Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Playing by Heart - Anne Mateer
Lula Bowman, formerly known by friends and family as Fruity Lu for her flightiness, has not only settled down but is pursuing a path to become the first female in Oklahoma with a PhD in mathematics. She enjoys math and teaching, but she also desperately wants her father's approval for such pursuit, and she wants her family to take her seriously. But when her brother-in-law dies suddenly, and her sister is left with four kids to raise, her family tells Lula that she is the only one who can put her life aside to come to Jewel's aid. Can Lula put aside not only her dreams, but her father's? Can she be taken seriously as a music teacher and, of all things, as a girls' basketball coach when she knows nothing of the new sport? Can she put aside her own ambitions and listen to God's calling to serve her family?
The decision between one's own responsibilities and a family's needs is never an easy one; and this book did not make light of Lula's choice. She struggled with her own need to be taken seriously, and delighting her father who had only noticed her when she chose an academic path. Yet, her compassionate heart couldn't leave her sister stranded and she felt the weight of all Jewel had done for her when her mother died. Even as she made the decision, however, life didn't suddenly fall into place and get easier. There were continual choices to make and consequences to either decision.
I found the basketball storyline amusing - it's hard to imagine the start of the sport where girls were not to cross beyond their sections of the court, so as to not cause them "strenuous physical exertion." A time where coaches were not allowed to speak to their team during the game, and where there were 6 girls to a side. But it was interesting to see Lula throw herself into learning the game, at least the academics of it, and watch her realize that, much like her music, she couldn't truly understand or enjoy it until she let her heart and passion get involved.
There were many strong points to this story - Lula's conflict of career and family, her struggle between academics and passion, and her turmoil over her job's code of conduct, and the direction her heart pulled her. While definitely a romance, this book had several deeper themes to give the reader things to think about beyond its pages.
I give this book 3.5 stars.
You can find a copy of Playing by Heart HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.