Velva Jean Learns to Drive: Book 1 in the Velva Jean series

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Penguin, Jul 28, 2009 - Fiction - 416 pages
12 Reviews
From the author of the New York Times bestsellers Holding Up the Universe and All the Bright Places (soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning), a spellbinding debut about ill-fated love—and what it means to grow up.
“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 . . . Niven makes some memorable moon-spun magic in her rich fiction debut.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Like All the Bright Places, hailed as a “charming love story about [an] unlikely and endearing pair” (New York Times Book Review), Jennifer Niven's debut novel is a big-hearted story about the struggle to find happiness.

Velva Jean's mother urged her to "live out there in the great wide world,” and growing up in Appalachia in the years before World War II, Velva Jean dreams of becoming a big-time singer in Nashville. Then 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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lunule - LibraryThing

A great Southern Lit coming of age story. Totally engrossing and amazing character development. I listened to the digital audio book from the public library which is a great production of the book. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - caitief - LibraryThing

Velva Jean Learns to Drive is a stunning piece of historical fiction, set in pre WWII Appalachia. With a strong voice, a vivid setting, and a a cast of characters so vivid that I expect to run into ... Read full review


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About the author (2009)

JENNIFER NIVEN has written four novels for adults—Velva Jean Learns to Drive, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Becoming Clementine, and American Blonde—and three non-fiction books—Ada Blackjack, The Aqua-Net Diaries, and The Ice Master, which was named a top non-fiction book by Entertainment Weekly. She has also written two books for young adults: Holding Up the Universe and the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places; the movie, starring Elle Fanning, will be released in 2017.

Although she grew up in Indiana, she now lives with her fiancé and literary cats in Los Angeles, which remains her favorite place to wander.

For more information, visit,, or find her on Facebook.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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