BOOK REVIEW: Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Carrie Soto is Back

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Audiobook Length: 10 hours and 30 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Sports

Read Start Date: December 9, 2022

Read Finish Date: December 18, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: 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 Review: Originally introduced to us in Malibu Rising (see my review of that book here) as the girlfriend of Nina Riva’s husband, Carrie Soto Is Back is the story of Carrie Soto, the best female tennis player in the world. The book spans the period of her life, from childhood to her late thirties. Carrie retired from tennis with the record of winning the most Grand Slam titles…a record that is about to be beat by another tennis player, Nicki Chan. The Goodread synopsis does a good job of summing up the story, so I won’t go too much into plot detail here.

Overall, I liked this book. Currently, it has a 4.26 rating on Goodreads (I am giving it 4 stars), so lots of other people feel the same way about it.

There is a lot of tennis in this book, a sport I don’t know too much about — my lack of knowledge didn’t take away from the story so if you’re like me, then you won’t be lost with all the tennis references. The author does a good job of making the actual tennis playing accessible to people who don’t know the rules of the game.

The Candid Cover states “As a reader, I was pulled right into the matches and the intense drama that unfolds. These aspects are really exciting, and I really loved the commentary on the politics of sport and some of its sexism, making for a thought-provoking read.”

I agree regarding the commentary! When you listen to the audiobook, it adds something special because there is typical “sports commentary” music and there are different narrators for the voices of the pundits.

Through the book we see Carrie “The Battle Axe” grow as a human being. Despite being 37 years old, Carrie still has a lot to learn about love and life. Tennis had been her entire life. She wanted to be the best, and she didn’t care who she hurt along the way — even her father, who she fired as her coach because he couldn’t get her to be where she needed to be professionally. At 37, she is alone, never having a serious boyfriend or love interest.

As she reconnects with her father (who is coaching her once again), and with a tennis player she slept with once years before, Carrie slowly begins to learn there is more to life than tennis.

Mrs. B’s Book Reviews says of the father / daughter relationship: ” The most touching part of Carrie Soto is the unconditional relationship that she holds with her father. Reid does a truly excellent job of portraying a realistic, respectful and loving father /daughter relationship.”

I’m not usually a fan of child / parent relationship stories, because often times they come off really sickly sweet, but I have to agree that Reid did a really good job of keeping it touching / sentimental without getting to barf level sap.

I have read a bunch of books by Taylor Jenkins Reid (click on the author tag at the end of the post to see the other reviews) and I am blown away each time. Reid’s books are always well researched, well written and well developed. She is a fantastic writer and weaver of tales and this book was no exception.

I would definitely recommend this book.

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