Select language, opens an overlay
The Four Winds

The Four Winds

eBook - 2021
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
A Depression-era woman confronts a wrenching choice between fighting for the Dust Bowl-ravaged land she loves in Texas or pursuing an uncertain future in California. By the best-selling author of The Nightingale. 1.5 million first printing. Illustrations.

Macmillan School


"The Four Winds seems eerily prescient in 2021 . . . Its message is galvanizing and hopeful: We are a nation of scrappy survivors. We’ve been in dire straits before; we will be again. Hold your people close.”—The New York Times

"A spectacular tour de force that shines a spotlight on the indispensable but often overlooked role of Greatest Generation women."—People

"Through one woman’s survival during the harsh and haunting Dust Bowl, master storyteller, Kristin Hannah, reminds us that the human heart and our Earth are as tough, yet as fragile, as a change in the wind."
Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing

From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Publisher: St Martins Press,, 2021
ISBN: 9781250178626
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Baker & Taylor Axis 360
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks

Related Resources


From Library Staff

Eerily resonant during the COVID-19 pandemic, this story set during the Great Depression is a testament to women's resilience.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 13, 2021

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.

Jun 13, 2021

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.

Jun 11, 2021

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.

Jun 09, 2021

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.

Jun 08, 2021

I thoroughly liked this book. I had to read it to the end to see the outcome of Elsa’s heroism.

Jun 07, 2021

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.

bocalibrary_Marcella Jun 04, 2021

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.

Jun 03, 2021

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.

Jun 02, 2021

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.

May 26, 2021

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

View All Comments


Add a Quote
May 27, 2021

Depression Era Dust Bowl in Texas. Leave farm for California. leaving in-laws behind on farm. Horrible working conditions for migrant workers.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at SMCL

To Top