DiscoverHistorical Fiction

Road to Delano


Must read 🏆

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

As both a baseball lover and someone who was alive and active in social justice movements in 1968, I can say that this book was almost tailor-made for me. As it begins, a young gambler named Sugar Duncan meets the love of his live, Shirley, marries her, but, after discovering that she does not fancy the life of a gambler's wife and instead dreams of living on a farm, he gives up gambling and begins the farming life. He has a degree in agriculture, and they move to California, where he realizes that grapes will be the crop of the future. He also realizes that migrant farmworkers are people who need to be treated as human beings, much to the chagrin of his fellow farm owners, who seek to exploit the migrants so that they can increase their profits. Because of his compassion, Sugar mysteriously loses his life on the way home from a farm convention. Was it an accident? Was it because Sugar returned to gambling and drinking during the convention?

Baseball, you ask? Shirley and Sugar have one son, Jack. He's one of the stars of the local baseball team, along with Adrian, the son of a farmworker. Adrian's father is involved with the United Farmworkers' Union and Cesar Chavez, trying to organize the workers to get better working conditions and living wages from the growers. Jack and Adrian are looking for college scouts to get baseball scholarships during their senior high school year.

It soon becomes obvious that the local police and judges are in the pockets of the growers, as strange things begin to happen to Jack and his mother, as they try to survive at the hands of crooked fruit growers and people who conspire to control the lives of farmworkers.

The writing is intense, especially when Jack is going through self-examination and trying to determine what his next move should be at every step. I especially enjoyed his thought processes when he was pitching, and what he had to deal with when his mind was whirling with non-baseball issues at times when he needed to focus on a game that might mean he would receive a scholarship. The entire novel is just well done.

This novel is historically correct and exciting. I wasn't able to predict how things were going to turn out, and I would certainly recommend this book to anyone, especially any reader who lived through those times. The characterizations of Cesar Chavez, and especially his meetings with Robert F. Kennedy (just prior to the Kennedy assassination) were accurate. One minor issue: Cesar Chavez's slogan was Si, se puede, no Si, se peuda (as in, Yes, we can).

Overall, an outstanding book.

Reviewed by

After a 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, I wrote my first novel, "Empty Seats," a coming-of-age book with baseball as the backdrop. This award-winning debut novel is appropriate for young adults as well as people of all ages and has received excellent reviews on Amazon.


About the author

John DeSimone is a novelist. He also writes biographies and memoirs. He’s been an adjunct professor of English at Biola University and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. For eight years, he directed the OC Writers Conference in Newport Beach, California. view profile

Published on March 10, 2020

Published by Rare Bird Lit

110000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by