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)
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.
If I hadn't listened to the Velva Jean Learns to Drive first, my reaction may have been slightly more positive, but only slightly.
Ms. Niven filled the first book in this series, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, with warm, human characters that you could actually care about. Sadly, this installment, brings only paper-thin remakes of the original characters.
Granted, Emily Durante had a hard row to hoe as she attempted to pick up where the talented Jenna Lamia left off as the narrator of the first book in this series. Gone was our heroine's rich, endearing mountain drawl. I was jarred upon first hearing this Velva Jean voiced at the pace of New Yorker mixed with the broad sounds of a Minnesotan.
I don't have any objections to various characters in Velva Jean Learns to Fly. There were a lot of them though as the story moved from place to place and time to time pretty quickly.
Maybe if Jenna Lamia had continued narrating the Velva Jean character, this story might have held my attention and gained my sympathies. I found the subject matter of the first women pilots and how they were perceived by their male counterparts very interesting. And I always enjoy learning about history. It was primarily my love of historical novels that kept me listening to the end.
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.
I really liked Velva Jean Learns to Drive, but I LOVED this sequel. I found the first book to be very entertaining and it was enjoyable to learn about a girl growing up living a very sheltered life, but, in this book, that little girl has finally spread her wings and she is learning that she can do anything. I did not know there was a 3rd and 4th novel in this series, so when it ended, I was crushed...but imagine my surprise when I learned the next book, Becoming Clementine was available to download! I am so glad I started this series - I can honestly say this book inspired me.
Great story and characters
Lots of detail on my hometown, Nashville. Love the characters!
Not a bad narrator, but Jenna Lamia was better.
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".
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