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Review: The Road to Delano by John DeSimone

Title: The Road to Delano

Author: John DeSimone

Year Published: 2020

Category: Adult (YA?) fiction
Pages: 426
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (CA)

Summary (from Amazon): A high school senior, Jack Duncan dreams of playing college baseball and leaving the political turmoil of the agricultural town Delano behind. Ever since his father, a grape grower, died ten years earlier, he's suspected that his mother has been hiding the truth from him about the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

With his family's property on the verge of a tax sale, Jack drives an old combine into town to sell it. On the road, an old friend of his father shows up with evidence that Jack's father was murdered. Armed with this new information, Jack embarks on a mission to discover the entire truth, not just about his father but the corruption endemic in the Central Valley.

When Jack's girlfriend warns him not to do anything to jeopardize their post graduation plans and refuses to help him, Jack turns to his best friend, Adrian, the son of a boycotting fieldworker who works closely with Cesar Chavez. The boys' dangerous plan to rescue the Duncan family farm leaves Adrian in a catastrophic situation, and Jack must step up to the plate and rescue his family and his friend before he can make his escape from Delano.


Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Rare Bird Books

Review:  Another good book from TLC Book Tours. I was supposed to read and review this one many months ago, but the something postponed the tour so I just got the copy of it recently. I say this to point out that when I was first offered the book, I read the synopsis and thought it sounded interesting then didn't read it again; I just plunged right into to reading the book. So, I was surprised to read a forward by Mark Grossman, Spokesperson for the Cesar Chavez Foundation. I really liked the Forward as it set the tone that this novel is about real events and people as well as the significance of Cesar Chavez and the farm worker strikes.

As a kid in California, I remember boycotting grapes. I was only 5 years old at the time so didn't understand the details and I don't remember knowing why I couldn't eat grapes, but I am sure my parents explained it at the time. The United Farm Workers union plays a big part of this story and the tension between the field workers and the growers is palpable. So is the violence and neglect for fellow human beings.

I wish I had connected more to the characters in this book earlier on. By the end I was with them (and oh what an ending!), but wish I had been for more of the book. I think deep down I wanted Adrian, the Latino son of a farm worker, to be the main character rather than Jack, his white friend. But, by the end of the novel I understand why the story was written from Jack's perspective as it allowed for a wider look at the issues and what was going on in different parts of the town.

This is a book that will really help readers to understand the issues behind the farm workers strikes, the conditions under which migrant workers live, and the tensions between the them and the white growers. The last bit is really tense and the ending shows that none of this has a good resolution.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Big Book--426 pages
  • Diversity--Latinx characters
  • Historical fiction--1960s farm workers' strikes

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