Reading a book about the Dust Bowl during this summer of rain-rain-rain didn't interest me at first. I kept moving it down my TBR pile for lightweight summer reads. The farmers in my neck of the country are battling drowned crops, COVID is ever-circling like a shark, and I wanted to ingest easy uplifting reads. Finally, at the urging of other readers, I took it with me to the beach. I could hardly put it down. I loved The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. I had no trouble empathizing with the people whose lives were forever changed when the climate turned against an entire section of the country.
The book starts in 1921 when life is bountiful for most in the Texas Panhandle. Not for Elsa Wolcott, she's an old-maid at twenty-five, a pitiable condition in her wealthy family. Elsa's love of reading and desperation to really live despite her old age lead her to make choices that wind up changing her life forever. Then the drought comes, and The Depression.
What worked for me most with this book was Elsa's inner strength, and the inner strength of some people when life throws only obstacles at them. Some people are survivors. Some are not. I'd not realized just how awful times were for people living in certain parts of the country. Almost every step of this book mirrors things happening in our world right now. It's a masterful novel.
I've heard readers pooh-pooh reading this because they've already read Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Don't be deceived by the setting. This is a woman's story about family and survival. It's a story about love, not the overdone romantic kind. There's a far more important fierce familial love when life is at it's desperate worst.
This story reminded me that it's a lucky luxury to have water, shelter, and food. It reminded me that not everybody is that lucky through absolutely no fault of their own. It's a good reminder. I highly recommend this book. I'd give it all the stars.
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