Velva Jean Hart, the fiercely independent heroine of Jennifer Niven's spectacular debut novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, returns in a captivating adventure that literally sends her soaring. Bristling at the limitations faced by a woman in rural Appalachia and fueled by the memory of her late Mama telling her to "live out there," Velva Jean hits the road to pursue her dream of singing at the Grand Ole Opry. But after a string of auditions, she begins to lose hope - until her brother pays her a surprise visit and treats Velva Jean to a flying lesson that ignites a brand-new dream: to become a female pilot. Funny, poignant, and utterly unforgettable, Velva Jean Learns to Fly will have fans cheering all over again.
©2011 Jennifer Niven (P)2011 Tantor
"Besides creating a gutsy heroine, who, despite the repressive times, never becomes bitter, Niven's writing shines overall. Cheers to Niven, Velva Jean." (Booklist)
AVID reader; very critical. My reviews don't repeat the book's description, but are why I enjoyed the book and why I think you will.
VJ Learns to Drive was one of my favorites, the performance 5 stars. VJ Learns to Fly was barely bearable. Had I not been on bed rest I wouldn't have gotten through it. I did enjoy learning about the WASP's roll in WWII. Everything in the story was just too contrived. The narrator was horrible. I would have given her a zero if I could have. She is particularly bad in the first 1/4 of the book. She gets tolerable in the last 1/3. I really got tired of VJ going through the same old list of friends, experiences and lessons every time she faced a problem. The character just wasn't believable through this narrator or the story. VJ's life's dream goes from singing at the grand ole opry to flying bombers for the air force? Too big a leap. Even the "rise above it syndrome" doesn't explain this turn around in her to the point she is willing to die to fly. I would highly recommend VJ Learns to Drive, then she needs to stay on the ground! The book ends with hints at a sequel "VJ Learns to Fight."
I liked the way Jenna Lemia read the first book in the series, and I felt like I was now a part of Velva Jean's family, rooting for her so much that I wanted to hear her next adventure, but this the new reader (Emily Durante) was so different, I was very disappointed. I felt as if my baby was switched at the hospital. The book is so well written, but the new reader obviously hadn't read the first book and didn't know the story line, so her interpretation was flat. Bummer.Regarding the story, I loved it, but I felt at one point, there was a forced event - when Gossy ended up on the same plane Velva Jean was piloting into history. The story didn't need it and I didn't buy it for a second that Gossy would put up with the military and vice versa. Also, the way it ended makes me feel that there's so many loose ends, there's gotta be another book soon.
I love the way Jennifer Niven weaves a tale. I also like the way she's paints the landscape of discrimination, prejudice and how women were (are) treated. Good for Velva Jean!
If you enjoyed Velva Jean Learns to Drive you are in for a treat. This book is even better. I can't wait for the next one. Hope the author doesn't make me wait to long. I am dying to know what happens next.
I loved the book, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, and I loved the reader. She did a wonderful job maintaining different voices for each character. I felt like I was right there on Fair Mountain.
I was excited and looked forward to Velva Jean Learns to Fly. Sadly, a different reader was chosen for this book. She doesn't have a southern accent and is not at all consistent in the voice she uses for Velva Jean, and barely manages to differentiate the other characters. Sorry, Emily, it's nothing personal, I am sure you are a very nice person!
It's hard to rate the story because I am so disappointed in the performance.
I'll be returning this book and hope that Becoming Clementine has an engaging reader.
Mom of Seven
Moving, Heartfelt, Emotional
The moment she knew what "Beyond the Keep" really meant.
She has a pleasant Southern Drawl and kept the story lively.
Velva Jean, I want to hear more stores about the WASP's
At the end of the book there was a narritive on the WASP program telling of it's many victories and faults. This made the book come to life and left me thinking about the times during WWII and the women who joined in our fight to freedom.
Actually, I liked that I learned more about the female pilots of WWII than I had known. I didn't expect to get that much history, and it makes me want to learn more.
Velva Jean, of course!
Originally I had read "Being Clementine" before I knew about the first 2 books. But it wasn't a problem going back to read and catch-up, except she would refer to something in her youth she expected you to know. Not to worry, VJ explained things in a way a child does and you move forward. I am glad I went back and picked up on who she had been. It finishes painting the "Big Picture".
Having just finished Velva Jeans Learns to Drive, read by my favorite narrator Jenna Lamia, I was very skeptic about switching to a different narrator. After the initial shock of a different voice, I have to say that Emily Durante did a very good job. So if you're apprehensive about the switch in narration - don't be. This book is still an excellent listen.
I loved Velva Jean learns to drive. I think it is a better story - AND - the narrator is much better. Jennifer Nivens is a natural at narrating. Unfortunately Emily Durante cannot hold a candle to her.
First you have to listen to Velva Jean Learns to Drive, then you will know why you have to listen to Velva Jean Learns to Fly. Both are narrated by Emily Durante, she does a great job.
Velva Jean of course. She was brave enough to follow her heart and did not let the men in her life keep her back.
Sweat Fern, even thought she would not have taken the same path she admired Velva Jean for her stamina to keep going.
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