Enduv Road

Fiction - Drama
278 Pages
Reviewed on 04/08/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

When Simmy Jackson discovers her family is intent on moving from Buffalo to Utah, she is puzzled. Curiosity gives way to dismay when she realizes that the inspiration behind their exodus is none other than their cuckoo Aunt Beaner's consultations with her Ouija board. It's bad enough that their new home is in a remote location; there seems to be no future for them there. However, her family's quirky habits and unusual ability to band together when the chips are down and their backs against the wall are sorely tested as they evolve. Years later, Simmy recalls the events and the principal characters whose actions set in motion an irreversible chain of events in their family life in Gwen Banta's Enduv Road.

In Gwen Banta's emotional novel, a family chronicles their origins in astonishing detail. Her storyline is simple to follow as it flows from past to present and back again in a fluid and interesting manner. The characters are a curious collection with deep backstories laced with one oddity or the other creating some excellent comic relief. Beaner, as her nickname suggests, is an obvious example of the family nutcase, and Lefty's shenanigans are exciting to follow. The subplots are as varied as one would expect in a dramatic tale that spans generations, but it is still lovely to see the romance and mystery subplots noticeably dominate the flow. Banta deserves plaudits; Enduv Road combines interesting subplots with unusual characters to deliver a family-oriented drama to appeal to a broad audience irrespective of their leanings.

Lucinda E Clarke

Gwen Banta begins Enduv Road during World War II and follows three generations of the Jackson family and their closest friends. Each character is whimsical, particularly Aunt Beaners, namely Beatrice, who uproots the family, Arty, Simmy, aka Cimarron, and Lefty, otherwise Brian, to a ranch in Utah. Beaners announces that the Ouija board advises it, but there is no further explanation. Only later in the story is there a more rational explanation. We first meet twelve-year-old Simmy, devastated by the move, but their new life has lots to offer. They are welcomed by Spratt, who lives on the property and becomes a much-loved part of the family. Even elderly Millie, a horse with years under her saddle, is a new venture for Lefty. But no one knows that their new town is doomed and they will not be able to stay there forever.

Enduv Road by Gwen Banta is a delightful story. I loved it because of the quirky characters. Their behavior borders on the bizarre; their wisdom is infinite yet accurate, with phrases such as 'walk with determination,' and their hearts are as big as the ocean. Whatever they do, and it’s not always legal, you cannot help but warm to them; I was ready to laugh and cry with each of them. Lives are lost, marriages fail, yet close family relations shine through. Banta has a way with words that left me both smiling and in awe of her writing: “She always had great faith in the Ouija board and swore it would talk to anyone who would listen. I could never get my own Monopoly board to tell me a darn thing, so I suspected that Beaners either had magical transmitters or faulty wiring.” Banta's descriptions of the beauty of Utah paint beautiful pictures. A book to savor and enjoy.

Jennifer Ibiam

After Cimarron Jackson and her brother, Brian, lose their mom to leukemia, they move in with Beatrice, aka Beaners, and her husband in Buffalo. Beaners is their eccentric maternal aunt who shared a deep bond with their mom and adores the children. She also believes in spirits and is a self-acclaimed psychic. When Cimarron is barely thirteen years old in 1960, her aunt claims there is danger. Beaners said a disaster would happen, and her Ouija board says they must leave for Utah to safety. Her family is skeptical but goes to the backwater Swope ranch in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, their relocation has nothing to do with the Holocaust and Ouija board. Beaners has a secret worth a trip to the past and future in Enduv Road by Gwen Banta.

Enduv Road by Gwen Banta is a beautiful story that made me thoughtful and grateful for love, life, and family. It is about love, loss, grief, family, fierce loyalty, forgiveness, and how history shapes the future. I loved everything about it, from the character and world-building to the unique storyline and relaxed tone. Banta is a talented writer who uses witty words and humor that add flavor and authenticity to the story. It felt like I was sitting with Cimarron some years later and enjoying a chat about the good old days. Enduv Road shows that your family doesn’t have to be perfect or wealthy because love, laughter, and commitment to each other are the most important. I loved Beaners and Arty very much and laughed at their antics. Spratt and Jim also captured my heart. Did TJ deserve a second chance? My heart isn’t that big. It entertained and educated me; thank you for a mindful book.