I’m not only a writer, but I am an avid reader. This book was handed to me by author Ramsey Hootman in hopes that I might enjoy it and review it. I not only enjoyed it, I devoured it in 3 days. Here’s what it was about, plus my two cents…
In the book, Courting Greta, Samuel Cooke has spent the majority of his life fighting society’s view of who he is – a skinny and crippled computer genius who has never been the subject of a romantic encounter. Seeking out a drastic change in his life, Samuel ends his successful career as a computer programmer to become a computer teacher at a school in Healdsburg.
It’s there that he meets the school’s gym coach, Greta Cassamajor, better known as “Cass”, a teacher who strongly resembles Coach Shannon Beiste, “The Beast” from Glee.
Cass is avoided by everyone at the school – teachers and students. She’s an ox of a woman, as large as Samuel is scrawny. Her temper is easily provoked. She appears to have no friends, though she is loyal to keeping her team on the winning side. Right from the start, Samuel is warned to just stay out of her way by his colleagues and students. But something about Cass is intriguing to Samuel, eventually urging him to pursue this hard to please woman.
Author Ramsey Hootman, a native of Healdsburg, CA, spins a story of two people generally ignored by society, and makes them so endearing you cannot help but fall in love with them. In her debut novel, she proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover as secrets and past betrayals are brought to the surface of both characters, sharing the reasons for each brick they’ve put in place to keep others at bay. And through the course of the book, Hootman paints the portrait of a perfect love that has blossomed from imperfections.
What I loved most about this book is that it touches on all those weird things we think only exist in ourselves. Hootman takes two people who have very obvious qualities that make them outcasts, but they possess the same insecurities that every one of us has in our day to day lives. I found myself relating emphatically with the characters in spite of, or perhaps because of, the things that held them back. I loved how these two very different people came together to form the unlikeliest of couples – but they also just made sense as a couple. And I appreciated how deep the author went into demonstrating the multiple layers that exist under a tough posterior – how there is always more to the story than what one damaged soul wishes to divulge.
Some of the hidden highlights to also look for in this book:
– Ramsey Hootman is only the pen name for the author. If you know her real name, look for a brief appearance by her “alter” ego.
– Northern California peeps (like myself) will love the local references. The town of Healdsburg paints the backdrop of the story, and even includes town favorites like the Future Farmers parade and festival.
– Alumni of Healdsburg High may have an easy time envisioning the halls and classrooms described in Courting Greta, as much of the book takes place there.