Review: Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

September 30, 2014

Title: Playing by Heart
Author: Anne Mateer
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1065-5
Publication Date: September 16th, 2014

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.
This is the first book by Anne Mateer I've read, even though I have a couple of her books sitting on my TBR shelf as I type, and I have to say, it was a cute story. The cover threw me off of what the story would be about. When I was thinking of Playing by Heart and saw the piano, I assumed musically, instead it was more about playing basketball, which was very interesting to read about, especially the beginning of the sport.

Lula was a girl who was driven. She was driven to to succeed and not let her past hinder her future. In her past, she was a bit flighty. She believed if she acted as her older sister Jewel did, then she would have the best life, because it was fun. However, her flightiness followed her and it made people see her as a girl who wasn't one to rely on or one to stick to anything...and that wasn't who she was. Following in her sister's foot steps wasn't her. In-spite of her siblings ragging on her and berating her at every turn, she put down the care free attitude and put her nose in a book and just blossomed as a math whiz. Her dad and Jewel were her only supports. The thrived under their care. That life away from family and her old home town come crashing around her when her sister suffers a massive loss.

Lula has many battles in her old home town. She is viewed as someone who will never finish, a girl who is going against the norms and refusing to marry, only good for teaching music. The list could go on. She faces battles and it's hard to watch, but she pushes through. She is determined to prove everyone wrong.

Chet was a good solid guy. Like Lula, he has a past he needs to live down...but the past he has to overcome isn't his own, but his dad's. He also battles his mother's negative opinions of him as he tries to do what is right for him, but the barrage is a lot to face at times, but he handles it well.

Chet and Lula each have much over come in this story. They also are a good balance for each other. I enjoyed how they both teach math and enjoy it. Chet loves basketball and is willing to help Lula when the girl's team is handed to her and she has no idea what she is doing, but through their friendship, she learns and grows to enjoy the game.

This was a sweet story and I enjoyed the ending...I won't say more then that, other then, I enjoy reading about characters who compliment each other and encourage dreams to continue.

Too Read
4 out of 5
About the Author:
Anne Mateer is a three-time Genesis Contest finalist who has long had a passion for history and historical fiction. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults.

Visit for more information.

Thank you to Bethany House, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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