Carrie Soto is Back

- Taylor Jenkins Reid


In this powerful novel about the cost of greatness, a legendary athlete attempts a comeback when the world considers her past her prime—from the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising.

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

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 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 her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.



My entire life’s work rests on the outcome of this match.


almost perfect:
Malibu Rising set me up to not like Carrie. In fact, I was pretty sure this would be a DNF for me. Instead, Carrie Soto is Back has brought me full circle with TJR to where I started with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I may have hit a few snags along the way, but starting and ending my TJR read-through with 4.5-star reads leaves me very little to complain about.

Let’s start with how well TJR wrote about drive, competition, and tennis. The absolute single-mindedness of Carrie and Javier over her entire life is more than enough to explain why not everyone goes pro. Carrie’s life is tennis, and she barely forgets it for a moment. She has these moments where something in the real world shakes her, and for half a second, there’s this realisation that there is an entire world out there. But it’s barely registered before her focus is back on tennis. And that motivation, the absolute intensity of winning and doing everything in your power to make it happen, is so tangible on every single page. It’s no wonder Carrie is so isolated. Nothing else matters to her, and that leaves her prickly, unapproachable, and so unused to socialisation that anyone who gets close is instantly rebuffed without a second thought.

I love the journey we take with Carrie, from birth to adult (in her elderly late-30s – insert eye roll for the patriarchy here). While she does evolve, she doesn’t change as a person, and I appreciate that so much. While she should be nicer and more forgiving to herself, and she may need to accept that she’s not in her twenties, she doesn’t need to change who she is.

I very much appreciated the clear message about gender inequality and social norms. The sportscasters and journalists are openly sexist, making even their female colleagues uncomfortable with their bullshit comments. The male athletes bristle if a woman is better or discount her achievements because of her sex. The loss of endorsements or opportunities if a woman doesn’t smile enough or isn’t gracious or humble enough – anyone with too much ambition or pride. It is ever present throughout this narrative and is so infuriating because of how true it is.

I enjoyed so much about Carrie Soto is Back. The slow burn semi-enemies-to-lovers (actually, it’s probably more miscommunication, but there’s a little too much arguing and anger to discount enemies), the relationship between Carrie and her father, the comeback narrative, and the competition and absolute drive and determination. It doesn’t hurt that I also really enjoy tennis and the way TJR writes about the sport. Overall, this book was a grand slam, and I won’t even apologise for the pun because it totally deserves it.



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