Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid | #bookreview | @HutchHeinemann

I was very excited to read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s new novel set in the tennis world, Carrie Soto is Back as I absolutely loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Malibu Rising. Did I enjoy Carrie Soto as much? Well, read on to find out.

About the Book

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular.

By the time Carrie retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Slam titles. And if you ask her, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father as her coach.

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, British 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 a story about the cost of greatness and a legendary athlete attempting a comeback.

My Thoughts

Like all the Taylor Jenkins Reid books I’ve read, it’s hard to remember that this book isn’t about an actual famous person. Carrie Soto feels so very real and this reads just like a memoir. It was fun to see characters from other books popping up in a cameo role and indeed another of the author’s books made a cameo appearance too! Carrie herself is a character from Malibu Rising.

We see Carrie’s fierce determination and the single minded dedication required to become the best tennis player in the world. We follow her through the challenges, the sacrifices, the rivalries and are in no doubt about her competitive approach. She’s not very easy to like though, not really caring about public opinion, or being sporting to her rivals. She’s just totally focussed on winning at all costs. For most of the book we see her developing as a tennis player. It’s not until quite late on that she finally seems to develop as a person and become a bit more likeable. Taylor Jenkins Reid shows Carrie finally beginning to realise that there’s more to life than winning tennis.

With her reputation for being stand-offish she’s nicknamed ‘The Battle Axe’ and she’s not in the least bit bothered by that. Not surprisingly, she has difficulty in maintaining relationships when on the circuit all the time. One aspect of the story which I really enjoyed was the close bond between father and  daughter and how that was stretched and snapped under the pressure. Javier had also been a successful tennis player in his time and he drives Carrie on to be the best as her coach. There were many touching scenes as Carrie and her father begin to understand each other and become close again.

We follow Carrie through early success as a tennis player, becoming the best in the world. We then follow her as injury leads to decline and her retirement. We see that tennis players don’t just need to be physically fit but mentally fit too. The psychology and tactics of the game matter almost as much as the physical strategies.

Most of the book focusses on the big comeback as Carrie wants to take back her record of the most Grand Slam titles. Following Carrie as she plays in all four tennis grand slams is almost as tense at times as watching an actual tennis match! I read this the while the US Open was on which was interesting and I’m sure that publication date was accidental. It made me watch the players with different eyes. It’s hard not to compare Carrie to Serena Williams who is almost certainly playing her last Grand Slam tournament. At the other end of the scale, there are young players like Harriet Dart who beat a top ten seed for the first time at the US Open this week.

I did have a couple of niggles with the book. There’s a fair amount of Spanish scattered throughout the narrative and it’s not always translated or easy to guess. I suppose that not much of it is that important or it would have been explained but it did make me feel that I was missing out a bit. The other thing I wasn’t so keen on, and it maybe sounds a bit mad to say, but I felt there was just too much tennis in the book. Of course, it’s about a famous tennis player and her career but sometimes it felt like we were getting every single shot of a match described.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading about Carrie Soto and by the end I was cheering her on. The final few chapters as she plays her way through the US Open were almost as fast paced as any thriller novel. Carrie Soto is Back is another great character driven novel from Taylor Jenkins Reid with a sharp insight into ambition, determination to succeed and what that can cost.

My thanks to the publishers for my review copy of the book from Netgalley. Carrie Soto is Back is published by Hutchinson Heinemann and available now in hardback, ebook and audiobook.

About the Author

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including Malibu RisingDaisy Jones & The Six, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their daughter.

3 thoughts on “Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid | #bookreview | @HutchHeinemann

  1. I didn’t mind all the tennis (but I did skim some of it), but the Spanish was a bit much for me too. Still… a very special book, and what with Serena Williams just finishing off her own come back… serendipity here????

    Liked by 1 person

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