Wow! “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah is an excellent book. It is a historical fiction about the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the migrant workers who went to California in search of a new way of life, but it is so important and relevant to our history today and the numerous challenges we are facing right now.
“A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me.”Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds
This isn’t the first book of Kristin Hannah’s that I’ve read and it won’t be the last. Her character development is superb. The way she crafts the people in her story coupled with her storytelling of their lives you come to feel deeply for these characters and the struggles they face. It was a horrifying time in American history. Families on the Great Plains facing the strain of the Great Depression and the Market Crash of 1929 and then a lengthy drought leads to winds that literally take the topsoil on their farms away with it leaving their land dry and worthless. Over the course of a few years, their livelihood is completely taken away from them and all that everyone is hearing is there are jobs in California and Oregon and Washington. The government who tries to help the Great Plains farmers tell these people that have spent their entire lives growing crops to feed their families that it is their fault, their farming practices that have ruined the land.
More than 300,000 people went West and arrived in California with no money and all their worldly possessions in their trucks and wagons. These migrant Americans are seen as the other, vagrants carrying disease, poor and destitute, freeloaders looking to take the jobs of native Californians. They are denied access to schools and hospitals and libraries. The big growers and the government unite to keep wages low and oppress these migrant Americans looking to fill the bellies of their children.
It was interesting to see the story told through the eyes of a single mother with two kids at that time in history. In our day, we see similar struggles, differing opinions about immigration, social justice movements like Black Lives Matter, rampant unemployment, climate change, all of these issues of today coming back around full circle in a way similar to the days of the Great Depression.
Like all of Ms. Hannah’s novels, the book is well-researched and she clearly re-tells us a story from our history of the past, as a reminder and warning of what was and guides us to the right path to do things different this time.
“The four winds have blown us here, people from all across the country, to the very edge of this great land, and now, at last, we make our stand, fight for what we know to be right. We fight for our American dream, that it will be possible again.”Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds