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Becoming Clementine: A Novel Paperback – September 25, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 351 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; 1 Original edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452298105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452298101
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Becoming Clementine:
“Unforgettable and heartfelt.”
Pam Jenoff, bestselling author of The Kommandant's Girl and The Diplomat's Wife
“A page-turner of a story.”
—James Earl Jones, Tony Award-winning and Emmy Award-winning actor
“An unforgettable tale of love, sacrifice, courage and compassion that will resonate with readers long after they finish the book.”
Chicago Tribune
“A spell-binding spy saga.”
—Elizabeth P. McIntosh, OSS/CIA, and author of Sisterhood of Spies
“A heart-stopping tale of wartime intrigue, romance and high adventure.”
Romantic Times (A Top Pick)
“It's all here—intrigue, romance, heroism. A terrifically absorbing read.”
—Will Irwin, author of The Jedburghs and Abundance of Valor
“Richly textured, historically evocative, emotionally mesmerizing, Becoming Clementine takes you on a journey so gripping you can smell the gun smoke.”
Kerry Reichs, author of What You Wish For and Leaving Unknown

Praise for Velva Jean Learns to Fly

Featured on Los Angeles Magazine's "To Read" list for August 2011Named the September Read of the Month by the Southern Literary Review

“An endearing portrait of a young woman with a big heart—Velva Jean Learns to Fly illuminates the power of going after a dream and the courage it takes to never let go." —Beth Hoffman, bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

“Velva Jean Hart is a heroine with grit, grace, determination, and enough humanity to hook readers with ferocious tenderness, making them want to find and befriend her. Besides creating a gutsy heroine, who, despite the repressive times, never becomes bitter, Niven's writing shines overall. Cheers to Niven, Velva Jean, and the two further books of her remarkable story to come in 2012 and 2013.” —Booklist, starred review

“Velva Jean’s story delves into the contributions made by amazing women during World War II and tells a compassionate story about adventure, love, and war. This is a wonderful book—very hard to put down.” —Ann Howard Creel, author of The Magic of Ordinary Days

“Readers who enjoy Fannie Flagg and other down-home Southern writers will be entertained by this saucy adventure sprinkled with a gamut of human emotions.” —Library Journal“A tasteful blend of comedy, inspiration, and endurance…. filled with love, despair, and life-threatening adventures. Niven delivers another tale full of hope, heartbreak, and nostalgia in this sequel to Velva Jean Learns to Drive.” —Publishers Weekly

“I devoured Velva Jean Learns to Fly and immediately began spreading the word: This one is not to be missed!"—Cassandra King, author of The Same Sweet Girls

“For any who have ever chased a dream, for any who have ever risked it all, for any who have ever stumbled and risen and brushed the grit from their palms, for any who have ever grieved and mended, fallen in and out of love, wished to fly and then flown, there is Velva Jean, the fearless, wide-eyed, big-hearted heroine of Jennifer Niven’s second novel, a sweeping adventure that takes the reader from the streets of Nashville to the belly of a WWII bomber.” —Benjamin Percy, award-winning author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

“A very special World War II novel…. Jennifer Niven’s ongoing portrayal of this totally engaging young woman set within a stunning vision of the American South during WWII is a major achievement. The explorations of the Nashville music industry and the WASP initiative are rich in evocative detail.” —Southern Literary Review

“In this fun, fast-paced, heartwarming sequel to Velva Jean Learns to Drive, we follow the beloved young heroine from her mountain home to Nashville. But soon after Pearl Harbor is attacked, Velva Jean begins singing a new song—one full of patriotism, courage, and feisty independence. The perfect read for any girl of any age who yearns to soar beyond her dreams." —Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove and Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

“I loved Velva Jean Learns to Drive, but I love the sequel even more. Niven’s gift for place, space, and character made me feel the heat and dust in Texas and the fear Velva Jean felt at the North Carolina base and the determination she had to prove herself.” —Historical Novels Review

“God Bless Southern women, their dreams, energy, and courage. Jennifer Niven and her heroine Velva Jean have those in spades.” —Beth Grant, award-winning actress from Little Miss Sunshine and No Country for Old Men

“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!” —American Library Association

“Who would have thought that a young woman’s adventures in World War II would capture my attention—and keep it? Velva Jean pulled me into her story and wouldn’t let me go, from her comical and sometimes humiliating trip to Nashville, the city of her dreams, to the first time she grabs the throttle of a plane and soars. We see her get her wings and fly through wartime danger, intrigue, suspense, and even sabotage. This gripping, heartwarming action-adventure tale stays with you long after you turn the last page.” —James Earl Jones, Tony Award–winning, Emmy Award–winning actor

“Funny [and] touching.” —Wilmington Star News

“Putting this one down is a near impossibility. The descriptions of the work, the prejudice, fear, and bittersweet success of becoming a female pilot seemed so real I felt as if I were sharing every step with Velva Jean.” —Nancy E. Turner, award-winning author of These Is My Words

“From the ballads of the Grand Ole Opry to the magnificent women of Avenger Field, Jennifer Niven spins a tall tale that is utterly heartfelt and rings true.” —Sherri L. Smith, author of Flygirl

Praise for Velva Jean Learns to Drive

“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 moonspun 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, author of 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

About the Author

JENNIFER NIVEN's first book, The Ice Master, was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of the year by Entertainment Weekly. Her second book, Ada Blackjack, was a Book Sense Top Ten Pick. Her memoir, The Aqua Net Diaries, was optioned by Warner Bros.  Her bestselling debut novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, was followed by the sequel Velva Jean Learns to Fly.  Her novel Becoming Clementine will be released in September.  She lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

I just finished a barn-burner of a book.
Barbara A Klein
I am totally hooked on this series, and I can't wait until the next book comes out.
Diana Curtis
If you have not had a chance to read these, I highly recommend them.
D. Snyder

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tara VINE VOICE on November 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Absolutely loved book two, Velva Jean Learns to Fly and so was super excited about this. So excited I broke my price rule and spent 9.99 on the Kindle edition.

But...if you're expecting lots of flying, you'll be disappointed. The story starts with her landing in England, then she crashes a plane and later steals a plane, but most of the book is her acting like a spy. I say "acting" cause really, she doesn't any real spying. I'll get to that.

She crashes in France, which in under the Germans so she's in enemy territory. Still searching for her brother, she insists on joining the resistance. She's mighty brave. I still love her. She ends up in Paris and has all these Resistance friends, even a French lover, but despite being surrounded by these people and making big plans, she does nothing.

She wears fancy lipstick, eats a map, PLANS to save a girl from prison, but gets arrested herself, wears knife bobby pins, but really, never once does she deliver pertinent information to anyone, just runs around with the Resistance. She can't even take credit for saving the girl in the end, because she didn't bomb the train and Eleanor is capable of escaping herself.

It's isn't until the very end of the book that Velva Jean aka Clementine does something worthwhile. Though I must give her credit for not caving under interrogation.

The beginning and ending was great, but the middle really dragged for me. As I said, she just runs around with these important people and spends time in prison.

So compared to Learns to Fly, it didn't wow me. But then again, that was more up my alley as I love aviation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Soft Reader on September 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Jennifer Niven has done it again. I've been fallowing her Velva Jean series for years now and I always think the most recent book is the best but I'm always mistaken when the another book is released. This is not only a series that is realistic but it makes me proud to be a woman. I'm so glad Jennifer is continuing this series and I truly hope I can look forward to another three books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Swan on September 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm a Velva Jean follower and her first two adventures were amazing, and so filled with emotion! In Becoming Clementine, we find Velva Jean in France WWII, her experience working with the resistance is entrancing, I constantly kept reading because I needed to know what happened next!! Niven once again took me on an emotional roller coaster, this book adds so much to the series but stands strongly on its own !!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janice Petritz on May 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Becoming Clementine is just a little too farfetched for me. For one thing, Velva Jean Hart goes from one scene to the next in situations that seemed unrealistic and dangerous, but always seems to come through unscathed. Women flying a military plane in the war just didn't seem to fit historically.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barbara A Klein on November 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Wow! I just finished a barn-burner of a book. "Becoming Clementine" by Jennifer Niven is a wonderful book set in England and France during World War II during the summer of 1944. It's the story of a WASP (Women Air-Force Service Pilots), Velva Jean Hart who ferried a B-17 Flying fortress to Britain from The United States. Her other mission is her own. Her brother Johnny Clay Hart is supposed to be in Britain and she is bound and determined to find him. So that she can stay in Britain, she volunteers to copilot a plane carrying special agents to a drop in France. However their plane is shot down. She and five agents survive the crash, but are behind enemy lines. Velva Jean is then taken into the counterintelligence unit and changes her name to Clementine. Their mission is to capture an operative working in France. Velva Jean not only changes her name to Clementine, she becomes Clementine. After a harrowing journey into Paris and moving from one safe house to another, she is eventually captured by the Germans and put into prison. I am fascinated by any story with a WWII background, so I looked forward to reading this book. I think it's probably the best book I've read with this wartime background. I almost sat on the edge of my seat reading this because it is full of suspense and downright fear. I don't know how any of these courageous people did their jobs during that war. There was danger everywhere; you could trust no one and you had no idea where you could find safe shelter. You will love this book if you like wartime dramas.

I received a free print copy of this book for my honest review from the publisher. The opinions expressed here are my own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Ascher on January 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are willing to edit as you go there is a great adventure hidden in these pages. First you need to pull out and rewrite the actions that are highly improbable or impossible. As when Velva Jean is being strangled by a German officer and she is able to reach into her purse, remove an atomiser filled with nerve gas, and spray it into his face to subdue him. Or when the life of one of her compatriots is saved when a bullet striking him in the heart is stopped by a tiny compass he has borrowed from Velva. Or when she is able to remove a hair pin from her hair, reach through the opening in a rail car and pick the lock. Or when she is able to remove a piece of explosive gum, stick it on a lock, then back up a safe distance and throw a rock at it, causing an explosion that opens the lock. Or when she communicates through the water pipes of a prison by talking to people in other cells. Or when she meets a friend in occupied Paris wearing her WAC uniform publicly on the streets in plain view of Germans. Or when German SS officers are portrayed as having handcuffs which they never had/used. I won't even bother to go into exploits flying planes low on gas, having taken heavy fire, through enemy aircraft and over the English Channel landing without benefit of wheels. I know, this is really a comic book. But other parts are very real and involve death, dying fighting for a cause which come off as very realistic. Finally, the ending which goes on about an extra 40 pages where she throws in everything left from her research, notes, that she had nowhere else to place. A good editor could have helped. Without one, you need to do the editing for her.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Jennifer Niven lives in Los Angeles (where her film Velva Jean Learns to Drive won an Emmy Award). Even though she's always wanted to be a Charlie's Angel, her true passion is writing, and her first book, The Ice Master, was released in November 2000 and named one of the top ten nonfiction books of the year by Entertainment Weekly. She a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer, and the book has been translated into eight languages, including German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Danish, and Icelandic.

Jennifer and The Ice Master have appeared in Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Talk, Glamour, The New Yorker, Outside, The New York Times Book Review, The London Daily Mail, The London Times, and Writer's Digest, among others. Dateline NBC, the Discovery Channel, and the History Channel have featured The Ice Master and Jennifer in hour-long documentaries, she and the book have appeared frequently on the BBC, and the book has been the subject of numerous German, Canadian, and British television documentaries. The Ice Master has been nominated for awards by the American Library Association and Book Sense, and received Italy's esteemed Gambrinus Giuseppe Mazzotti Prize for 2002.

Jennifer's second book, Ada Blackjack -- an inspiring true story of the woman the press called "the female Robinson Crusoe" -- has been translated into Chinese, French, and Estonian, was a Book Sense Top Ten Pick, and was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the Top Five Arctic books.

Her memoir, The Aqua-Net Diaries: Big Hair, Big Dreams, Small Town, was published in February 2010 by Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, and was optioned by Warner Bros. as a television series.

Her first novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive (based on the Emmy Award-winning film of the same name), was released July 2009 by Penguin/Plume. It was an Indie Pick for the August 2009 Indie Next List and was also a Costco Book of the Month. The second book in the Velva Jean series, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, was released by Penguin/Plume in August 2011, and the third book in the series, Becoming Clementine, was published in September 2012. The fourth Velva Jean novel, American Blonde, is available now.

Jennifer's first novel for young adult readers. All the Bright Places, will debut from Knopf/Random House January 6, 2015. The book tells the story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die, the foreign rights have already sold to twenty-eight territories, and the movie rights have been optioned with Elle Fanning attached to star. All the Bright Places was also named the #1 title on the Winter 2014-2015 Kids' Indie Next List. As a companion to the book, Jennifer has created Germ (, a web magazine for and run by girls (and boys) -- high school and beyond -- that celebrates beginnings, futures, and all the amazing and agonizing moments in between.

With her mother, author Penelope Niven (, Jennifer has conducted numerous seminars in writing and addressed audiences around the world.

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Becoming Clementine: A Novel
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