Momma Leighellen's Book Review
“Land was something that anchored a person, gave one a life. The idea of it, finding a good life and a place to belong, seduced her as nothing ever had.” – Four Winds, Kristin Hannah
Oh, friends. I’m so glad I chose this for #mommaleighellensbookclub February pick. This devastating story made ache, but it left me wanting more in some places. Between a few minor plot issues and a couple of twists that make you go “HMMMM”, it was a great choice for discussion. We didn’t all have the same experience reading this one, which is why I love a book like this to chew on and think about.
“a life, not merely an existence. That was her dream: a life where she uncovered strengths heretofore unknown.”
Four Winds Overview
This story of the Dust Storm and living conditions during the Great Depression follows the story of a woman named Elsa. We meet her as a sheltered, sickly young girl and follow her through marriage, childbirth, and adulthood. Her life wasn’t easy from the start. Born into a family where love was tightly withheld and suffering from the repercussions of rheumatic fever as a child, she was often harshly judged and seemingly misunderstood (and possibly even misdiagnosed?).
“a parent’s disapproval was a powerful, lingering voice that shaped and defined one’s self-image.”
These early disappointments shape her into the woman she becomes. When she finally breaks free and begins to settle into a new life and routine, with marriage and children and a home…more hardships arrive. She tries her best to be strong for her children, but the relentless dust, lack of money, and lack of food drives her to a decision that changes the rest of their lives.
“she would do anything, suffer anything, to be loved.”
This is a beautifully written albeit heartbreaking story of suffering, hard labor, and desperation, during an awful time in our nation’s history. I think there were a few small things that felt a bit off and kept this from being an A+ in my book.
First of all, there’s a big time skip from her marriage to having two children. A lot shapes a women in pregnancy and childbirth. I would have loved more on Elsa’s growth during those years. Secondly, the pacing was a little off. The story starts really strong and pulls you in. I was fully invested in her early life and marriage.
But the second half slows down considerably and is at times monotonous. Then there is a quick added romance and a rushed ending that drops you off a cliff of heartbreak. Finally, the storyline at the end felt a tad preachy at times as communism and worker’s rights are discussed. It’s probably just this sensitive year but the politics felt pushed instead of historical.
That didn’t stop me from loving this one. Let’s face it, it’s Kristin Hannah and she’s a gem of an author. I always fall in love with her characters and she always, ALWAYS breaks my heart. This is no exception. The ending CRUSHED ME. I was not prepared.
Overall, The Four Winds is a unique look at a time period I didn’t know much about and highly worth the read. We all enjoyed discussing what we wished the author would have included or what we felt she could have taken out. And there were opinions on both sides, which to me, makes for a great read.
This is a stunning story of one woman’s love and devotion to her children. Simply powerful.
“You are of me, in a way that can never be broken. You taught me love. My love will outlive me. Love remains when everything else is gone”
Be prepared to be gutted and exhausted by the end of this book!