Carrie Soto rules the tennis court during her career, stacking up wins, earning the nickname “The Battle Axe,” and setting a record for most Grand Slam wins. But while she collected trophies, she didn’t collect many friends and even fired her father as her tennis coach.
Six years into her retirement, a new tennis phenom is setting the world on fire in Nicki Chen. When Chen ties Soto’s record for Grand Slam wins, Carrie decides it’s time to come out of retirement and win back her record. With bridges repaired with her father, the Sotos embark on a mission to take the tennis world by storm. But will Carrie’s now-thirty-seven-year-old body allow her to dominate the way she did in her youth and can she win the elusive next title?
Taylor Jenkins Reid takes us inside Carrie’s head for the journey in her masterful Carrie Soto Is Back. Reid has been on the must-read list for a couple of years now with Daisy Jones and the Six and Malibu Rising. But there’s something about Carrie Soto that feels like Reid is taking us to the next level. It could be the singular focus on Carrie’s story as related by her. Or it could be the story of redemption and ambition tempered with being inside Carrie’s mind as she doubts herself and whether she’s doing the right thing or not.
But most of the novel’s success comes down to the superlatively drawn father/daughter relationship. Carrie’s father introduces her to the world of tennis and is an early guide to her career and then helps her find her way back for a comeback. I didn’t realize how invested I’d become in the relationship between Carrie and her father until certain events unfold late in the story and I found myself getting a bit of a lump in my throat — while reading at the dentist’s office as I waited on a family member.
Of all the books I’ve read by Reid, this is the one that sticks the landing the best. It’s bittersweet that the story ends for the characters involved exactly when it needs to, answering most of the big questions but leaving a few things for us to wonder about and fill in the gaps with our own imaginations.
Given that Reid inserts Easter eggs from other novels into other works, I wouldn’t be shocked to get an update on Carrie in a future story — and it’s something I will look forward to reading.
For now, Carrie Soto Is Back is an utterly satisfying story, steeped heavily in personal and professional redemptions for a compelling first-person narrator. I can’t recommend this one enough. Try it. I think you’ll like it.
2 responses to “Review: Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid”
Nice review. I had not thought that we might get updates on Carrie in future TJR books! That’s exciting
She does mention reading a book about Daisy Jones and the Six at one point and I believe she was introduced quickly in Malibu Rising. So, we could get a check in at some point