I have noted that I am trying to read more books that deal with events in American history. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of The Road to Delano by John DeSimone at no charge for my honest review.
About The Road to Delano:
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Rare Bird Books (March 10, 2020)
Jack Duncan is a high school senior whose dream is to play baseball in college and beyond as far away from Delano as possible. He longs to escape the political turmoil surrounding the labor struggles of the striking fieldworkers that infests his small ag town. Ever since his father, a grape grower, died under suspicious circumstances ten years earlier, he’s had to be the sole emotional support of his mother, who has kept secrets from him about his father’s involvement in the ongoing labor strife.
With their property on the verge of a tax sale, Jack drives an old combine into town to sell it so he and his mother don’t become homeless. On the road, an old friend of his father’s shows up and hands him the police report indicating Jack’s father was murdered. Jack is compelled to dig deep to discover the entire truth, which throws him into the heart of the corruption endemic in the Central Valley. Everything he has dreamed of is at stake if he can’t control his impulse for revenge.
While Jack’s girlfriend, the intelligent and articulate Ella, warns him not to so anything to jeopardize their plans of moving to L.A., after graduation, Jack turns to his best friend, Adrian, a star player on the team, to help to save his mother’s land. When Jack’s efforts to rescue a stolen piece of farm equipment leaves Adrian?the son of a boycotting fieldworker who works closely with Cesar Chavez?in a catastrophic situation, Jack must bail his friend out of his dilemma before it ruins his future prospects. Jack uses his wits, his acumen at card playing, and his boldness to raise the money to spring his friend, who has been transformed by his jail experience.
The Road to Delano is the path Jack, Ella, and Adrian must take to find their strength, their duty, their destiny.
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About the Author
John DeSimone is a published writer, novelist, and teacher. He’s been an adjunct professor and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. His recent co-authored books include Broken Circle: A Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan (Little A Publishers), and Courage to Say No by Dr. Raana Mahmood, about her struggles against sexual exploitation as a female physician in Karachi. His published novel Leonardo’s Chair published in 2005.
In 2012, he won a prestigious Norman Mailer Fellowship to complete his most recent historical novel, Road to Delano. His novels Leonardo’s Chair and No Ordinary Man have received critical recognition.
He works with select clients to write stories of inspiration and determination and with those who have a vital message to bring to the marketplace of ideas in well-written books.
The Road to Delano is many things but most of all it’s the story of a young man who thinks he knows how his life is going to play out only to learn that things aren’t always as they appear. The book starts with the story of a card playing man from New England who decides he has to get out of his small town and he gambles his way to California. There he wins enough to buy a spread. He meets a woman, builds a house and they have a son. He has promised to give up his gambling but as he notes, any farmer is a gambling man.
The star of the book is Jack Duncan – the son of the founder – and all Jack wants is to graduate high school and go to college and play baseball. He and his best friend Adrian have had this plan for a while and they don’t want anything to get in the way of it. Jack’s father had died when he was just a kid but now one of his dad’s friends has come to him to tell him that perhaps his dad’s death was not what it seemed. Jack’s mother isn’t talking so he decides to find out for himself. This man also gives him his father’s playing cards.
Jack’s coming of age is set against the background of the fight for rights for the grape pickers as they start to unionize. The efforts of Cesar Chavez divided the town and had impacts on Jack’s life that he could not begin to understand. His best friend Adrian is the son of one of the picketing workers so even their friendship was frowned upon by many in town.
The book is rich in detail about the lives on both sides of this great divide – the planters and the pickers. The characters are well drawn and real. I knew very little about this piece of history so it was enlightening to say the least to go back in time through the eyes of the people in this well written novel. I say it all the time but I love when a book takes me somewhere new so I can then go learn something. This book left me very thoughtful and it is certainly a book for these divided times.