Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer


Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Playing by HeartPlaying by Heart by Anne Mateer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Numbers remained constant in a way other things did not.

So goes Lula Bowman’s thinking at the beginning of her journey in Playing by Heart, a journey where she’ll eventually have to determine what she’s built her life upon and what she–as a student, a teacher, a mathematician, a reluctant pianist and basketball coach, a woman, an individual–truly wants.

I appreciated author Anne Mateer’s choice to write the novel from two first person points of view, to let us see the story through both Lula’s and Chet Vaughn’s eyes: the eyes of two kinds of misfits who find themselves having to stand up to the plans that others would have them follow for their lives.

There’s some redundancy in characters’ reactions in the novel, such as chins either lifting or tucking toward chests, and hearts either leaping or sinking. The romance didn’t draw me in fully, perhaps because, while Lula and Chet think a lot about each other separately, the actual communication between them seems underdeveloped. Also, Chet’s sudden choice toward the end is a bit of a strange fit for his story, not quite a natural climax.

Yet, seeing how Lula must find a way to reconcile her different dimensions as a person and take a new look at her faith is a compelling reason to read this novel.


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