DELANO, Calif., Feb. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Fifty-one years ago on March 10, 1968, Robert Kennedy's words at the gathering in Delano to celebrate Cesar Chavez's breaking of his fast for non-violence still echo through the years: "This is a historic occasion. We have come here out of respect for one of the heroic figures of our time—Cesar Chavez."
Part organizer, part humanitarian, Chavez undertook his 25 day fast for non-violence to tamp down the farm workers' anger over their treatment. The labor struggle in California's grape fields had been dragging on for three contentious years with no end in sight. When violence and threats of retaliation by the field workers began to circulate, Chavez retreated to a small closet and fasted as a witness to his union members not to strike back.
"This was a heroic act of self-sacrifice," said the author, John DeSimone of Claremont. In his forthcoming historical novel, The Road to Delano, that scene at Memorial Park in Delano, with Cesar Chavez, Robert Kennedy, Dolores Huerta, surrounded by over 10,000 workers and supporters, plays a crucial role in the story.
The novel is set in Delano in 1968. Two Delano teenagers are the protagonists, both high school seniors. 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.
Jack turns to his best friend, Adrian Sanchez, 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.
The Road to Delano is the path Jack and Adrian must take to find their strength, their duty, their destiny.
Marc Grossman of the Cesar Chavez Foundation wrote in the book's Foreword, "The novel … embraces the moral courage it takes to make the difficult decisions in life often imposes on us…"
DeSimone became intrigued with Cesar Chavez's use of non-violence while teaching freshman writing at Biola University. Using a reader on the history of non-violence, he came across Chavez's story. Further research over several years developed into a novel.
"I couldn't believe that I understood so little of the critical history of my own state," DeSimone said. "Chavez is a seminal figure in the labor movement in California, but after years of research, I realized he is also a cultural hero, someone who inspired people across all cultural, ethnic, and religious lines. When I began to formulate the story, I asked myself what were the teenagers thinking and doing during this time." This led the author to focus on two high school seniors who were both affected by the conflict.
Deeper issues drove the author to spend five years researching and writing the book. "I believe the meaning of Cesar Chavez's life is relevant today, not only for his use of non-violence, but his willingness to stand up for the weakest in society without tearing others down."
Since March 10, 1968, 51 years have passed, but March 10, 2020, is a day to remember there is power in non-violence and in standing up for justice.
John DeSimone is a novelist, memoirist, and bestselling co-author. You can read more about him at www.johndesimone.com
Published by Rare Bird Books, Los Angeles
Available March 10, 2020
Author: John DeSimone
What the critics are saying:
"This whole story is an absolute triumph!"
―The Hauntedfae 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."―
"Five Stars. Outstanding writing, fast-paced. A must-read for people who love history..."
"It's more than a little Steinbeck, in a very good way…."
---Leigh Ann, Book Sirens
For interviews, advance copies, or further information contact. John DeSimone ([email protected])
SOURCE John DeSimone