Wow. Just wow. One of the most powerful books I’ve read. Maybe ever.
The women who populate The Four Winds are warriors, every one–struggling to keep themselves and their children alive in the hardest of times–the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The weaker sex? Not these women. Shunned by their own families. Abandoned by husbands. Driven off their own land. Starved and sickened by drought and dust.
Still, as I often do when I read history or historical fiction, I hear echoes of the past in our present. Nearly one hundred years later, injustice, prejudice, poverty, and yes, even climate change remain with us.
I’ve read most of Kristin Hannah’s books and am continually in awe of her ability to get readers inside the characters and make us feel what they feel. Sharing a few examples here.
- “Courage is fear you ignore.”
- “That was the first time her grandfather had leaned down and whispered, ‘Be brave, into her ear…Or pretend to be. It’s all the same.’”
- “Fear is smart until…Until you realize you’re afraid of the wrong thing.”
- “I say folks who hang on to the past miss their chance for a future.”
- “Think about the women who fought for the vote. They had to be scared, too, but they marched for change, even if it meant going to jail. And now we can vote. Sometimes the end is worth any sacrifice.”
- “How can we call ourselves the land of the free when people are living on the streets and dying of hunger?”
- “When times is tough and jobs is scarce, folks blame the outsider. It’s human nature.”
- “Poverty was a soul-crushing thing. A cave that tightened around you, its pinprick of light closing a little more at the end of each desperate, unchanged day.”
On love and family
- “Although she hadn’t seen her parents for years, it turned out that a parent’s disapproval was a powerful, lingering voice that shaped and defined one’s self-image.”
- “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.”
- “You are of me, Loreda, in a way that can never be broken. You taught me love. You, first in the whole world, and my love for you will outlive me.”
- “Remember, cara, hard times don’t last. Land and family do.”
I listened to the beautifully rendered Audible version (read by Julia Whelan) as I recovered from cataract surgeries last month. Warning: you may need a hanky or two, but this book is so very worth your tears because the women I got to know demonstrated courage, strength, devotion, compassion, sacrifice, and most of all, love. And I think we could all use a little more of that. Recommend.