Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer is a page turner set in 1917. I loved learning more about this time frame and how things were done. It doesn't seem that long ago, but once you start reading, you realize how different things really were.
Lula Bowman's dream is finally coming to pass. She won a scholarship to finish her graduate degree and a teaching position at the college. Finally, she could put her old nickname "Fruity Lu" to rest and make her father proud of her at the same time. But when she gets a call from her sister, Jewel, everything changes. Forced to leave her dream position to help her sister, Lula reluctantly goes back to Dunn, Oklahoma and finds a job as the high school music teacher and girl's basketball coach. She has no idea how to play basketball and is in way over her head, but her sister's family needs the extra income. All her old insecurities and fears come flooding back as each new responsibility seems to bring certain failure. Will she always be looked at as Fruity Lu or can she prove them wrong once and for all?
Chet is a math teacher and the boy's basketball coach at the high school. He's never been attracted to any woman before until he meets Lula. But the school has a strict policy for their women teachers not to date, and he doesn't want her to lose her job. How can they get to know each other better especially since Lula has no interest in him?
I really enjoyed this book. I flew through it and can't wait to read more from this author. I especially enjoyed the facts about basketball! It's not the same game anymore, and I was kind of confused at first. haha The characters were the best part of the story, of course. They were realistic and had lots of depth. Plus, there were a lot of side lines going on in the story just like in real life. Such a wonderful take on life in the States during WWI. I like how the author kept it real and didn't try to make an unrealistic happy ending.
I was given this book free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
Here are a couple sites to check out about the author. :-)