Okay so straight up, I do not feel that my review will do this excellent book justice, so if you have read this book don’t judge me too harshly.
This is the fifth Kristin Hannah book I have read, so I guess you could call me a fan. This is possibly my favourite of all her books; though it might be in joint first position with “The Great Alone” which is probably equally as good.
It is going to be difficult to review this book without giving too much of the story away, so I will do my best not to include any or many spoilers. The first thing to say is that if you have read “The Grapes of Wrath”, which is also an excellent book, you will see a lot of parrallels in the story; but where it differs is that the Grapes of Wrath focusses on the journey to and the migration to California during the Great Depression. What it touches on but does not focus on, but what the Four Winds does really exemplify are the struggles of farmers living on the great plains during the 4 year drought during the Great Depression – known as the dust bowl. The authors’ description during a dust storm is so evocative and visceral that you almost taste the dust in your mouth as you read. Hannah’s research was impeccable, because the caterpillars crawling through the cracks in the doors; and the birds flying blindly and crashing into the house and the brown milk from the cows just all create a picture of such devastation. How these poor people survived the long drought and the dust storms and the dust pneumonia is beyond me.
The second half of the book follows the family as they travel west in search of work and a new life life in California. What a difficult time they had, how they are treated is more shocking than I can explain. I find it hard to understand how a country (even America) can treat their fellow Americans so badly, just because they were from another state – migrants, Okie’s (even though they were not from Oklahoma). I was also shocked by how little money the pickers were paid, it was basically slavery – not even enough to buy enough food to survive on, let alone anything else like clothing or a roof over their heads.
I won’t give any more away, just read and find out for yourself. Even though it was difficult to read, I felt that I grew and learned something from this book; I was completely ignorant to this piece of American history.
If you enjoyed this book you may want to try The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, or if you would like to try another Kristin Hannah I can highly recommend “The Great Alone.”