Friday, August 7, 2009

Learning to Drive

I am the parent of two teenagers learning to drive. The youngest has had two broken bones and needed stitches from three separate biking accidents. Last month he flipped a jet ski and last week he was run over by a skid loader (which explains my absence from the store on Thursday afternoon). This is a kid I’m supposed to hand over the car keys too?!?

It is no wonder I assumed Velva Jean Learns to Drive would be a horror story. Which is why I shifted it to the bottom of my to read pile numerous times. I have nothing against a good horror, I just prefer the kind that aren’t quit so realistic. Truth be told, if it weren’t for an email or two from Laurie, an associate publicist at Plume (Thanks, Laurie!!) I probably would have put off reading this novel by Jennifer Niven indefinitely.

In reality, there is little about Velva Jean Hart that resembles my son other than the fact that they both have big dreams (my son to survive the summer, Velva Jean to become a big-time singer in Nashville). Growing up in the 1930’s, Velva Jean held on to that dream until, as a teenager, a more practical dream, to fall in love, becomes a reality. Can she have it all – be a singing star at the Grand Ole Opry and be the obliging wife Harley Bright, a bad boy turned preacher, expects her to be?

This first novel of Jennifer Niven gave me new insight into what learning to drive really means, both literally and figuratively. There may be some terrifying moments along the way, a few injuries, a fender bender or two, but it also opens up a whole new world. It’s about getting behind the wheel and taking control. Now I look forward to sitting in the passenger seat with my son and being involved in this one small way as he discovers how to live out there.