Monday, January 16, 2023

REVIEW: Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid


I've yet to meet a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel that I don't love and Carrie Soto is Back continues that trend. Carrie Soto is this badass tennis legend, made great by her hard work and talent, and by the training and attention to detail of her father/coach. This novel starts us off with her record being overtaken and her decision to make a comeback. It then plunges us into her past and into the making of her into a tennis phenom at the loving hands of her father, Javier. Their relationship is filled with love and opinion and adoration, even in the middle of some of their toughest moments. I truly loved her father--he wasn't perfect but the way Reid writes him, the love he feels for his daughter is all over every page. While he's largely responsible for making her into the intensely focused, stubborn, take no prisoners player she becomes, he's also kind and sees her trajectory, but also sees the bigger picture. He tries, in Carrie's adulthood, to encourage her to see beyond the moment, beyond tennis, but it is a hard ask for her and the vulnerable way it makes her feel, makes it difficult for her to see what he sees. She's created a shield between herself and the world out of necessity and it's difficult for her to live without it, except when it comes to her father. She loves and adores him; wants to please him and make him proud. As noted before, their relationship was not always easy, the deep love and respect they had for each other made me love them. 

While the love story of Carrie and tennis/her career, and the familial love between a father and a daughter, are a huge part of this novel, the addition of Bowe elevates everything. Their tension on and off the court, their friendship, and eventual love softens the edges a little. It humanizes Carrie even more than her comeback struggles and I think I just like that she finds someone who challenges her. 

I enjoyed everything about this novel and I'm truly not doing it justice by not writing about the attention to detail--pertaining to the game of tennis and sexism Carrie has to ignore, just to name two things--but I know that others who are smarter will give that the attention it's due. All I know is that I'm sad that I can't read it for the first time and I'm envious of all of you who can. 


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.

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