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Loved this book. My grandmother would talk about the great depression when I was a child, and while she did not experience the Dust Bowl, she did talk about how relatives from town would visit her family farm and how they were all "so hungry" and suffered from the great depression, so reading about the struggles and the details of the characters made me feel as if I could finally identify with some of the struggles my grandmother experienced as a girl growing up in the depression. The story was a quick read for me, I finished it in two days, could not put it down. Loved the struggle for the American Dream and trying to overcome obstacles and hardships while keeping your family together.
I was so disappointed in this "best seller" book. I thought it was just another dreary story of the Dust Bowl that could have been written in 200 pages or less. Good author but disappointing read.
Very good book. Sad ending, but real. Elsa was always a sickly child and therefore was brought up as that, not pretty, very low self esteem. She has a quick relationship with Rafe and they have to get married since she is pregnant. She is disowned by her family and lives with Rafe's family on a farm. Loreda and Anthony are her children from Rafe. Tony and Rose her In-laws love her. The dust bowl happens and he wants to leave. He has all sorts of dreams and extends those dreams to Loreda. When things get really bad, Rafe ups and leaves to CA where it's supposed to be a better life. Loreda blames Elsa for his leaving. She continues to be belligerent against her mom although there was love when she was young. Elsa has a hard time sharing her emotions, even to Rafe because of her insecurities. Ant (Anthony) gets really sick - dust pneumonia and in order to get better they have to leave. But, In-laws do not want to leave the land. The Depression is really bad and the dust storms are horrendous. They are saying that farmers need to change the way they are farming - that they killed the land by the way they farmed. So, the In-Laws were trying remedy that while Elsa was gone to CA. Elsa makes a decision to leave. They have the car filled with gas and they go. They end up in a campsite with other "Oakies" although they're from Texas. Californians do not like these people coming in. They forage for work - cotton picking, peach one season, cleaning houses for 40 -50 cents a day for 10 hrs. of work. They live in unhealthy conditions. When they move in to Welty's row of houses everything is pay be credit - there is never a chance to get out of debt. They are eventually evicted because they hear that they are in cahoots to strike The air is tense at campLoreda doesn't like the fairness but Elsa keeps telling her we at least have work. They meet Jack Valen, a Communist and wants to change the way the workers are paid and treated. The big companies have all the power and are taking advantage of these workers. Elsa continues to resist but Loreda wants to join this group. Elsa continues to see this unfairness and there are meetings to get people together to strike - sit down on the cotton fields. She finally agrees and falls in love with Jack. He treats her like he really loves her. She stands up to the owner, Welty, when Jack is assaulted by his men. She is shot and when taken to the hospital they find that the wound is too bad and her heart is too weak. She will die, but to her, for a good cause. Loreda steals money from Welty- from the store, as she is dressed like a boy so she can take Elsa back home to be buried. At the end, Loreda will go to college and be the first Martinelli to go to college. She regrets having not told her mother how much she loved her and how proud she was of her. On her headstone reads Mother, Daughter. Warrior. Roosevelt in his chat to nation talks about how hard these folks worked to keep their land, their self-reliance, their tenacity, and their courage. Elsa never wanted to take any money from the government until she really needed to. She felt there were other people who needed it more than she, but when times got
really bad she did get some help after a year as resident of CA. Then, they cut her off (Welty) because they said if you can work, you don't need money. He cut their wages many times by 10% and had to pay 10% interest when cashing in their paycheck.
A very angst riddled book. It was hard to slug through in that the hardship the characters went through was so depressing. There is too much in my life that I can't control that makes me sad so may not be able to finish this.
I thoroughly liked this book. I had to read it to the end to see the outcome of Elsa’s heroism.
This was awful. Watch the PBS documentary about the dustbowl and the hardship. Much broader in scope and more interesting. I am done reading Kristin Hannah.
This novel provides a haunting portrait of the Great Depression/Dust Bowl era from a female perspective. It is beautifully written and, while Elsa Martinelli and her family go through much hardship and despair, the story is ultimately uplifting at the same time.
I am a Kristin Hannah fan, however, The Nightingale remains the high bar.
I had high hopes for this book given its context of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, along with the writing style of Hannah. However, overall this book was too dramatic and over-the-top and at the end really reeked more of a manifesto than a moving drama.
Toward the beginning of the book, I felt for Elsa and her ability to adapt when forced to move to the farm. However, as Dust Bowl conditions worsened...and worsened...and worsened... and...
and her husband and later her daughter pleaded with her to move, her denial and self doubts became beyond the pale. I don't think it would've taken a near death for most people in that situation to finally accept moving, after all the incredible amount of devastation the family endured just to get to that point.
Then, during the last quarter of the book, I felt like this story became a communist manifesto, and I say that as someone who is left-leaning in her beliefs. Look, I get that Big Farms and the government conspired against migrants, I even get that a strike was necessary, but the plot points lining up like little soldiers, more devastation and indignity after another, to lead the reader to be sympathetic and conclude that movement was the only answer was truly over the top. It read like a left version of Ayn Rand. There was a way to include those elements from a more objective plot point/narration that wouldn't have that insinuation, but I think Hannah wanted it that way, which is disappointing. Moreso that in the end, that whole part of that story was then used as a means for Elsa to "find her voice." Speaking of which, Elsa was just very tiresome. It had to take death or near death for her to act or find her voice throughout this story, every time the family was in dire straits.
This book was well researched, the story, despite its shortcomings, compelling, but ultimately, disappointing. I gave it three stars due to the quality of the writing (flow, descriptions, editing) and its compelling nature.
I was not expecting such an incredibly sad book from Kristin Hannah but there it is. Not far into the book sadness began to use from every page. Elsa began life as a child feeling unloved by her family. This is followed by a marriage of convenience in which Elsa fervently loves her husband; he, however, never learns to love her. Add two children, her in-laws, and the 1930s dust bowl. There you have it: the basis of Kristin Hannah’s novel.
Well written saga of the dust bowl days and a family attempting to survive. I could not help but think of the Grapes of Wrath and Henry Fonda's speech about the hopes of abandoning home for a new life in California. Tom Joad laments: I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look—wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build, I'll be there, too. Although I was familiar with this journey of hope idea for the "Okies", I did not realized that these desperate people were hated by the Californians. Timely message about immigration of today. Highly recommend this book!! Kristi & Abby Tabby
This was a hard book..........not gonna lie. Not a lot of feel good here! But very emotional, thought provoking, well written KH book!
This is the first of Kristin Hannah's books I couldn't finish it was too depressing for me... It went from sadness to sadness nothing happy..... too much misery for me and at this time in our Country I am wonder if history will be repeated !!!!! I am old enough to remember the Depression survivors stories 1937 when I was born the War is what brought about the recovery not the government programs
I thought the writing was flat. I could skim and read about one sentence per ten pages and follow the story.
looking for a good story which this is not too political what a disappointment
I found all the low ratings and comments about how depressing this book is to be somewhat amazing. If it had a fairy tale ending (oh but it did-will not spoil it but trust me) it would have not portrayed the plight of so many Americans during this dark period in history truthfully. Kristin Hannah is a gifted writer and I have loved all of her work that I have read.
a really fantastic book-contains lots of emotion, struggles and tribulations, outlined in the theme of the book of the Great Depression times. It kept me reading non stop, as all of her books do. Wonderful language and description used, and the book brings to light the unfairness of others towards others who are people also, involved in hard times due to no fault of their own. A must read for sure!!!
"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 had done another wonderful job at storytelling with her novel, The Four Winds. This woman can cut to the soul of me and make me weep so hard. This novel is so rich in storytelling, characters, dreams, hopes, and despair. Kristin does such a fantastic job of making them more than characters, they are the backbone of our ancestors. Ancestors that came here with hopes and dreams. Not just dreams, but the American dream. But at the core of this novel, it is about a mother and her unconditional love for her family. As a mother myself, I can't begin to imagine the sacrifice that Elsa went through. I was literally wiping my tears at the last 20 pages. This novel is not only a great representation of the rich history America had gone through, but it is an accurate representation of courage, strength, and the power of a families love
Really disappointed with this book, since I liked another of hers. Turns out this book is not about relationships, not how a marriage falls apart or how a person can build a life. It devolves into a book-long political lecture.
Woman badly mistreated by her family because she is not as pretty. She falls in love with the first man who gives her attention. ( she forgot how babies are made) No real explanation why he did not extend any effort at all to build a life.
Not much good description of the dust bowl, the 1930's depression or how people coped.
Just a lecture telling us that the only way to solve problems is to revolt, fight and demand socialism
I am so tired of the of ALL the media reviewers heaping praise on only the books with a certain political agenda. This book was plain boring. The main character was not likable in the least.
Books are now recommended for political reasons, ignoring story plot or characters.
I'm going to come right out and say it - yes, this novel was depressing, and I cried at the end. But, knowing that it was set in during the Dust Bowl, the depression, and other hard times, it kind of has to be depressing. Plus, it gives one a real taste of what it must have been like for those poor souls that lived through it. The drought, the dust, the depression, where you took any job you could get, and still survived on grit alone.
I was skeptical that this would be a good book simply because The Nightingale and The Great Alone were so good and I just didn't think Kristin Hannah or any author could come up with a third winner. But she did! She brought to life the incredible story of a family desperate to survive in cruel times brought on by both nature and heartless, inhumane people. The Dust Bowl era was one of unrelenting drought that left farmers helpless. Often drawing parallels to the cruelty in slavery and Nazi Germany it can be heart wrenching what these people had to endure.
Elsa is a fierce woman and the ultimate mother who never gives up, sacrificing everything for her son and daughter.
enjoyed this book until it got political half way thru. with everything going on reading a kristin hannah book was the last place i thought politics would be involved and was really wanting to read a novel to get away from that kind of crap. tired of celebrities and sports ruining entertainment with their political opinions. this will probably be the last book of hers that i read, not a fan anymore!!!
Well, Kristin Hannah did it again. She tore my heart out and made me fall in love with her characters during yet another devastating moment in history. The reviews are accurate when they say this book is depressing. You definitely have to be prepared/in the mood for a difficult read. For me, even though this read was painful, I loved it for how impactful it was in its eye-opening honesty. I always finish her books wondering how I can be a better person.⠀
I wish I would have read the comments before I picked up this book. Two chapters in and I was ready to kill myself. And that was BEFORE the Dust Bowl and the Depression. I have read other books by this author so was looking forward to it but No Thank You.
Extremely depressing book. If I could have stopped and put it down, I would have. I kept thinking it would get better. It doesn’t. Very disappointed after being on wait list for months. Author has a notation about Covid in book, I believe it has affected her outlook.
Well written, but so, so depressing. After getting about halfway through it, I flipped to the last chapters and it got more depressing -- didn't think it possible. Don't know if Covid-19 has had an effect or not. Very disappointed.