Thursday, September 22, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Taylor Jenkins Reid writes compelling novels. Her new book, Carrie Soto is Back, is a fast-paced sports comeback novel that I found absorbing, even though sports comeback stories are not really my thing.

The heroine, Carrie Soto, was introduced to us in Malibu Rising as the tennis star who was involved with Nina Riva’s husband. Now we see Carrie’s side. 

Tennis is Carrie Soto’s entire life. From an early age, Carrie was coached by her father to be the very best. And she was, setting the record for the most lifetime Grand Slam singles titles before injury forced her into retirement. Now, at the age of 37, after 5 years of retirement, Carrie is watching her record fall to tennis’ latest sensation, Nicki Chan. To defend her claim, Carrie comes out of retirement.

The novel traces Carrie’s rise and fall on the tennis circuit. It shows her rather one-dimensional childhood and her obsessive lifestyle. Carrie was always a focused competitor whose take-no-prisoners playing style and blunt response to reporters gained her the unflattering sobriquet of the Battle-Axe, or worse. She had a series of short affairs with male tennis players that ended as quickly as they began. She feels she has to get back into the game because she has nothing else. But given her reputation, it’s unclear tennis wants her back.

Her comeback year is a struggle, but it’s also full of life lessons. She asks her father to be her coach once again. And when none of the highly ranked women will practice with her, she reunites with a male tennis star, once promising but now also a near has-been, with whom she had a one-night stand many years earlier. The development of their relationship is funny and sweet.

It’s impossible not to see echoes of Serena Williams in this novel, just as it was impossible not to think of Fleetwood Mac while reading Daisy Jones and the Six

Whether you’re a tennis fan or not, you’ll find yourself rooting for Carrie, not necessarily to defend her title, but to find herself. There are no real surprises, but this is a fully satisfying book.

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