Taylor Jenkins Reid does it again in writing a novel that is incredibly engaging while also making me care about a subject I have never thought about.
Carrie Soto is in her mid-thirties and the queen of the tennis world. Although now retired, she’s broken every barrier there is to break and has become synonymous with greatness in the minds of all sports fanatics. She is guided in life by her father, Javier, a famous retired tennis player, who loves her while pushing her to be her best. Years after her initial retirement, Carrie finds her competitive spirit returning as she watches the new best player in the world, Nicki Chan. Nicki is the only woman ever to come close to beating Carrie’s historic tennis achievements, and driven by her determination to be the best, Carrie decides to step out of retirement for one last historic run.
I absolutely do not care about tennis. I’ve never played in my life, and the only players I could name would be the Williams sisters, who obviously influenced this novel. That said, I was immediately drawn into the story of this incredibly talented yet stubborn woman trying to make a comeback. Sports is such an age-driven world, and Carrie is considered old even at age 37. She retired at 31 and has felt a bit adrift ever since.
Carrie is not an easy woman or character to like. She’s brash, a sore loser with a big mouth, and thinks she’s better than everyone around her. For large parts of the novel, I was hoping she would fail just to see how she would handle that devastation. That being said, Jenkins Reid does an excellent job of showing how Carrie came to be this closed-off and single-minded. She is raised by her single father who has breathed the importance of tennis into her since she was a child, both only relating to the other in the ways of tennis. Their ability to connect through tennis drives Carrie to obsession, pushing everything else to the side, including relationships, to be the best, just like her father said she always would be.
While I didn’t enjoy this as much as Taylor Jenkins Reid’s previous books, the story was still incredibly captivating and relatable. There’s a theme of knowing and accepting when something ends, whether we want it to or not, which every reader can understand. A fantastic book and also would be an excellent book club choice.
Title: Carrie Soto is Back
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Three Descriptors: Compelling, Complex, Suspenseful
The Second Season by Emily Adrian
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Home or Away by Kathleen West
The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll