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 novelis 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."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 111.
- Review Date: 2009-06-29
- Reviewer: Staff
Niven makes some memorable moonspun magic in her rich fiction debut (after two nonfiction books) about 10-year-old Velva Jean Hart, a North Carolina kid determined to drive and sing at the Grand Ole Opry. After Velva Jean is born again, her daddy leaves and her mother falls ill, and not even Velva's bargaining with God can save her. Her brother, Johnny Clay, is some comfort, but Velva Jean grows up fast after promising her dying mother to heal people with her singing. At 16, Velva marries charismatic Rev. Harley Bright, a moonshiner's son, railroad fireman and part-time evangelist who later resolves to become a full-time preacher. But Velva Jean's independent streak (she wants to learn to drive), her singing (which sounds sinful to Harley's ear) and her friendship with a half-Choctaw, half-Creole blues musician fire up Harley's controlling jealousy. 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. (Aug.)