Long Road Home

Ronald B. Taylor, Author Henry Holt & Company $19.45 (420p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0633-9
Refugees in their own land, the Okies, epitomized in Steinbeck's classic The Grapes of Wrath , also receive sympathetic treatment in this sprawling first novel. Forced off their Midwestern farm by the Depression, the Robertson family migrates to the promised land of California's lush San Joaquin Valley. They are unprepared, however, for the degradation they experience at the hands of the wealthy farm cartel. Through the eyes of 16-year-old Jake, pushed prematurely into adulthood, we see the stirrings of revolt, the birthpangs of the Farm Workers Union. Torn between the loyalty of his Bible-governed mother to their benign, non-union-oriented employer, and his awareness of the injustices inflicted by a few ruthless, powerful men, young Jake becomes enmeshed in the violence of the farm workers' strike and its deadly repercussions in his own family. Strong in the central themes of the union's growth and a boy's coming- of-age, the narrative suffers from fragmentary--and unnecessary--subplots; one subsidiary story, involving the mores of a rapacious land titan, simply fades away unresolved. The novel surmounts this flaw, however, and is an engaging and often gripping tale. L.A. journalist Taylor also wrote Chavez and the Farmworkers. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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