When terrible droughts plagued the Great Plains, the soil became dust and blew across the Plains as dust storms, or “black blizzards.” Many people were forced to leave their homes and travel west, where they were treated as an unwelcome pestilence by many of the locals and exploited by the landowners as cheap labor. Fortunately, the government finally convinced farmers in the Great Plains to use new farming techniques that did not strip the land bare, but many of the Dust Bowl refugees were never able to return to their previous farms.
Kristin Hannah’s new book, The Four Winds, offers a glimpse into the lives of one Texas family as they struggle to remain alive during the Dust Bowl.
In the 1930s, Elsa is unloved and unappreciated by her family. When she meets sweet talking Rafe Martinelli, she welcomes the affection he gives her. As the encounter results in a pregnancy, Elsa’s father deposits her on the Martinelli family’s doorstep. After a shotgun marriage, the Martinellis grow to love Elsa and she finds the family she always wanted. The Dust Bowl hits her family farm hard in 1934, and Elsa must do whatever she can for her two children as they are forced to migrate to California to find some way of making a living. Elsa finds a strength she never knew she possessed.
Kristin Hannah has written another excellent book. I was captivated by Elsa and her struggles immediately. As her character grows and adapts, I was stuck by Elsa’s resilience. All of the characters are well constructed. The imagery and the story telling are top notch and it was fascinating to read a book about the Dust Bowl partially set in Texas. Hannah’s book is well researched and the time period is well depicted. The way the Dust Bowl refugees are treated is brutally realistic. The book was heart breaking and heartwarming. I love reading about strong women, and the women in the book are all fierce survivors. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical novels.