Book Reviews

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto is Back was on my library hold list for so long that I absolutely forgot I had requested it. Then, the email comes through saying it’s available. I almost let it lapse too! However, after seeing all the hype, I thought it was worth the 10 minute drive to pick it up (where I left with three other library books too…)

The Story

In this powerful novel about the cost of greatness, a legendary athlete attempts a comeback when the world considers her past her prime—from the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising.

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet. 

My Thoughts

A friend on Instagram warned me that there was a lot of tennis in Carrie Soto is Back, and she most certainly was not wrong. It was a lot of tennis. A lot of:

“I hit it on the line. She hit it back in the middle. I hit it to her bad side. I had to jump for her shot. She hit it again. We played tennis.”

Obviously Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote it better than I did, but that’s how it felt to read it a lot of the time. It didn’t take away from the novel, but it did make a lot of it easy to skim.

TJR is good at writing strong women. In a lot of cases, these strong women are not liked by those around her. That is frustrating, I’m not going to lie. Why can’t these powerful women also be liked? Is the only way to be powerful to be feared or alone?

One thing I like about TJR books? They’re all weirdly tied together. Granted, I probably would not have picked up on this if someone in a Facebook group hadn’t asked about it, but still. Carrie Soto is “the other woman” in Malibu Rising. Daisy Jones and the Six is mentioned in Carrie Soto is Back. I think she might be mentioned in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in some way? It’s kind of a cool thing.

I believe this makes my third TJR book, so I feel qualified for this next statement: I don’t get the hype. Yes, her books are fine. They’re well written and usually have some good lessons in them. However, I don’t understand the obsession. Will I read a book if it’s given to me or perhaps if it’s available at the library? Probably. Will I actively go out to purchase any over her books in the future? Unlikely.

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