Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: The Road to Delano by John DeSimon

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for The Road to Delano by John DeSimone. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt as well as a great guest post from the author. There's also a tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of the book. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: The Road to Delano
Author: John DeSimone
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Publication Date: March 10th 2020
Print Length: 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
It’s 1968, and a strike by field workers in the grape fields has ripped an otherwise quiet central California town down the middle. Jack Duncan is a Delano high school senior who is on his way to earning a baseball scholarship, hoping to escape the turmoil infesting his town. His mother has kept from him the real cause of his father’s death, who was a prominent grower. But when an old friend hands Jack evidence indicating his father was murdered, he is compelled to dig deeper. This throws him and his best friend and teammate, Adrian Sanchez, whose father is a striking field worker, into the labor conflict led by Cesar Chavez. Road to Delano is the path Jack and Adrian must take to find their strength, their duty, and their destiny.


The voices from the fields woke Jack early on Saturday. The musky odor of grapes sifted into his bedroom even though his closed window was shut to the morning cold. He pulled back the drape and row upon row of trellised vines emerged from the gauzy twilight. They stretched to the horizon on three sides of his house. He thrust the window up and leaned out, and a biting wind chilled his face. Thick dark clouds filled the sky, and the voices of workers trimming and bundling echoed in the morning stillness. In these quiet moments, he imagined the land calling to him. Did it matter anymore that all of it was gone?

“Jack, you up?” his mother called from downstairs.

Off to the east, a red bruise ran across the rugged spine of the Sierra peaks. The air heavy with moisture, it was time to get on the road before a storm rolled in.

Jack slipped into his jeans and plaid shirt, tall and sinewy, hardened from work and sports. Ella, his girlfriend, always told him he never fought his clothes like some guys; they moved with him. He didn’t know what to say when she said things like that. He brushed back his blond crew cut and stooped to tie his boots, then he snatched his sheepskin coat off the hook by the door. His mother called again. The day was already half gone from the tone of her voice.

In the kitchen, he grabbed a piece of toast, slurped some coffee, and bolted outside.

He mounted the cab of his father’s dirt-splattered combine parked by the rickety porch of the Victorian, now tired and sagging. Jack fired it up and the engine idled under his throttle foot. The strong pulses surprised him after all those years of sitting idle. He revved it up, ready to make its last run into Delano.

The cab of the boxy, once-bright yellow combine, now the peeling paint, was pocked with rust, perched over the rotary thresher blade in front, raised for road travel. The square separation box that stripped the stalks of their grain pods hunched behind him. Most of the gauges worked—fuel, oil, temp, volts. He flicked on the headlights in the gray morning, two above on the cab’s roof and two below, illuminating the rusting threshing blade.
John DeSimone is a novelist, memoirist, and editor. He’s co-authored bestselling The Broken Circle: A memoir of escaping Afghanistan, and others. He taught writing as an adjunct professor at Biola University and has worked as a freelance editor and writer for nearly twenty years. His current release, a historical novel, The Road to Delano, is a coming of age novel set during the Delano grape strike led by Cesar Chavez. BookSirens said, “It’s more than a little Steinbeck, in a good way….” He lives in Claremont, California.

- Do you think this book has a contemporary message, and/or what do you want the reader to take away with them from this story?

The Road to Delano is as current as any story written today. Simply stated, it’s a coming of age story during a time of great crisis, not unlike our days. The crisis is the unjust working conditions of the fieldworkers in the grape fields that surround the small Central California town of Delan. This dusty burg that began as a whistle-stop on the Central Pacific Railroad was now the hub of table grape acreage. The story takes place during the most challenging point in a five-year strike of fieldworkers led by Cesar Chavez and Larry Itliong. Violence had steadily increased with growers sending their thugs into the picket lines to foment trouble. Beatings and harassment of strikers traveling the local roads were common. Cesar Chavez’s message of nonviolent action was wearing thin for his followers. Some of the younger hotheads among the strikers were talking about buying guns and taking out their anger on growers and their thugs. It was at this point that Cesar Chavez went on fast for nonviolence. A fast and not hunger strike. The fast was designed as a moment of self-reflection to recommit the union members to their cause. Would a fast succeed? Would the fieldworkers follow Chavez’s lead? Would they stay committed to nonviolent action? It was a considerable risk Cesar Chavez took because there was so much at stake.

The notion of one man going on a fast to restrain his followers and fellow union members from striking out in anger, of rioting, of shooting at those that had injured them, of destroying property, seems preposterous to us today. But, thankfully, the fast did work, and his people stayed committed to nonviolent action, and the strike was successful. The working conditions and wages in the fields were reformed, and workers were treated better.

Chavez’s message to us today is that reform in every part of our society can be accomplished. But not through violence. What we learned from Chavez is is that those seeking social justice, seeking changes in how our cities are policed, are governed, changes in our laws, have a model to follow. Violence ruins the message of reform. It dilutes the power of protest. Tearing down our neighborhoods, killing, burning, pillaging and destroying property never leads to substantive reform. Only chaos, criticism, and brings into question the true motivations of every protest.

Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, the Freedom Riders, the Students for Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, et. al., are our models for change. They are all relevant, and their actions and what they accomplished speak to us today.
John DeSimone will be awarding a signed copy of The Road to Delano (USA ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter after the tour. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love that this a is a great sounding murder mystery, my favorite genre

  2. Non-violence in this story is in current events at the present time. Drawing attention to injustices of migrant workers is a part of this historical fiction. Looks like a riveting read with a father's murder to solve.

  3. Sounds like a good read I love murder mysteries

  4. Thanks for the opportunity to win! The struggles of migrant works is still relevant today.

  5. It sounds like an interesting book. Thank you for sharing.

  6. New author for me, sounds good!

  7. This is a new author for me! Thanks for the opportunity to win.