Courting Greta

Title: Courting Greta

Author: Ramsey Hootman. This is her first novel.

Genre: Commercial Fiction

Readers: Stay-at-home moms Katie and Colleen B., professor JoLee, nonprofit director Kimberly and victim advocate MJ.

Summary: Samuel Cooke knows most women wouldn’t give him a second glance even if he were the last man on earth. He’s the cripple with the crutches, the nerdy computer genius every female past puberty feels compelled to mother. So when he leaves his lucrative career to teach programming to high schoolers, romance definitely isn’t on his radar.

Perhaps that’s why Greta Cassamajor catches him off guard. The sarcastic gym coach with zero sense of humor is no beauty – not even on the inside. But an inexplicably kind act toward Samuel makes him realize she is interesting.

Samuel is certain she won’t accept his invitation to dinner – so when she does, he’s out of his depth. All he knows is that he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her as long as he can. Pretending he’s got his class under control? Easy. Being vulnerable enough to admit why he ditched his programming career for teaching? Um, no. That would require honesty. And if there’s one thing Samuel can’t live without, it’s the lies he tells himself.

Katie

Courting Greta is about Samuel Cooke, a wealthy computer programmer who quits his job and decides to teach programming in a high school.  He has no teaching experience and has a disability that makes it difficult for him to walk, so he needs to use leg braces or even a wheelchair at times.  This makes him a target for the students, and the job is immediately a challenge for Samuel. The Greta of the title is Greta Cassamajor, the gym teacher, who reminded me somewhat of Coach Beiste on Glee, with her tough exterior and soft inside, and her own secrets to hide.  Samuel falls for Greta, but their relationship isn’t simple or easy. This is not a chick-lit-style romance, by any means.  The characters aren’t conventionally attractive, nor are they always [or even often] sympathetic.   I enjoyed the setting of the high school and the interactions with the students, and I did root for the main couple.  However, I can’t say I actually liked Samuel and Greta all that much; Samuel is whiny and Greta is really uptight and uncommunicative.   While I did enjoy aspects of the book, I wouldn’t put it on my list of beach books for the summer.

Grade:  B-

 

Colleen B.

This book was just awkward enough to be fantastic.  Courting Greta shows us that falling in love is never easy, especially for those who are “different”.

This isn’t your typical handsome charming guy finds beautiful women kind of novel. It is so much more.  Samuel is rough, abrasive, a little bitter and bent on making it in the world without help – though he needs it.   Greta is a little on the manly side but clearly has a need to be loved.   These two characters are flawed, gawky and utterly lovely.

Hootman takes this odd pair on a journey to defy the odds and find love.  I thought this book was great.

Grade: B+

 

JoLee

The main characters of Courting Greta are Samuel Cooke, a disabled computer scientist and Greta Cassamajor, a church-going, female P.E. teacher. Both characters are still healing from really awful, painful pasts. Samuel falls for Greta. Hard. It’s a premise that could lead to a complete disaster–too saccharine or too preachy–but it doesn’t. It’s pretty fabulous. Ramsey Hootman writes about people, rather than caricatures. Samuel can be horribly self-centered, but he can also be fantastically forthright. Greta is prickly and unbending but also stalwart and loyal. Both Samuel and Greta are obviously so much more than their appearance. In short, they are the type of people that I like to read about, flaws and all. And the relationship is never a forgone conclusion either. I was pulling for these two to succeed in life and in love, but I wasn’t sure that was actually going to happen. This is a love story that is worth reading.

Grade: A-

 

Kimberly

Courting Greta, in a nutshell, is a love story, but to use just those two words to describe it seems so inadequate. This book is also a story about finding strength, being vulnerable, surviving high school (as a teenager and as an adult), becoming part of a community, letting go of fear, and embracing forgiveness. It’s filled with well-developed and interesting characters and a point-of-view I’ve not come across in a novel before. I appreciated that the main character has a disability and thought the author, Ramsey Hootman, explored this topic respectfully and in a relatable way. Additionally, Courting Greta is told in a quirky and engaging manner, and the book completely drew me in. I rooted for Samuel on his pursuit of Greta, and I found myself looking forward to the next time I could steal away to read their story. I recommend this book to those who like modern fiction and those who are looking for a unique voice from a new writer.

Grade: A

 

MJ

This is not your every day love story, in fact it is not like any other romance you have ever read. No one is brutally handsome or terminally pretty. This is a story about real people, people you probably know, that live down the street. Its that couple that you see at the grocery story and say how did that happen? That is what makes this book so wonderful. Characters that are wonderfully flawed and have real life problems. The book is at times hard to read because it is so honest and you want to yell at the characters to get it together and move forward.

One of the aspects I really liked was that the story was told entirely from the male perspective. I was instantly drawn to nerdy Samuel and his quest to start a new life. I was unclear why he was drawn to gruff Greta who in most all ways was his polar opposite. As their relationship grew I started to realize that she was exactly what he needed. And just as clearly she needed him. This may not be your beach read for the summer but it a must read.

Grade: A+

Read Also: One Day by David Nicholls

 

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