Carrie Soto Is Back, Taylor Jenkins Reid – Book Review

Well, I never thought I’d love what is essentially a sports drama. But I’ll read anything that TJR comes out with, and this turned out to be one of my favourite novels of hers yet.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a whole lot of tennis in this book. But the author managed to get me captivated with Carrie’s story and completely invested into the importance of each and every match – I often found myself on tenterhooks, waiting to see which way a player would jump, which way the ball would drop. And I never thought that would be the case with a book about tennis.

Of course, this is not just a book about tennis. It’s a riveting story of a fiercely ambitious woman and her relationships, particularly that with her father and coach, Javier.

At 37, Carrie is a sports superstar but, six years after her retirement from tennis, she’s about to have her record taken from her by new women’s tennis star, Nicki Chan. And Carrie is not the type of woman to sit back and let that happen. So she comes out of retirement for one more year, determined to win another title and claim the record that she believes she deserves, as the greatest women’s tennis player the world has ever seen.

What really makes this story special is the characters. It’s told from a first person perspective, from Carrie’s point of view, and so the reader gets to see beyond the persona she presents to the public. Carrie is bold and brash – she’s referred to as “The Battle Axe” (and sometimes even “the bitch”) by sports commentators. But we get to see all of her – the bravado and the flaws and vulnerabilities it tries to cover.

“My ambition has long felt oppressive. It is not a joy, it is a master I must answer to, a smoke that descends into my life, making it hard to breathe.”

This author has a knack of crafting flawed, authentic characters and relationships, and that’s something that really shines through in this one. Carrie’s relationship with her father is something really special to read.

This is an inspiring read about the power of raw ambition – it definitely motivated me a few times to stop sitting around reading and do some exercise – and maybe have more blueberry smoothies and almonds! The book also gives a glimpse into life being a woman in the spotlight – the sexism, the ageism, the judgement of her private life.

“And yet, no matter what type of woman you are, we all still have one thing on common: once we are deemed too old, it doesn’t matter who we used to be.”

But, on the other hand, it’s an story of rising above the gossip. Carrie doesn’t care what people think of her (for the most part), she’s incredibly single-minded – sometimes to her detriment – and focused on success. But as she goes on one last, epic tennis journey, she might just learn that there’s more to life than winning after all.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 5/5.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Drama

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