Top Shelf: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
The Four Winds is a riveting and harrowing story that is sure to be a classic. Set in the 1930s during the Great Depression, it's a family saga during the Dust Bowl that depicts the consequences of an era riddled with hardship, poverty and self-reliance.
The main character, Elsa, is a mother, daughter and survivor. Since she was a young girl, her life has been marked with abandonment. While poverty and desperation envelop the country, particularly where she lives in the Great Plains, Elsa's will to protect her family cannot be stopped by dust storms, death and destruction.
Hannah masterfully tells this story with vivid descriptions of the suffering and unthinkable living conditions. She paints a portrait of America during the Great Depression, however, she brings to life the story within that American story - the devastation of the Dust Bowl.
While the setting and backdrop are key components of the plot, the characters move the story along. They are inspiring, infuriating, selfish and resilient. In short, they are realistic -- well-developed and dynamic.
I reside in the Southern Plains. The story of the Dust Bowl is well-known in this part of the country. Many people in this region have family who migrated West to flee the the horrid living conditions of drought, wind and dust. I think it's important that all Americans appreciate the resolve and strength of those who suffered mightily during one of American's darkest times. Along with The Grapes of Wrath and Out of the Dust, The Four Winds will have an impact on future generation's understanding of this era.
I highly recommend this masterpiece. The book is hard to put down. The storytelling is incredible, but it also touches on relevant topics, such as poverty, discrimination, government oversight and organized labor. By most standards, this isn't an uplifting book, but it's a story that needs to be told. After finishing it, I better appreciated the notion that humans have the capacity to survive even in the worst of times.
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