In John DeSimone’s Road to Delano (Rare Bird Books, 2020), it’s 1968, and Cesar Chavez is organizing the United Farm Workers to fight for decent working conditions and basic human rights, while growers get increasingly violent in trying to prevent unionization.
Teenager Jack Duncan learns that his father’s death did not happen the way he’d been told. His best friend Adrian joins his own father in fighting for workers rights with Chavez. Jack and Adrian hope baseball will be their ticket to college scholarships and a way out of Delano, California, but Jack’s widowed mother is about to lose her house to a greedy grower, and because of his father’s activities, school officials threaten Adrian’s hope of graduation.
Turns out the growers own the town, including the police department and the school officials. The plight of pesticide-poisoning and other injustices to immigrant workers (which we are sadly still fighting today) pulls the two best friends away from their goal of getting out of Delano and pushes them into a deadly game of survival.
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) with Enjeela Ahmadi, and Courage to Say No with Dr. Raana Mahmood, about her struggles against sexual exploitation as a female physician in Karachi. His novels Leonardo’s Chair and No Ordinary Man have received critical recognition, and in 2012, he won a prestigious Norman Mailer Fellowship to complete Road to Delano. He works with aspiring writers with stories of inspiration and determination or with those who have a vital message. When he isn’t reading or writing, John loves traveling and tasting different foods and cultures, but he is currently a caregiver for his wife.