The Road to Delano by John DeSimone | Book Review

What The Peer Reviewers Say about The Road to Delano

“I truly enjoyed this fictional journey through labor history and the development of a young man’s conscience. Recommended.”
Book Sirens

“This whole story is an absolute triumph!”
Thehauntedfae Book Blog

“…a fast-paced thriller with a social conscience.”
Online Book Club

The Road to Delano is a compelling story that will leave readers thinking about its surprise ending long after the final confrontation comes to a head.”―
California Bookwatch

“Five Stars. Outstanding writing, fast-paced. A must-read for people who love history AND baseball.”

What The Publishers Say about The Road to Delano

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.

What I Say about The Road to Delano

The Road to Delano  was a well laid-out family saga where the writing was pleasantly expansive from the first page. The details the author provided of the process of Sugar’s moving from dream to ambition to reality was at once inspirational for its comparison of gambling and making a livelihood from farming. Sugar as a character embodies the growth and dissipation of hope in the provision of the land, a theme I found quite interesting. Even Sugar’s supposed murder and the subsequent chapters where his widow was in mourning and his son Jack had inherited the pain of silence but not much else, all felt pleasurable to read because DeSimone had created characters who seem complex enough to narrate a 300-plus page mystery. Other relationships were just as intriguing and treated with the diligence due relics from a past who could illuminate the present as well and I found myself thumbing through this book eager for the reveal of the mysterious circumstances hinted at in the beginning, while also savoring the historical references littering the dialogue. Jack’s evolution from child to representative of social conscience and the spirit of adventure made this a multilayered literary feast.

Kudos to John DeSimone for penning such delightfully transporting prose that had me yearning for the San Francisco vineyard, or my own journey on The Road To Delano.

About The Book

  • Title: The Road to Delano
  • Author: John DeSimone
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: Rare Bird Books
  • Publication Date: March 10, 2020

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.

Find out more about John at his website, and connect with him on Instagram.

Author Links: Website and Instagram


Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours for inviting me on this blog tour and providing me with a complimentary copy of The Road To Delano  in exchange for a honest review.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sara Strand says:

    I’m glad this was such a hit for you! Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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