It is my singular honor to write about my favorite book series! Why write about my favorite book series, you ask? Because Jennifer Niven’s American Blonde, the last book of this four part series, is coming out tomorrow!
Velva Jean is the main protagonist of American Blonde, and her story begins in her debut novel Velva Jean Learns To Drive — which begins when Velva Jean is ten-years-old and ends when she is eighteen. Velva Jean grows up in the mountains of North Carolina during the Great Depression. In this first book, we learn that Velva Jean’s greatest dream is to be a famous singer and perform at the Grand Ole Opry. From the time she is ten until she is eighteen, she overcomes many personal struggles and societal norms that hold her back from her dream. She learns about her family, her community, and herself when she grows to find the courage to leave her home, work towards her dreams, and “live out there.”
After the first book, Velva Jean is all grown up and continues her journey in her second novel: Velva Jean Learns To Fly. Velva Jean is eighteen-years-old and doing all that she can to become a famous singer just like she’s always wanted; but then, WWII starts. During WWII, citizens all across the nation, including Velva Jean, drastically changed their lives to help with the war effort. She learns to fly a plane and joins the Women Air-force Service Pilots (WASP), which was an actual core during WWII. Velva Jean has to overcome societal norms and prejudices against her and her friends because of the fact that she is a woman. Many of the events and travesties that occur in the book are based off of true events that happened during that time, as told by living members of WASP. Towards the end of Velva Jean Learns To Fly, Velva Jean finds herself in England while serving as a WASP. She finds out that her brother has gone missing in action, and she makes it her secret mission to find him.
This is where the third Velva Jean novel begins. Becoming Clementine is the story of Velva Jean’s time in WWII France and how she becomes a spy. Code name: Clementine. While Velva Jean wants to help her country and find her brother, she learns the ways and dangers of being a spy and questions who she is, afraid of losing herself in her secret identity.
When the war is over, Velva Jean returns to America as a hero, having saved her brother’s life and many others. This is what leads us to the upcoming novel American Blonde. Now that Velva Jean is a war hero, Hollywood wants to get their hands on her, and Velva Jean is thrown into the glamorous but distorted Hollywood scene. While the movie star life can be fun, it’s not for Velva Jean at all. She learns what kind of scandals really go on behind the scenes and soon finds herself investigating a murder. Throughout all of the books, Velva Jean struggles to find her true self, but by the time American Blonde ends, she knows where she is meant to be.
Personally, I find Velva Jean to be a truly inspiring and relatable character. I have been fortunate enough to be involved with Velva Jean’s story and help write her songs that are featured in the book. Velva Jean is an independent, courageous character that can be a great influence on everyone. Her story shows how we should all live for right now and take chances, and if we have big dreams and goals, we can reach them — even if it takes some time.
So, if you’re looking for new books to read, definitely pick up American Blonde on July 29 or any of the Velva Jean books to prep for it. Each book is filled with adventure and emotional roller coasters, and I highly encourage everyone to read them. The best part is that every book can stand alone, each an intriguing story in its own right. When you do get your own copy of American Blonde, be on the lookout for a cameo from yours truly!