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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Thoroughly enjoyable

The reader made this book especially wonderful to listen to she had the perfect voice

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  • Story
  • Dot
  • Brownsboro, TX, United States
  • 05-16-16

Enjoyable listen.

What did you love best about Velva Jean Learns to Drive?

I have known people just like the ones in this story. So funny.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Besides Velva Jean, probably Sweet Fern. Jenna Lamia portrays Sweet Fern so vividly, you can experience her emotions.

What does Jenna Lamia bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Jenna Lamia is an incredible narrator. So expressive! Her reading is amazing.

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

Velva Jean. She is the main character of the story.

Any additional comments?

Great story. Would have been better for me without the curse words, but I understand they fit the characters being portrayed.

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Great story!

Wonderful characters, great story. Did not want it to end. I want to know what velva Jean does next.

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Loved it.

Story was very good and kept me engaged. Enjoyed some of the historical references. The narrator Was WONDERFUL and brings the story to life.

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  • Story

Historical Fiction + Jenna Lemia = Enjoyment

Any additional comments?

I'm a sucker for historical fiction - especially stories that deal with actual people and events, not just stories who happen to be set in the past. In fact, it's my favorite way to learn about history. Even though some people are fictional, someone very like them probably did exist and lived similar lives. This story paints a vivid and fresh picture of life in the hills of North Carolina at the time that Skyline Drive was being cut through the tops of the mountains. It reminded me often of the story of Christy by Catherine Marshall, although this was bit more earthy. I truly enjoyed the reading as well (Jenna Lamia is winner!). Ms. Niven did a wonderful job creating believable period characters, yet mixed with a little of the outlandish to spice things up a bit. You'll simultaneously cheer for and shake your head at Velva Jean!

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Very enjoyable

This book was a great listen, which I highly recommend. I was always eager to get back to it. The story is engaging and at times moving. The narration also was high-quality.

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depressing go nowhere

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

no. starts out with great promise and fades to disappointment. however VERY WELL READ.

Would you recommend Velva Jean Learns to Drive to your friends? Why or why not?

no. starts out with great promise and fades to disappointment. however VERY WELL READ.

Which scene was your favorite?

Opening scenes are the best. The train wreck is pretty good.

If you could take any character from Velva Jean Learns to Drive out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Velva & her brother what's-his-name

Any additional comments?

Good reading. The reader kept me in the book. I would have put it down had it been in print. Thanks.

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Excellent story Beautifully told!!

True characters, wonderful, tangible story line, great narration...I will definitely read this book again!! I look forward to Velva Jean Learns to Fly.

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Wonderful!

Really enjoyed this! Very well done. Story was great, reader did a fabulous job of bringing the tale to life.

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Sweet story, Interesting characters.

What about Jenna Lamia’s performance did you like?

She does a great job!! Usually when a narrator speaks in a voice of opposite gender, it is uncomfortable for me to hear. Not her though.