Journal

Review: Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

Unique settings make for stand out novels, and Anne Mateer’s novels are no exception. This is the third novel of the four that are published that I have read. The first one incorporated a woman who wanted to fly. The second, a female protagonist destined for auto racing. This novel places her heroine as the coach of girl’s team for the growing sport of basketball. 

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**I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review**

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything. 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. Lula doesn’t even consider those real subjects! Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys’ coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She’s returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet. However, the more time she spends around Jewel’s family, the girls’ basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she’s given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she’d expected.

From characters, to tension, to strong themes, Anne Mateer’s novel, Playing by Heart, will probably be one of my favorites. With The Great War looming in the background, spunky and determine Lula Bowman is trying to make a new name for herself and remain entrenched in the manly field of mathematics. But feeling her sister’s needs, she takes a step away from her plans to help out with her sister’s family which brings her back to her hometown and a reputation she didn’t want to be remembered for.

Chet Vaughn is also trying to stay away from parts of his past. Constantly feeling like a failure to his mother, he feels that it is his responsibility to stay home to take care of her while most of the other men in town, including his own brother, are enlisting.

Between Lula’s determination to get back to the plan she set out for herself and Chet feeling strongly about doing the right thing, they get tangled up in their feelings for one another and their dreams crumble before them. At this point, the strongest theme of the novel shines: that often, God has something bigger and better in mind.

The main characters were quite well developed, and the story kept moving. I had a constant need to know what would happen next. If you like a novel with a unique setting and authentic characters, this would be a great book to add to your bookshelf.

I would love to hear from you! What novels have you read that put characters in unique situations?

For more on the author or this book, please check out the following links:

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2 thoughts on “Review: Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

  1. One of the last books I’ve read was Bride Backfire. It was one of the most outrageous (and not in a bad way!) situations I’ve seen in a book. With the backdrop of two feuding families, our hero, Adam, finds himself surrounded by 3 trigger happy men. His life is almost over when, to his surprise, the daughter of this enemy family steps in front of him and claims him as her baby’s father. The two are immediately wed, but both know that he isn’t the father….in fact, she isn’t even pregnant. And this is only the beginning. 🙂
    Saying, “outrageous situation” brings to mind another great book. I just wish I could remember what it was….

    Like

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