Playing By Heart  -     By: Anne Mateer
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Playing By Heart

Bethany House / 2014 / Paperback

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Product Description

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.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0764210653
ISBN-13: 9780764210655
Availability: Available to ship on or about 08/30/15.
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Publisher's Description

"Mateer's turn-of-the-century story is full of characters who will touch your heart."--RT Book Reviews



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.

Author Bio

Anne Mateer has a passion for history and historical fiction, and her vacations often revolve around research trips in different parts of the country. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults. Learn more at Anne's website and blog at www.annemateer.com.

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  1. An Old Fashioned Girl
    Minnesota
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    An inspiring tale of the American Homefront in WWI
    August 5, 2014
    An Old Fashioned Girl
    Minnesota
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Set on the Homefront of World War One, Anne Mateer's novel captures the changing times in a fascinating story. Putting her old reputation of flightiness behind her, Lula Bowman is on track for a PhD in mathematics, with the help of a prestigious scholarship and a job teaching college math. However, a tragedy calls her back to her hometown to help her sister, and she is trapped into staying the rest of the school year with no other recourse but to accept jobs as a music teacher, girls' basketball coach, and church pianist - a far fall for an academic scholar. The boys' basketball coach, Chet Vaughn, finds himself for the first time not running away from a single, young female, but the proud woman is hard to reach, in spite of her desperate need for his help in coaching basketball. One of the few single young men remaining in the town, Chet's obligations have kept him from enlisting and fighting in the Great War, and he wonders if God doesn't have a bigger plan for him here than he expected. The question is, is Lula part of that plan, or will she return to college like she wants when the school year is up?

    Written in an uncommon style, the story is told entirely in first person, but the viewpoint trades back and forth between Lula and Chet. I was surprised when the viewpoint switched over in the second chapter, though not confused since the change is denoted in the chapter headings. I like how the style makes the characters' feelings more personal, and it offers a pleasant change from the more traditional points of view.

    Family dynamics and family dysfunction, grief and loss, healing, chasing dreams - all play a role in this deep novel, molding together in a rich story without overwhelming the reader. Neither Lula nor Chet is perfect, and like in real life, their lives are hardly ideal. An afterthought in a large family, Lula feels she will never grow up in the eyes of her older siblings, and by their standards she can never do anything right. Chet's father died in scandal years ago, and his mother has long favored his brother over him. Both Lula and Chet have chosen an unconventional path, and in that similarity they form a connection.

    Lula has fallen into the trap of seeking the approval of man - her only remaining parent - over God, inadvertently building a house on sand instead of the solid rock. New dreams, designed to capture her father's heart and approval, shoved aside the old dreams that her mother had encouraged. Now back in her hometown, Lula is forced to confront what she left behind years ago and, more importantly, to face that the foundation she built is crumbling.

    With such a wealth of inspiration in this story, it was hard to choose just a few topics to write about. It was fun to discover that this story has a basis in the author's family history - that a grandmother really did get stuck coaching basketball with almost no knowledge of the game. This is the first book that I have read by Anne Mateer, and I am impressed by her solid work. 5 out of 5 stars!

    Thank you Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free e-copy for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
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