BOOK REVIEW: Playing by Heart

Playing by Heart

by Anne Mateer

I would give this book:

4.5 out of 5 Stars
First off, isn’t this cover fabulous? I love the grace and beauty here, not the mention the color choice. I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t any basketball reference on the cover, since the sport is so prevalent in the book. I did, however, enjoy the basketball photograph on the back–that black-and-white photo of the girls adds an element of fun!
I’d never read Anne Mateer’s work before, so I chose the book based on the cover. I am pleased to report that I enjoyed the story and will probably read her work again.
Mateer’s writing is less descriptive than what I am used to reading. Most of the time, that didn’t bother me–I could imagine the scenes, the movements, the clothing, etc. just fine. I adored her clipped sentences and occasional fragments. This writing style really moved quickly.
The pacing of the story went very well at first. I was sucked in and hanging on every word. Then, the pace slowed, about the time when the heroine, Miss Lula Bowman, is hired as the music teacher/girls’ basketball coach and didn’t pick up until the moment basketball season began. To be honest, I’d hoped for more fireworks between Lula and Chet throughout most of the story. I was a bit surprised at how Chet could think of nothing else but Lula, yet he really hadn’t had much of a conversation with her until basketball season started. I would’ve loved to see more connecting moments between the two of them. The pacing picked up again, near the end, when the basketball season was at an end and everything barreled toward the black moment. I really connected with the characters and sympathized for them at this point.
I found the storyline to be unique. I liked how Mateer linked WWI, basketball, and music. I felt like I was walking around in the time period, so that was wonderful. In fact, this old time “flavor” was my favorite aspect of the book!
I recommend Playing By Heart by Anne Mateer.
This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

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