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Velva Jean Learns to Drive | [Jennifer Niven]

Velva Jean Learns to Drive

Set in Appalachia in the years before World War II, Velva Jean Learns to Drive is a poignant story of a spirited young girl growing up in the gold-mining and moonshining South. Before she dies, Velva Jean's mother urges her to "live out there in the great wide world." Velva Jean dreams of becoming a big-time singer in Nashville until she falls in love with Harley Bright, a handsome juvenile delinquent turned revival preacher.
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Publisher's Summary

Set in Appalachia in the years before World War II, Velva Jean Learns to Drive is a poignant story of a spirited young girl growing up in the gold-mining and moonshining South. Before she dies, Velva Jean's mother urges her to "live out there in the great wide world".

Velva Jean dreams of becoming a big-time singer in Nashville until she falls in love with Harley Bright, a handsome juvenile delinquent turned revival preacher. As their tumultuous love story unfolds, Velva Jean must choose between keeping her hard-won home and pursuing her dream of singing in the Grand Ole Opry.

©2009 Jenniver Niven; (P)2009 Penguin

What the Critics Say

"It's a touching read, funny and wise, like a crazy blend of Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, a less morose Flannery O'Connor and maybe a shot of Hank Williams." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (392 )
5 star
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4.2 (285 )
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Story
4.6 (289 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Betsy 11-14-14
    Betsy 11-14-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    Story
    "Awesome narration! Extraordinary story!"
    What other book might you compare Velva Jean Learns to Drive to and why?

    Coal Miner's Daughter, Forrest Gump, the Hunger Games, Doll House, The Book of Bright Ideas


    Which character – as performed by Jenna Lamia – was your favorite?

    Jenna Lamia was a pitch perfect Velva Jean. I wish she had narrated the entire series.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    All of the above!


    Any additional comments?

    I wish Jenna Lamia had narrated the rest of this series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joanne 09-19-14
    joanne 09-19-14
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    "It was just OK"
    What made the experience of listening to Velva Jean Learns to Drive the most enjoyable?

    The book was entertaining but a little boring. I kept waiting for something, not too sure what, just something...It never came.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    A little bit more drama would help.


    Any additional comments?

    Really not a horrible read, just ho hum, yawn....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-17-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Like living through this personal history"

    I absolutely loved this book, from start to finish. I thought it was so well written, right from the start, that it kept my attention every minute. I have lived in rural areas for so long I could have known these families, understood their loyalties and values and respected their sense of honor in life. There is a tough pride that has come from doing things that had to be done, without complaining, with a simple acceptance of life and death that is a rare thing in our modern society. I found myself cheering Velva Jean on, wishing for her dreams to come true.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jodie Middletown, NY, United States 06-17-14
    Jodie Middletown, NY, United States 06-17-14 Member Since 2014

    I have a rather eclectic love of books. I know what I like and I tend not to be a severe critic. If I enjoyed it, it gets 4 or 5 stars.

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    Story
    "Wonderful Story - really enjoyed!"

    This is a lovely story and I really enjoyed listening to it. Jenna Lamia is one of my favorite narrators and, of course, she did a fantastic job with this book. It is the story of a woman coming of age during times of change. The story is pleasant - very little in the way of violence - which is a refreshing break. Walking through Velva Jean's life with her, in a tiny town off the Blue Ridge Parkway during the Depression was fascinating!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Oneal California 04-16-14
    C. Oneal California 04-16-14 Member Since 2012

    I'm addicted to Audible. A new grandma I am responsible for my grandsons library, which reignited my interest in books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow but good story"

    I enjoyed it and it didn't demand my complete concentration so it served it's purpose. I liked it well enough to get the next in the series. However the narrator of the next one was different and i couldn't get my head around the fact it was the same character. I wasn't thrilled with the accent of the first narrator but I lived through it and the switch just threw me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jancie Celebration, FL, United States 02-14-14
    Jancie Celebration, FL, United States 02-14-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Loved every minute of it!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Velva Jean Learns to Drive to be better than the print version?

    I loved Jenna Lamia's narration, as she brought Velva Jean to life. She made this wonderful story that much better. I understand she did not narrate the sequel, so while I plan on reading the sequel, Velva Jean Learns To Fly, I will read it, as I can't imagine this series without her narration.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Just entering into the main character's world, which was the Blue Ridge mountains of NC in the depression years of the 1930's, was a revelation. It's hard to imagine that kind of poverty and that kind of life, but Jennifer Niven took me there and I loved it.


    What about Jenna Lamia’s performance did you like?

    Her accent and voice was so beautiful. She brought tears to my eyes more than once.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Velva Jean was talking about the time she accidentally killed a firefly and how it parceled her own marriage to Harley.


    Any additional comments?

    I knew nothing about this book and purchased it based on the many glowing reviews. I'm so glad I did!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bj 12-24-13
    Bj 12-24-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Another good one...."

    This was such a cute story.....very well narrated/performed. I was looking for a story that would take me away from it all....something that would hopefully be a good mix of many things and this story did it. I really enjoyed the plot...and all of the characters. Ive listened to Jenna Lamia before and she is very good...and pulls you into the book every time. If you are looking for a book that will represent innocence, love, laughter, family complexities,this is the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 11-14-13
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 11-14-13 Member Since 2015

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

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    "Superb narration, good story"

    Set in rural North Carolina in the 1930s, this is a coming of age and self-discovery story of young Velva Jean. While the story is enjoyable and simple, it raises great questions about life, love, families and marriage...what do you do when someone misunderstands your appropriate and helpful actions? What do you do when someone's actions of love are actually oppressing you? When is it appropriate to be selfless and when is it appropriate to be selfish? Is there room for both?

    The audio book is excellent, with a narrator highly skilled at providing appropriate accents and voices. She clearly enhanced the book experience.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KarenS Waukesha, WI, United States 09-10-13
    KarenS Waukesha, WI, United States 09-10-13 Member Since 2011

    karose

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    "Great storyline, great reader!"

    I loved the captivating story of Velva Jean. I empathized with her all along the way, having lost my mother and having gone through many difficult circumstances in my own life.

    Jenna Lamia is very talented and did a wonderful job of bringing the characters in this book to life.

    I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Kalamazoo, MI, United States 01-08-13
    Lisa Kalamazoo, MI, United States 01-08-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Entertaining read"

    I bought this book because Jenna Lamia is one of my favorite narrators. I am glad I got it because of her performance. The story was just ok.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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