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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- Wonderful In Spite Of5 star

Terrific book thar brings the reader face to face with problems and prejudices in our American history that often repeat themselves. The story line could have been just as effective, however, without the communist leanings and references.

- Excellent introduction to dust bowl history4 star

Good writing with a powerful feminist plot. It is a page turner and a reminder about forgotten aspects of US history.

- Great story5 star

Loved it! Heart wrenching, but I couldn’t put it down!

- Fantastic book5 star

Honestly I’m so confused with all the reviews that are complaining because this is a sad story. It’s a book set during the Great Depression and Dust Bowel, what do you expect? Sad stories, in my opinion, can be some of the most compelling. I thought this book was great and brought tears to my eyes throughout. I highly recommend you give this book a try!

- Great storyline .3 star

Too many words. Too long. Drags in places.

- Get the tissues ready5 star

I would like to take a moment to thank Kristin Hannah for ALWAYS MAKING ME UGLY CRY. This book pulled me in from the very first page. I’m from Oklahoma but some of the things that happened during this period is too much for school books, so I never thoroughly learned about the depth of the horror that these families went through. I experienced so many emotions throughout reading and absolutely adored the characters. I would love a sequel! I definitely recommend this one, but get the tissues ready.

- Outstanding slice of American History5 star

You can taste the Dust- Excellently depicts the dust bowl era & the struggles of the times. More importantly, it details a mother’s love & sacrifice for her children, beautifully & heart wrenchingly describing the motherhood bond.

- Four Winds3 star

Ive read all your books but this one is to depressing. Could hardly wait for it to end.

- The Four Winds5 star

This was a fantastic book!

- Fitting4 star

While I did enjoy this book, it was thoroughly depressing, which is fitting for a book about The Great Depression. I kept reading and waiting for something good to happen and it did not come. The ending was a little unsatisfying but all in all, a well written book.

- Beautiful Story5 star

Beautiful story..terribly sad but triumphant at the same time. I love story and many different types of love but all love nonetheless.

- An amazing story of hope, strength and courage!5 star

Remarkable story!

- Loved this book and learning about the history of The Great Plains and droughts of 1930’s. effected5 star

Perseverance of people held me steady and hopeful in our human nature through any crisis!

- Can't stop crying!5 star

Had no idea the ending would touch me so much. Great read.

- Four winds5 star

Great read! Really puts everything into perspective. Especially in today’s times.

- A great read!5 star

I could hardly put the book down. Made me feel as if I was in it. I highly recommend it!

- Basically Grapes of Wrath4 star

Story is very similar to Grapes of Wrath. Wonderful read nonetheless

- Wow5 star

Beautiful and moving

- Wonderful5 star

Never knew about this chapter of American history. What a wonderful story of courage and perseverance!

- Great story4 star

I could feel the grit in my eyes and wonder how they made it through even one day of those storms.

- Fantastic5 star


- 5/55 star

Kristen Hannah does it again. This is a must read! I highly recommend The Great Alone & The Nightingale also.

- Excellent read for any mother5 star

The first book I have read in years. Soup for the soul and grounded in real hardships yet wrapped in love.

- The four winds guide us5 star

The historical truths in this wonderful story about fortitude are timeless and fundamentally human. Elsa is each of us.

- Heart-breaking yet inspiring5 star

This is a true American tale of resilience through terrible times. As always, this author does not disappoint.

- So disappointed1 star

I am half way through the book and could summarize what happened in three depressing pages. I feel like I need to read the book because I paid for it, but it is a chore and a drag. So disappointing, save the money & time and pick another.

- Love, courage, and fmaily5 star

An amazing book, filled with twists and turns. You will learn a great about the Depression and what it means to be a family.

- Four Winds5 star

Excellent book. Could not put it down. The history of on going bias in this country and the cruelty to people always astounds me. The description of the dust storm made me feel like I was right there with them. No happy endings here.

- Excellent historic fiction5 star

Once again Hannah's in creates a beautiful story of mothers and daughters. In the backdrop of a horrific time in American history, she captures the horror of the time and the resilience of a mothers love and fierce strength that mothers have. I can't stop reading this author. Her research of the dust bowl period was eye opening to me. I have bought her books for family and friends, too. Highly recommend this book and her others.

- 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

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lfonagy - Amazing!5 star

Wonderfully written with rich colorful characters. Gripping novel that shows the horrors of the great depression and the poverty that ensued from American greed. Another great novel by Kristin Hannah.

NicolefromCanada - Another Wonderful Novel5 star

Thank you for another wonderful novel!! I couldn’t put this down and I was sad when I was nearing the end. Can’t wait for another!

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cestmoi7 - Excellent Read5 star

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

Tree Womyn - Be brave5 star

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

oysterlady - 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

Susi0614 - Beautiful5 star

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

monikarp - Wow...The Four Winds5 star

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

this_girl_Les - 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.

tomssoulmate - 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.

Keep Walking! - 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!

AlSwasho - Sad and lovely5 star

Not an easy read but worth it

Caddomike - You won’t regret it.5 star

Couldn’t put it down. Spectacular!

1926-2018 - 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.

Sir Shamus - 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.

Lettie55 - 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.

jerryw70 - Great5 star

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

kbrom422 - 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.

twofreebirds - The Four Winds5 star

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

Hokey lover - Speechless5 star

Simply moving!

ibeeflower - 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.

merribel - Excellent Read5 star

I enjoyed this book,and the story was sadly beautiful

JTullett - 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.

SWAppReviews - Depressing and monotonous.2 star

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

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

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

BernedBefore - 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!’

Oliviachudy - Horrible1 star

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

Ksgram - A Powerful Story of Love5 star

A powerful story of love in the hard times.

zoesampoochie - 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.

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

It’s sad and beautiful at the same time.

Brunetta4u - 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!

Eeegarcia - Great book!5 star


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.

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 graduating 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 ha...

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