Also by this author: One True Loves, Daisy Jones & The Six
Published by Ballantine Books on August 30, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is the master of creating flawed characters that will capture your heart. She did it with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, she did it with Daisy Jones & the Six, and she has done it yet again with Carrie Soto is Back.
When an injury forced her into retirement at the age of 32, Carrie Soto had cemented her reputation as the best female tennis player in the world. She had broken numerous records and had won an incredible 20 Grand Slam titles. Becoming that great of a player has come with a cost for Carrie though. Not only did she completely isolate herself from anyone she could have possibly formed a relationship with (friendship or romantic), but she was also cold and pretty arrogant when it came to speaking to the media and even to her opponents on the WTA tour, earning herself the nicknames “The Battle Axe” and “The B*tch.”
Tennis is everything to Carrie and so when, five years after her retirement, another player is threatening to beat her 20 Grand Slams, Carrie becomes obsessed with making a comeback to defend her record. She decides to come out of retirement for one season to play the Grand Slam tournaments, and she asks her beloved father, who had coached her for much of her career, to coach her one last time.
I’m a sucker for an underdog story anyway, but there’s just something even more special about a legendary player trying to make a comeback and rise from the bottom back to the top. What especially got me about this story is with the way Carrie behaves, so cold and arrogant at times, she should have been completely unlikeable as a protagonist. But instead of hating her, I just loved her all the more. There was just so much more to Carrie than what she showed the world, as well as a well hidden vulnerability, and it really surprised me how invested I became in watching her take this journey and watching TJR peel back the layers of Carrie’s personality and let us in.
The tennis matches we witness are all adrenaline rushes that made for riveting reading, but I also think readers will fall in love with this story whether they are tennis fans or not. While Carrie’s comeback in the world of professional tennis is obviously front and center, Carrie Soto is Back is about so much more than tennis. It’s a story about never giving up but also about accepting yourself as you are, and it’s also about love and the importance of letting people into your life. My favorite scenes in the book are the ones between Carrie and her father as they train. We get to see those both in the past when Carrie was first rising to the top, and then again through her comeback, and it’s clear they have a special bond. Those scenes were incredibly moving and I adored her dad because of all the good he tried to instill in her and how he always believed in her no matter what. I found myself tearing up a few times as he was talking to Carrie. She was his world and it showed in every word and action.
I devoured Carrie Soto is Back in less than a day, and there is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a book and a protagonist that will stick with me for years to come.