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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 (288 )
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4.2 (188 )
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4.7 (192 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Susan Rock Hill, SC, United States 12-17-09
    Susan Rock Hill, SC, United States 12-17-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    195
    ratings
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    150
    67
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    Overall
    "If Jenna Lamia reads it, I'll listen to it!"

    And once again, she doesn't disappoint. Of course, I have to give Jennifer Niven some credit since she wrote this wonderful story. The characters and the plot are so real. It could happen in your own back yard. Although I felt like it was a little slow at first, I quickly became hooked to the characters, especially Velva Jean herself. Highly recommend it!

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Hampden, ME, United States 10-11-11
    Susan Hampden, ME, United States 10-11-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    5
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    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "GREAT!"

    Honestly, one of the best books I've listened to!
    Ranks up there with The Help, The Kitchen House, etc.
    Good storyline, good characters, well written - what more could you ask for?
    Well performed as well, by Jenna Lamia.
    Just a really, really good read - I promise - you won't be disappointed!

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 04-03-13
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 04-03-13 Member Since 2009

    Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""Old-timey" story with a Southern Accent - Great!"

    First off, I must agree with the other reviewers who rave about Jenna Lamia's narration - I could listen to her forever - she is downright melodic in her delivery. The author did a fabulous job of marrying the scenic, rugged background of the hill folk with the life story of the main character. This book is about a young girl growing up in the Appalachia in the 1930's-40's. She experiences hardship and joy - love and loss - despair and hope - all the things that make for a rich and meaningful story. I really enjoyed this selection and will recommend it to anyone longing for a journey back in time with the added bonus of it being "G-rated" for the most part and appropriate for younger listeners. My grandmother lived a similar life and this book made me feel closer to her, even though she has passed on. Folks were just tougher back in those old days - life was hard but the rewards were so much sweeter for it - makes you realize how much we take for granted in this day and age.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 12-01-09
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 12-01-09 Member Since 2003

    ShootingFish

    HELPFUL VOTES
    191
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    381
    34
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    20
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    Overall
    "This should win an Audie Award"

    I loved this book. Like the prior reviewer, it kept my attention from beginning to end. Jenna Lamia is one of my favorite narrators, and southern literature suits her voice. This book ranks right up there with Secret Life of Bees (also narrated by Lamia) and The Help (Lamia is a narrator here, too.). This is the first fiction book by this author, which can't be her last. She ties all the "little stories" in the book together with a very easy to listen to style. And no, it's not about driving. Highly recommend this one.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheila AZLE, TX, United States 07-22-11
    Sheila AZLE, TX, United States 07-22-11 Member Since 2011

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
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    14
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    "Entertaining and interesting"

    Velva Jean is an interesting listen and even a bit inspiring. It's set in the Depression era, but the author accurately reflects the 'life as usual' for families and communities who had already lived in poverty for generations. The blend of Christianity with mountain folk lore and superstition was amusing. Of course the narrator, Jenna Lamia, could read a telephone book aloud and manage to hold my attention. I found it both entertaining as well as interesting.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan palm Bay, FL, USA 05-28-10
    Susan palm Bay, FL, USA 05-28-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    3
    1
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    0
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    "Wonderful book!!!!"

    I loved this book! I was sad when it had to end. The narrator is the absolute best! I hope the auther writes more books soon, maybe a part II of Velva Jean?

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary California, MD, United States 04-04-12
    Mary California, MD, United States 04-04-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    12
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    "Engaging, endearing, captivating"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I dread the end of this audio book. I've enjoyed every minute of it. Even my drive to work has been something I've looked forward to. I absolutely love Jenna Lamia, who totally captures the unique personalities, both male and female, of each character. She's amazing.

    Jennifer's Niven's writing is so well done, transporting the listener to another place, another time. THe only way I can face the end of this book is the knowledge that another follows. Thank you for the distinct pleasure of listening to this tale!


    What other book might you compare Velva Jean Learns to Drive to and why?

    The Secret LIfe of Bees


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Too many to choose one.


    Who was the most memorable character of Velva Jean Learns to Drive and why?

    Definitely Velva Jean, but her grandparents and Johnny Clay were also admirable.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barb McDougall 11-04-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Excellent listen"

    This book was a great listen. The only reason I downloaded it was because it was narrated by Jenna Lamia and every book she has narrated I have really enjoyed. She is a great story teller. So this book was a surprise, I enjoyed it that much. Velva Jean tells her story and you fall in love with her naive, honesty. I will proably listen to this one again.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shauna Loveland, CO, United States 01-08-10
    Shauna Loveland, CO, United States 01-08-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    11
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    "Lovely book"

    This book is a wonderful read. It is a simple story of a girl and her dreams. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy EL DORADO, AR, United States 11-05-09
    Kathy EL DORADO, AR, United States 11-05-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    52
    6
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    Overall
    "Great Book!"

    I loved this book, it kept my attention for the full 14 hours. I read it originally because the narrator is one of my favorites and she did not disappoint this time either. I only wish this author had another book, I would download it now.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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