Regular price: $35.00

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

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

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    338
  • 4 Stars
    207
  • 3 Stars
    68
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    13

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    411
  • 4 Stars
    86
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    5

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    283
  • 4 Stars
    153
  • 3 Stars
    60
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    12
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A real happening in the mountains

This is a time of pit toilets, a single light bulb hanging from the wires attached to a 2x4 on the front porch to which a refrigerator was attached. To have a car or truck ment freedom. Velva is trapped and is trying to get out. This seems like it’s a simple story but it isn’t. I remember some of these happenings. READ this book. It’s history in the making.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So many life lessons in one book

If you could sum up Velva Jean Learns to Drive in three words, what would they be?

Entertaining, wise, uplifting

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

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn because it has the same perspective of a child to adult narrator who has the same scrappy attitude about overcoming obstacles.

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

Velva Jean

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Never lose sight of your dreams

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A very rare 5-star audible book

I don't give 5-star reviews often, and I rarely write reviews, but this book is worth it.

I love a book that grips me from the first sentence and addicts me to the final word. Velda Jean Learns to Drive totally delivers.

You can read Audible's synopsis of the story description.

I want to express my appreciation for an expertly told tale, which came to life with through the reading of Jenna Lamia. She is an actress extraordinaire. This story was compelling, funny, sad, full of action and drama and love and hate, told from the perspective a young girl coming of age. I learned so much about the history of the South's mountain people, their trials and realities and ways of life.

The book was beautifully written and narrated, and is on my short list of all-time favorites.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Kinda reminds me of "Fried Green Tomatoes 🍅

This is a Great read! Loved narration! One of my favorites in a long time.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Southern Mt delight

Found a new favorite aurthor. Well written, can just visualize the story. Starts out with a 10 year old Appalachian mountain girl who grows into a woman who as she matures forgets and then remembers what her dream are.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great story!

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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!