Updated: Dec 3, 2021
The Four Winds is a novel by Kirsten Hannah. It is a is a tale of hope, desperation and grinding, relentless poverty that was unleashed on Americans by the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The story focuses on the farmers of Texas. We learn how ecological disasters and climate change stripped these proud, independent people of their dignity and livelihood so that the only choice they really had was to die on the land or seek opportunity in the mythical land of plenty in California. They farmers believed that America was the land of the free and home of the brave only to have their expectations dashed repeatedly.
The saga unfolds through the lens of Elsa Martinelli, the story's unlikely heroine, and her family. The tension between Elsa, hard-working resilient, and Long-suffering, and Laredo, her passionate, rebellious daughter is particularly moving.
We learn of the appalling conditions that these people endured during the ravages of dust storms, rains, and drought. Life was no easier in California where the majority of the farmers became de-facto indentured serfs. We learn how the workers are bullied and manipulated by the government, big business and were called Oakies and considered worthless scum by the local residents of California.
This is a book of our time and it has a great deal of resonance for us today and the character traits that we need to create a more inspiring future for ourselves and our planet.