Velva Jean Learns to Fly

( 7 )

Overview

After Pearl Harbor, Velva Jean signs up for service and gets her wings, risking her life-and her heart.

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 fuelled by the memory of her late Mama telling her to "live out there," Velva Jean hits the road to pursue her dream ...

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Overview

After Pearl Harbor, Velva Jean signs up for service and gets her wings, risking her life-and her heart.

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 fuelled 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

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Niven delivers another tale full of hope, heartbreak, and nostalgia in this sequel to Velva Jean Learns to Drive. Now in her twenties, at the dawn of World War II, heroine Velva Jean Hart leaves her husband and the comfort of her hometown in North Carolina to pursue her life-long dream of singing at the Grand Ole Opry. Once she arrives, she quickly learns that breaking into the music business is breaking her heart, but that doesn't stop our mind-bogglingly positive ingénue from sticking it out and singing the blues every chance she gets. Velva Jean's aspirations soon take a dramatic turn when her brother Johnny Clay introduces her to flying planes. Consumed with becoming a heroic female aviator, Velva Jean joins the WAFS, the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, part of the Army Air Forces, and experiences a wartime life filled with love, despair, and life-threatening adventures. A tasteful blend of comedy, inspiration, and endurance. (Sept.)
-Cassandra King
"I devoured Velva Jean Learns to Fly and immediately began spreading the word: This one is not to be missed!"
-American Library Association
"You don't have to read the first to become completely engrossed with the second, but once you meet Velva Jean, you're going to want to!"
Library Journal
It is 1944, and Velva Jean Hart is ferrying pilots from the United States to England as part of the Women's Air Service Pilots (WASP). In addition to her patriotism, Velva Jean hopes to find her brother Johnny Clay, who went missing after D-day. On Velva Jean's first flight to bring supplies to Allied forces in France, her B-24 Liberator is hit and the pilot mortally wounded. As copilot, Velva Jean is forced to crash-land in occupied France, losing her entire crew and all but a handful of operatives aboard. Thanks to French spy Emile and his team, she is enlisted into a different kind of fight against the Germans. VERDICT Niven (Velva Jean Learns To Fly) continues her heroine's growth from small-town Southern girl. Velva Jean uses her native smarts and tricks she learned in WASP training to make a creditable "weapon of war." The author gives her plenty of hurdles to overcome, as well as a bit of romance, while readers learn more about the role women played in World War II. Recommended for readers who enjoyed Marie Bostwick's On Wings of the Morning.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal
From the Publisher
"Besides creating a gutsy heroine, who, despite the repressive times, never becomes bitter, Niven's writing shines overall. Cheers to Niven, Velva Jean." —-Booklist Starred Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452297401
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/30/2011
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 335,004
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Niven
Jennifer Niven is the author of three acclaimed nonfiction books in addition to her debut novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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(3)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 2, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Highly recommended

    Historical fiction at its best! Author Jennifer Niven uses her research skills, honed as a writer of award-winning nonfiction, to create the setting and plot of her second novel, which is even more delightful than the enjoyable Velva Jean Learns to Drive. Both novels are great choices for book clubs or community reads. Look for the continuing adventures of the plucky Velva Jean in the upcoming third novel, VJ Learns to Spy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Wonder Woman

    We first met her in Velva Jean Learns to Drive, where she was searching for her dream. Now Velva Jean is back in a second novel, pursuing her dreams.

    It is 1941, and Velva Jean has made it to Nashville. She is struggling to make her way in the music industry. Her heart and soul remain grounded in the mountains of North Carolina, but her dream is still to sing at The Grand Ol' Opry.

    To the shock of the world, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and suddenly everything is changed. Velva Jean sadly watches as men she knows go off to war. Before reporting for military duty, her brother finds her in Nashville.

    Determined to learn to fly, he takes Velva Jean with him to lessons. This opens up a whole new world to Velva Jean. She loves the feeling of flying, but even more she loves the challenge of it. She decides to learn to fly.

    Velva Jean continues to delight and surprise. From the mountains to the city to the wild blue yonder, the sky is the limit for her! Through Velva Jean we see the beginning of Women Airforce Service Pilots (Wasps) in World War II.

    I wonder what Velva Jean, and Jennifer Niven, will do next. I think they are capable of almost anything they put their mind to!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2012

    Read per library reading club.

    Read per library reading club.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2011

    highly recommended sequal

    I loved this book almost as much as Velva Jean Learns to Drive. It picks up right where the first one left off. I found myself thinking about Velva Jean, even when I wasn't reading, and wondering what she was doing; as if she were a real person. The writing is rich and complete so you can invision it clearly. The characters are so interesting you want to know them and you don't want the story to end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Woman Crooner Becomes Woman Warrior!

    Velva Jean Hart is tired of small town living, including a husband who is part preacher and part moonshiner. She'd been told she had a wonderful voice and a record producer actually made a record of one of her "Yellow Truck..." songs, telling her to look him up if she ever got to Nashville, Tennessee from rural Appalachia in Alluvia, North Carolina. So she sang every song she knew as she left her home all the way to the point in Tennessee where she got a flat tire. But Velva Jean is a spunky gal and managed to conquer this problem, find a place to live, and make a friend who would help until Velva Jean finally found a job. Even after those difficult challenges, in which she bore rejection after rejection, she still managed to find a place where people could enjoy her voice and zesty personality! But a record contract did not loom, especially after she was told she needed years of music experience before she'd be ready for recording. She didn't care - she just kept writing song after song after song!

    Life, however, changed dramatically with the breakout of WWII, and Velva Jean's brother, Johny Clay, introduces her to a flying lesson that changes her passion forever. She goes on to become a female pilot and joins a select group of women flyers carrying out secret but no less dangerous missions within America. Here the story mixes her increasing love of flying, desire to do more for the war effort, and the horror she experiences as tragedy after tragedy happen to those she loves and others she doesn't know. Some die by attack but some are killed because of human mistakes; the latter are just as devastating and Velva Jean is responsible for bringing it to the attention of those who should be doing something about it.

    There is much more day-by-day description of what an amazing woman Velva Jean and other women flyers like her become. It's a quick, shocking way to grow up but this plot is filled with humor and persistent dedication, the essence of Velva Jean's personality.

    This novel has some very slow parts but does evolve into a funny, interesting and wonderful historical fiction piece that elevates the place of women in a time when they were expected to stay home and sew for the war effort. It includes as well the respect these women flyers known as the WAFS or Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Jennifer has depicted a slice of life in the war that few Americans know about, and Velva Jean Hart is an unforgettable, spunky gal who stands for the best women contributing to the war effort at that time! Nicely done, Ms. Niven!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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