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My Books

I've written nonfiction and fiction, both historical and contemporary. At first glance, my books are all over the map, but if you look closely they share a common theme: they are stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

 

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might die, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground—it's unclear who saves whom. And when the unlikely pair teams up on a class project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, they go, as Finch says, where the road takes them: the grand, the small, the bizarre, the beautiful, the ugly, the surprising—just like life.

Soon it's only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a bold, funny, live-out-loud guy, who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet forgets to count away the days and starts living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

This is a heart-wrenching, unflinching story of love shared, life lived, and two teens who find one another while standing on the edge.

 

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A fearless and spirited pilot conquers Hollywood. Now can she survive movie stardom?

In 1945, Velva Jean Hart is a bona fide war heroine. After a newsreel films her triumphant return to America, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promises to make her a star. They give her a new life story and a brand new name. As "Kit Rogers," she navigates the movie sets, recording sessions, parties, staged romances, and occasional backstabbing that accompany her newfound fame. She also navigates real-life romance, finding herself caught between a charismatic young writer and a sexy and enigmatic musician from her past. But when one of her best friends dies mysteriously and the most powerful studio in the world launches a cover-up, Velva Jean goes in search of the truth — risking her own life, as well as her heart, in the process.

Set during Hollywood's Golden Age and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters, American Blonde will mesmerize readers of The Chaperone as well as fans of the Velva Jean series.

 

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Summer 1944. Paris. A secret mission. A dangerous passion. A spellbinding story you will never forget.

After delivering a B-17 Flying Fortress to Britain, an American WASP (Women's Airforce Service Pilot), volunteers to copilot a plane carrying special agents to their drop spot over Normandy. Her personal mission: to find her brother, who is missing in action. Their plane is shot down, and only she and five agents survive. Now they are on the run for their lives.

As they head to Paris, the beautiful aviatrix, Velva Jean Hart, becomes Clementine Roux, a daring woman on a mission with her team to capture an operative known only as "Swan." Once settled on Rue de la Néva, Clementine works as a spy with the Resistance and finds herself falling in love with her fellow agent, Émile, a handsome and mysterious Frenchman with secrets of his own. When Clementine ends up in the most brutal prison in Paris, trying to help Émile and the team rescue Swan, she discovers the depths of human cruelty, the triumph of her own spirit, and the bravery of her team, who will stop at nothing to carry out their mission.

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Velva Jean Hart, the fiercely independent heroine of Jennifer Niven's debut novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, returns in a captivating adventure that literally sends her soaring. Bridling under the limitations faced by a woman in rural Appalachia and fueled by the memory of her late Mama telling her to "live out there," Velva Jean hits the road to pursue her dream of singing at the Grand Ole Opry. After a string of auditions, she begins to lose hope-until her brother pays her a surprise visit and treats Velva Jean to a flying lesson that ignites a brand new dream: to become a female pilot. After Pearl Harbor, Velva Jean signs up for military service and gets her wings, risking her life-and her heart. Funny, poignant, and utterly unforgettable, Velva Jean Learns to Fly will have fans cheering all over again.

 

 

 

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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.

One Sunday when she is ten years old, Velva Jean Hart is saved. Life soon brings unwelcome changes: her loving mother becomes ill and dies, and her father leaves on one of his "adventures." While Velva Jean's bossy older sister runs the home, Velva Jean consoles herself by singing and finding companionship with Johnny Clay, her rebellious brother; the infamous Wood Carver, who is rumored to have killed a man; and, when she is a beautiful teenager, 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.

 

 

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Jennifer Niven tackles her most harrowing expedition of all: high school. Her first two books, The Ice Master and Ada Blackjack, relayed the tales of deadly and dramatic Arctic adventures, but now she tells a survival tale of a different kind—her own thrilling, excruciating, and utterly unforgettable adventure in a midwestern high school during the 1980s.

Richmond, Indiana, is a place where people know their neighbors and go to church on Sundays. It also has only one high school with 2,500 students, and for many of the students and the townspeople, it is the center of the universe. In The Aqua-Net Diaries, Niven takes readers through her adolescent years in full, glorious—and hilarious—detail, sharing awkward moments from the first day of school to driver's ed to her first love against a backdrop of bad 1980s fashion and big hair. Like Chuck Klosterman in Fargo Rock City, Niven's voice perfectly captures the pain, joy, and shame of going through adolescence in America's heartland, making a funny, touching, and universal experience.



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Ada Blackjack was an unlikely hero - an unskilled 23-year-old Inuit woman with no knowledge of the world outside Nome, Alaska. Divorced, impoverished, and despondent, she had one focus in her life - to care for her sickly young son. In September 1921, in search of money and a husband, she signed on as seamstress for a top-secret expedition into the unknown Arctic.

It was controversial explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson who sent four young men and Ada Blackjack into the far North to desolate, uninhabited Wrangel Island. Only two of the men had set foot in the Arctic before. They took with them six months' worth of supplies on Stefansson's theory that this would be enough to sustain them for a year while they lived off the land itself. But as winter set in, they were struck by hardship and tragedy. As months went by and they began to starve, they were forced to ration their few remaining provisions. When three of the men made a desperate attempt to seek help, Ada was left to care for the fourth, who was too sick to travel. Soon after, she found herself totally alone.

Upon Ada's miraculous return after two years on the island, the international press heralded her as the female Robinson Crusoe. Journalists hunted her down, but she refused to talk to anyone about her harrowing experiences. Only on one occasion — after being accused of a horrible crime she did not commit — did she speak up for herself. All the while, she was tricked and exploited by those who should have been her champions.

Filled with exciting adventure and fascinating history, Ada Blackjack is a gripping and ultimately inspiring tale of a woman who survived a terrible time in the wild only to face a different but equally trying ordeal back in civilization.

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It was to be the greatest and most elaborate Arctic expedition in history, with the largest scientific staff ever taken on such a journey. Its leader, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, was celebrated for his studies of Eskimo life and, with this mission, hoped to find evidence that proved his staunchly held belief that there was a last unexplored continent, hidden beneath the vast polar ice cap.

In June 1913, the H.M.C.S. Karluk set sail from the Esquimalt Naval Yard in Victoria, British Columbia. Six weeks later, the Arctic winter had begun, the ship was imprisoned in ice, and those on board had been abandoned by their leader.

For five months, the Karluk remained frozen in a massive block of ice, drifting farther and farther off course. In January 1914, with a thunderous impact, the ice tore a hole in the vessel's hull, and the redoubtable captain, Robert Bartlett, gave orders to abandon ship.

With nothing but half the ship's store of supplies and the polar ice beneath their feet, Captain Bartlett, twenty-one men, an Inuit woman and her two small daughters, twenty-nine dogs, and one pet cat were now hopelessly shipwrecked in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, hundreds of miles from land. These castaways had no choice but to try to find solid ground where they could wait while they struggled against starvation, snow blindness, a gruesome and mysterious disease, exposure to the brutal winter — and each other.

Bartlett and one member of the party soon set across the ice to seek help. Nine months later, twelve survivors were rescued by a small whaling schooner and brought back to civilization.

The Ice Master is an epic tale of true adventure that rivals the most dramatic fiction. Drawing on the diaries of those who were rescued and those who perished, and even an interview with one living survivor, Jennifer Niven re-creates with astonishing accuracy and immediacy the Karluk's ill-fated journey and her crew's desperate attempts to find a way home from the icy wastes of the Arctic.

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