Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid #NetGalley #ARCReview #BookReview

“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.”

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Carrie Soto is Back (Amazon) from NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Once again, Taylor Jenkins Reid has done it. She’s made an excellent book, about something for which I have no interest, and made it interesting. I don’t know or care a thing about tennis other than Serena Williams is the GOAT. But I came to care a lot about Carrie Soto the fictional all-time leading slam champion whose record is on the line and makes a comeback to keep that from happening. Carrie is the ultimate sports warrior, something I have seen in a variety of sports, including pro football.

Carrie is a flawed champion, one who doesn’t fit the cookie cutter expectation of a tennis pro, blonde, tall, blue eyed, says all the right things to the media. She’s exact opposite of that. She’s taught by her dad for most of her life. She doesn’t make friends on the circuit. And five years after injury forced her to retire, she sees her record of slams about to be beat. At the age of 37, she comes out of retirement, confident that she can win more slams and keep her record. (This really reminds me of the Packers’ Brett Favre and his unwillingness to retire gracefully.)

You don’t have to know a lot about tennis to like this book, you just like to have a good story being told. It’s the personal relationships that makes Carrie Soto is back work. I also really liked the “media coverage” of her comeback, showing just how shallow sports “reporting” can be, and how now it all seems to be about opinions and not hard facts.

In case you are keeping track of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s works, this book is also in the Mick Riva orbit, and there’s even a mention of Carrie reading an unauthorized biography of Daisy Jones & the Six. I’m wondering how many more books Jenkins Reid can weave into her little creative world. I think it’s ingenious and fun at the same time.

My only complaint, and I have this about all books that do this, is that there are many times when Carrie or her dad are speaking Spanish and there’s no translation. I almost failed Spanish more than 30 years ago, and subsequent attempts have proven that I have no ear for languages, so sometimes I had no idea what was said and had to guess at a translation. But like I said, that’s not unique to this book.

In short, if you enjoyed Jenkins Reid’s other works, you might want to check out Carrie Soto is Back. If you haven’t had the pleasure, there’s no time like the present.

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