Carrie Soto is Back – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published By: Random House
Pages: 384
Released On: 30/08/2022

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.

*****

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I own a couple of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s previous books, but for some ridiculous reason, I’ve never got round to reading them. So, I thought it was about time I entered her world, and where better place to start than with Carrie Soto.

Every so often an author comes along who the whole world seems to love, and more often than not, I don’t agree, finding them too overexposed. And whilst this may be my first of her books that I’ve actually read, I think she may be the exception there. She’s utterly fabulous.

I am obsessed with tennis, so I loved that the game was a critical element to the story. You don’t often get fictional books on the topic of tennis – normally it’s football – so it was  very enjoyable from my perspective for that. The detail of the games is very impressive, either Taylor is a tennis fan, plays tennis or has just don’t an immense amount of research. Yes, most of the games are described in detail, some on a point-by-point basis, which could have been quite repetitive and tedious, but it wasn’t. reading the games was as thrilling as watching them.

It’s a fascinating character exploration into female competitors. If a male athlete – fictional or otherwise – acted in the same way Carrie does, it would be all positivity and praise, but instead she’s called a ‘Battle Axe’ and ‘more machine than woman’. There is a fabulous quote which I thought really summed it up for me:

“We live in a world where exceptional women have to sit around waiting for mediocre men.”

Whether it was intentional or not, I can definitely see some real-life tennis players reflected in the book’s characters.

I can’t say for the plot of her other books, whether they’re focussed on one topic, but this one is 100% tennis based. The plot, the characters, the emotions, the twists and turns – they all revolve around playing tennis, so if you don’t happen to be as much of a tennis nut as I am,. You may not enjoy it quite as much, but you should still appreciate it for the phenomenal writing and storytelling it is.

It is a powerful book, so joyful and surprisingly emotional. You will shed tears of sadness, of happiness, anger and pride.

I’ve read a lot of reviews that say they didn’t like Carrie, but I did right from the off. Yes she’s rude and brash and egotistical, but she’s strong and powerful, inspirational and passionate. I really loved her. I also loved her dad; their partnership was gorgeous. The only character I really had negative feelings towards was Nicki; she was a horrific piece of work, and I was willing throughout the book for her to lose. The other characters, whilst key, were more background to me. In my opinion, this is a two-man show.

It is so visual it is an assault on the senses. You can hear the crowds cheering, taste the victory, touch the ball and racket, see the court, smell the blood, sweat and tears she puts in. it is one of the most clearly visual stories I’ve read, and I think would make a very interesting TV series.

It’s hard to imagine that this book started off as a rough draft like any other book. It just leaps off the page right from the off that it feels like it must have come out perfectly on the first write. I just can’t imagine this being any less than the perfect read it is now.

It felt so real, that even after I’d finished, I was thinking about it, like she was a real tennis player, a peer. I kept thinking ‘I must see what she’s playing in next’, forgetting she was fictional, and I’d never get the chance to see her play.

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