Playing By Heart by Anne Mateer
Review copy provide by Bethany House in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating:
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This was a heart tugging story put forth by Anne Mateer and her passion for telling this particular story shone through every page. It's a blend of faith and romance during the scary times of the Great War where boys striving to be men enlisted to make their families proud. An era where strict rules among the social classes existed, and fraternizing with the opposite sex would cost you your career.
Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.
After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!
Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.
However, the more time she spends in Dunn, the more Lula realizes God is working on her heart--and her future is beginning to look a lot different than she'd expected.
The main characters of Lula and Chet were told in an alternating first person narrative which only took me a few turns to get accustomed to. Perhaps it was this first person narration that helped endear me to them and made me feel much more empathetic towards them both. Lula was both intelligent and independent but willing to give up everything she ever dreamed of in order to be near her sister during difficult times, and Chet was also making his own personal sacrifices for his family even while others misunderstood his intentions.
They work together and become close which causes envy among their peers, yet their entire courtship was a charming story to read as they opened up about their emotions and their individual passions. I especially enjoyed the development of the supporting characters and their families, and I would love to see a sequel to see what happens next for Chet and Lula.
Playing By Heart is a very inspirational story featuring music, basketball, coaching and the war efforts which was put together very well into a solid piece of Christian historical fiction which I recommend to any reader of the genre. Thanks to Anne Mateer and Bethany House for providing us with another great inspirational novel!