Some suggested questions for group discussion:

  1. Velva Jean Learns to Fly both opens and closes with Velva Jean setting off on a new adventure. What do you make of that, and what do you think it says about Velva Jean's character? How is her character portrayed in other parts of the novel?

  2. When Velva Jean is on the road to Nashville, her yellow truck gets a flat tire. A couple offers to assist her, but she insists on fixing the tire herself. Why do you think she refuses the couple's help? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt strongly about getting along on your own? What is it about Velva Jean's journey thus far that makes her feel like this is something she needs to take care of?

  3. Consider the ways in which Velva Jean's aspirations change and develop throughout the book. Do you still foresee a singing career for her? Does she? What role does music play in her life throughout the novel?

  4. At a certain point during her stay in Nashville, Velva Jean starts to have trouble writing songs. What frees her up to write again? Why do you think that is?

  5. Before leaving for Sweetwater, Velva Jean returns home to Fair Mountain. She notes at one point that she "was worried that somehow [Harley] might still have a hold on me, just like he always had." Can you understand her concern? What do you think of her relationship with Harley? Do you feel any sympathy for him?

  6. What is Velva Jean's relationship with Ty like? Were you surprised by how it progressed? What does Ty represent to Velva Jean? Do you think this relationship changed her at all? If so, in what ways?

  7. Faith plays a central role in the novel. How does Velva Jean's faith affect her actions throughout the story? What effect does it have on her feelings about Harley and her divorce? How does faith affect some of the other characters in the novel?

  8. What were your initial impressions of Jackie Cochran? How did they change throughout the course of the book? Did you agree with her reasoning for sending Velva Jean and Helen to fly the B-29? Do you believe that she did all she could do for the WASP? It's very important to her to find opportunities to prove that women pilots are just as capable, if not more so, than men. Do you think she succeeds in demonstrating this? Is she able to change the atmosphere at Camp Davis at all?

  9. The men at Camp Davis are, for the most part, hostile to Velva Jean and Sally and the other WASP. What effect does this have on the women? Why do you think the men behave this way? Are they simply threatened, or is there something more to it?

  10. What about the way Native Americans are treated at Camp Davis? Does the atmosphere affect Butch differently than it does Velva Jean? How does each respond to it?

  11. In what ways is this a novel about friendship and camaraderie among women? How do Sally, Loma, Mudge, Paula and Velva Jean all support one another? What about Velva Jean and Gossie's relationship? Do you detect any pettiness or even competition among the WASP? If so, why do you think it exists?

  12. Bob Keene is initially friendly toward Velva Jean, but his attitude toward her quickly changes. Why do you think this is? How does Velva Jean feel about him? How does she respond to the news of his death?

  13. Velva Jean refers to Butch Dawkins as a "haint" several times. What do you think she means by this? What is it about Butch that lends itself to this characterization? Describe the relationship between Butch and Velva Jean. They're clearly strongly attracted to each other, but do you see their relationship progressing beyond that? Why or why not?

  14. Consider Velva Jean's relationship with her family. What role do they play in her life? She and Johnny Clay are particularly close -- why do you think that is? What is their relationship like?

  15. How does Velva Jean's voice come through in the novel? What techniques does the author use to give you a sense of Velva Jean's personality? Do you think it's effective?

  16. Consider the close of the novel. How is Velva Jean feeling about what she's doing and about the WASP program? Is the end of the book hopeful? Why or why not?