Playing by Heart
by Anne Mateer (Goodreads Author)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.
My Review: 6/10
I really enjoyed much of this book. My favorite part was the humanity of Lula. As the oldest in my family, I couldn't immediately relate, but before long, my heart was twisting right along with Lula's as she worked herself to the bone trying to earn the respect of those who should have been her biggest cheerleaders and supporters. I guess a lot of it was the age difference and the time period, but it was still so hard to swallow.
Lula had no easy choices and I really appreciated her growth as she struggled to let God's love and direction be enough, trading the temporary for the eternal.
Though I wasn't clear on the exact time period for most of the book, I loved the historical aspects. At first I thought the tornado was too melodramatic, and then I did a little research and read about the tornadoes that touched down during World War I. Fascinating. The author clearly did a lot of research and found natural ways to have the information sprinkled throughout the pages. She did a great job of staying consistent to the time and attitudes.
The things I didn't like about the book were just specific to my own tastes; I didn't like Jewel's romance. It was obvious, but more than that, I just couldn't picture it myself. While being pregnant with her deceased husband's child, she starts a romance with his best friend, just months after laying him to rest? I realize that, especially for the time, this kind of thing was much more necessary and common, but it just didn't appeal to my steadfast personality. Not at all.
I thought the end was kind of abrupt too. I'm glad that the author didn't write Chet a loophole to get out of the commitment he made, but I was surprised that it pretty much cut to epilogue right after; I'd have liked to hear a little more about his experiences there. Their's is a story that might make a good sequel- seeing the shape Lula's life continues to take and experiencing Chet's maturity and growth as he experiences war himself and learns that it has little to do with glory. The family dynamics could be fleshed out even more, in both Lula's and Chet's families. Blaze and Nannie would make a good substory. So much potential.