its horrors and miseries and horrific storms. And yet hope and love prevail. One very strong mother learns that fear can fuel courage to prevail .

Jdtractorgirl - Not my favorite3 star

Not my favorite. Story was rushed I felt.

Breannabaybbee - Incredibly written!5 star

I was every character of this book and I felt their feelings and went through this novel in every perspective. Couldn’t stop reading it!❤️

angiieek - The Four Winds5 star

I never realized how bad it was. Beautifully written. I remember hearing my grandmother tell what it was like to be an “Arkie”.

Jamigirl57 - Great story!5 star

Never give up is my take away from this book.

Trev T - Truly unputdownable!5 star

Written so beautifully, I could see, hear and taste every moment. One of my favorites of Kristin Hannah’s excellent novels.

stgoldb99 - Pleasure to read4 star

Very moving

camkel8 - Communist1 star

Boring, communist babble.

lemonpieces - Never read the book...1 star

Never read the book. Had it waiting in what I thought was my library. I spent $14.95 for nothing. I read her “ ...Nightingale.” book I wanted to read another. I bought it before completing the book I was already reading. Why they or who ever hacked the book, please allow me to read the book.

Igamitzu - A documentary disguised as a novel2 star

I wandered through 600 plus pages for even a hint of levity, of good cheer, of something positive and uplifting but none was to be found, only despair. I need to take a shower just to wash away the dust and grime.

Jdjd11jid - Don’t waste your time in this one!3 star

Least favorite book I have read of Kristen Hannah’s. I waited forever for this book to come out. It was so long and drawn out I found myself not even reading some pages. Terrible ending after all that u waited for to happen in the last 30 pages.

Btneu - You cheated me!1 star

I paid to read this book. You say I finished-////- I never started the book!!!!!!!!!

clearspring7 - Promising but ended with political agenda.3 star

The story of the dust bowl was what had me intrigued, but halfway through it turned political and did not end with any redeeming qualities IMO. Depressing from start to finish with nothing to gain but, Communism is the answer? 🤦🏼‍♀️

Queenofbigtime - Outstanding5 star

I have always been a warrior. Well, a survivor is the word that I used. I will change and use warrior now. This book is inspiring. The book also brings back memories of the times that I “fought” with my mother. I am so grateful for the time that I had with her to to talk, heal and love. She is with me everyday. Warrior.

savy1959 - The strength of a mother5 star

Beautifully written. Elsa’s pain, loss, strength, and courage are palpable to the reader. She defines the very essence of motherhood. This is a page-turner, simply could not put this book down.

Playingforfunshouldbe - Tedious and slow.2 star

This novel took forever to read. It could’ve been condensed by 2/3. Full of suffering and plight.

joematthews29 - A Touching Tribute4 star

For those of us who had parents and grandparents who lived through the depression, this book is a touching tribute to those warriors.

JA9010 - Unlike her other books2 star

This was a disappointing read. Her other books are so good, this one drug on and on and never seems to get anywhere .

WinefortheLC - Couldn’t put it down5 star

Had me from the start. The beginning was a bit slow but finally progressed. The obstacles of the time made me realize some perspectives I have not thought about. Historical portion was well done. So sad at the end.

Grandna Karen - Terrific5 star

Loved this book. Beautifully written.

Awake Annie - So thoughtful and thought provoking.5 star

Awful to think what we have been through at the hands of one another.

cawatergirl - Very depressing and disappointing1 star

It was not at all what I’m used to reading from her. The story dragged, very slow and depressing. There was nothing good or happy about this book.

Bruinswin11 - Excellent5 star

Some of you reviewers need a history lesson. Grapes of wrath anyone?! Although this book is not based on a true story it is based on true events from American history. I love all of her books, and I was starting to drift on this book but stuck it out and before I knew it I was lost in it. I found myself doing anything I could to get to bed early to read, listen in my car or on my headphones at work when I was supposed to be watching training videos 😂. I spent a good part of this book angry at how the citizens of California treated their fellow Americans & in real life it never really got better for them. It was shocking but Kristen Hannah found a way to spin truth with story and form an excellent story that could serve as a wake up call to how we judge and treat each other these days!

Jeanne C. - Story of hanged hearts5 star

The book started slow but then it became impossible to put it down. I’ve read 90% of Kristin Hannah’s book she is one of my very favorite authors. This one is the best of them all and describes the very hard times of the Great Depression in a very vivid way. It’s like the author really lived it herself. Thank you Kristin Hannah for another gem. It always takes me so long to find another book after such a chef d’œuvre

Joey19967412! - Loved this book!!!5 star

I loved the book and all of the history that was put into it. The accuracy of the book and the times that were hard for many’s is amazing

BullyMomx4 - Moving5 star

Hannah moves me to tears in this breathtakingly beautiful novel. Feeling the hardship and struggle of this time poignantly through the eyes of a mother-daughter relationship and drawing the courage to face our own unthinkable present, this novel is worth the read. Can’t wait to see where you transport us to next!

STompkins66 - Four Winds5 star

Loved this book. Have loved all her books. Story of bravery and strength, and most of all...a mother’s love for her children!

jamiemaymiller - Could not put it down5 star

I didn’t want this one to end!

Golf gal1 - Greatest Generation never quit!4 star

This book was great, and the author was amazing to mix her fiction with stories that occurred during that time. Very disturbing what those people went through. But they were American people who stood up and kept fighting for survival.

lolapeep - I loved this book!5 star

I haven’t loved a book like this in a long while. I cried... and still I was so sad when it ended. Really good read!

nurse nellie1 - Wow5 star

It wasn’t the typical love story. One of the best books I have read! Thank you

YayaNetski - Four Winds5 star

It’s a great book well written. I found it interesting and gave insight into into 1930s America , the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

Cutekidsmomma - Riveting!5 star

This book pulls you in and depicts the challenges of our country in a way only Kristin Hannah can!

Whitnayyyjo - I loved this book! 10 stars.5 star

I have not read a book in at least two years. I have been wanting to read and am so glad I picked this book. I could not put it down. Wonderfully written with so many lessons to take from these well written characters. I don’t know much about this author but I can’t wait to read more of her books.

Gigi8423 - The Four Winds2 star

I have read two of Kristin Hannah’s previous books and found her to be an extremely gifted writer. The Four Winds is also well written but a very depressing read until the end. Although I don’t know for certain, I suspect it is agenda driven since there are unmistakable parallels between the characters and illegal immigrants in this country today whom I suspect she supports strongly. Most disturbing is her apparent disdain for a capitalist economic system and embrace of Communism brought to life through some of her characters. As an obvious student of history, she is surely aware of the millions of people who have been oppressed and died under Communist regimes.

Barbie boo boo - The Four Winds5 star

Another astonishing work by Kristen Hannah. Every woman faced with diversity should learn that strength and endurance can impact families lives. We can all become warriors with compassion and grit. Barbara

Readingbythesea - The Four Winds5 star

Loved the story. You can envision the suffering, and feel the love Elsa had. KH never lets the reader down, thank you.

Captb711 - The Four Winds1 star

Can I leave zero stars? I have read Hannah’s last three books. The Four Winds started out strongly, and then quickly devolved into communist/socialist drivel with no aim or point. Just like The Great Alone, this book starts with a very strong premise, but the middle and end are rushed; and do not provide the necessary emotional reward to the emotional investment that the beginning requires.

emilylovesy0u - Another Winner!5 star

Kristen Hannah never fails! This is a must-read! I literally finished the book and said “no!” because I wasn’t ready for the story to end... Shes an amazing author - her descriptions of time and place truly bring her tales to life. A great story!

Kittiefan - Beautiful, sad, enlightening5 star

I had no idea this happened in this era. To say that I was surprised would be a lie, but I am deeply saddened at these events and how cruel people can be. I love Kristin Hannah‘s books, and this is just one more to add to my list of favorite reads.

Nfmike - The Four Winds4 star

Excellent story! I was transported to the farm and the fields. I lived life as “an Okie” through Elsa, Jean and Loreda. The ending was a bit disappointing.

Jkdcmd - Sadly shallow2 star

While the underlying story was interesting, the character development was wanting. The constant description of Elsa’s lack of self worth was beyond tiresome. I have read several of the author’s earlier books. This one simply was not to the same standard.

julie lois - Such a powerful story. So well written5 star

The details in the book make you feel like you’re there. So much history and hardship in this book.

Bdude24 - Predictable and flat characterization2 star

Found this to be a flat read. Other authors have done much better with the subject matter.

cft1346 - 10/10!!5 star

So emotional and empowering. Everyone should read this book!

GoingOn - Boring2 star

I love her other books, but couldn’t finish this boring book. Blah blah blah for pages and pages

chuckleedee - Dust Bowl5 star

It is so important to read about how strong the human spirit is. It reminds and encourages us that we too, can be strong in the face of adversity. 2020 was horrible year for so many Americans, and it isn’t over.

bonda13 - Courage5 star

I’m very tired but I couldn’t stop to read it. It reminded me the time I came to America and made me think about today , the virus time. I loved the way the book is written , touching my heart . I have to admit I cried. In the straggle of women I sow myself. Well done! Thanks

Mom is on it! - Incredible5 star

As always, an incredible read! The history is brought to life and the story engulfs your soul. My grandparents told very few stories of their time on the plains during the Dust Storms or of the Great Depression. They didn’t complain they just fought through. This book brought life to their struggle and the struggle of so many. Bravo!

Finicky Reader - It’s a grabber!5 star

Powerful and beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down.

Kristin Hannah - The Four Winds Comments

About Kristin Hannah Wiki

Kristin Hannah (born September 25, 1960) is an American writer. Her most notable works include Winter Garden, The Nightingale, Firefly Lane, The Great Alone, and The Four Winds. Biography Kristin Hannah was born in California. After she graduated with a degree in communication from the University of Washington, she worked at an advertising agency in Seattle. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound law school and practiced law in Seattle before becoming a full-time writer. Hannah wrote her first novel with her mother, who was dying of cancer at the time; the book was never published.Hannah's best-selling work is The Nightingale, which has sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide and...

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