Playing by Heart
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.
Though I'm not into basketball and the plot detailed on the back of the book didn't immediately snatch my interest, I have enjoyed a couple books by this author before, and as she has a sweet writing style that's simple but pleasant, I decided to try this one.
At first, I thought the character of Lula was going to be really hard to like; however, as the story went on I began to understand her point of view, and how her personality and actions stemmed from trying to be seen as something other than the flighty girl she had once been. Though I still became annoyed with her at times, I never flat-out disliked her as I did the main character in the author's last book, A Home For My Heart.
One thing I did really enjoy was the cast of secondary characters- Lula's nephew, J.C. as well as Blaze & Nannie, two basketball players from the girls' and boys' teams. The World War I element was also used, and it gave a good background to the story, although I think I probably would have liked a plot that had been a bit more centered on that. But that's totally just my own personal preference.
And though I'm rating this book about the same as A Home For My Heart, I will say that I enjoyed Playing by Heart MUCH more than the last; not only were the characters more likable, but the plot- even though I'm no fan of basketball :)- was also more interesting. Still, it was a bit too romance-centered for my taste. I mean, it was still very clean, but it seemed like there was just so much time where the characters were thinking about each other and how they didn't have time to be distracted by "broad shoulders" or "pretty eyes"- you know what I'm talking about. Though this doesn't bother some people (Indeed, some readers seem to enjoy it) that's just not my thing. That's kind of how I view this whole book- it was not bad by any means, it's just didn't really stand out to me among the stack of Christian Historical Fiction I've read before.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.