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.
Author of the New York Times bestsellers All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe

Indie Pick for the Indie Next List—“Great Reads from Booksellers You Trust”

Praise for Jennifer Niven’s Velva Jean series:

“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)
 
“In this story Jennifer Niven creates a world long gone, a mountain past where people suffer failure, loss, and betrayal, as well as the strength and joy of connection and deep love. Velva Jean Learns to Drive takes us far into this soaring, emotional country, the place where our best music comes from.”—Robert Morgan, bestselling author of The Road from Gap Creek and Gap Creek
 
“A fluid storyteller.”—Wall Street Journal
 
“Velva Jean learns to...not only drive, but to soar. This beautifully written coming-of-age story captivated me, and I recommend it to anyone who has ever longed to ‘live out there.’”—Ann B. Ross, author of the bestselling Miss Julia novels
 
“Spirited.”—Parade

“If [Niven] continues to create female characters as strong, as fallible and as appealing as Velva Jean, she has a grand career ahead of her.”—Wilmington Star News

“Velva Jean makes a charming, bright-eyed narrator (bringing to mind that other delightful young rural protagonist: Scout of To Kill a Mockingbird).”—The Christian Science Monitor

“The novel takes hold of your imagination and refuses to let go—even long after you've read the last page.”—Costco (Pennie’s Book Pick of the Month)