Velva Jean Learns to Drive (Hardcover, Large Print)

By Jennifer Niven

Center Point, 9781602856059, 608pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2009

August 2009 Indie Next List

“A young girl born in the mountains of North Carolina has dreams of singing at the Grand Ole Opry and wearing a costume of satin and rhinestones. But Velva Jean marries Harley Bright, who turns from his bad boy days to become a revival preacher who tries to squash her spirit. You will love Velva Jean and enjoy watching her decide who she really is.”
— Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
View the List

Summer '10 Reading Group List

“Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven is lovely, coming-of-age story set in the mountains of North Carolina before World War II. Velva Jean dreams of becoming a singing star at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. The only way to get there is to leave the her small world and her own people in the bright yellow truck, yet she doesn't know how. Through loss and adversity, Velva Jean's spirit and belief in herself gives her the courage to drive that yellow pick up 'over holler and hill and through the valleys and streams, to the tops of mountains and then through the clouds on a road forged from dreams.'”
— Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
View the List


Sunday when she is ten years old, Velva Jean Hart is saved. But being saved is not anything like she expected; her loving mother dies and her father leaves her for one of his "adventures." But before she dies, Velva Jean's mother urges her to "live out there in the great wide world," and Velva Jean intends to do just that. She 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.