FAVORITE TJR BOOK: Carrie Soto is Back Review

UnknownSummary (from the publisher): 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.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I love Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, but as I’ve shared in my reviews and in my TJR book ranking, I have controversially felt medium on Daisy Jones and the Six (I do have a library hold on the audiobook) and although I flew through and really enjoyed Malibu Rising, I wasn’t screaming my love off the rooftops (or on the blog). However, I had seen such rave reviews for Carrie Soto is back over its first two weeks. With a free weekend ahead and some impatience for it to come in from the library , I bought my own copy. Reader, is it surprised that I finished the book in less than 24 hours?

Carrie Soto is Back follows the title character as she comes out of retirement when the current #1 player, Nicki Chan, threatens to break her record for the most amount of Slam titles. The book begins with Carrie’s decision to come out of retirement, with her father once again as her coach, but then goes from her days as a child to her early career to her most successful stages and then transitions back to the present day and quest to keep her title as the greatest of all time.

I know the title makes it easy to use the following pun, but my love for TJR’s books is back because Carrie Soto is Back is for sure one of my favorite reads of the year! 

I am a sports fan and like picking up sports books every once a while, but I understand why some readers might not be super into this one because of the sports talk. I definitely don’t know much about tennis though, and TJR made it so simple to understand the game and find myself rooting for Carrie throughout. TJR had me guessing at every outcome of Carrie’s matches. I was really good and didn’t sneak ahead to find out the results. I didn’t know if this book would be about Carrie easily finding her way back to winning,  or losing throughout her attempts, or a mix of both (I’ll let you decide). I guess Carrie could be considered an unlikeable protagonist, but I loved her. I’m hesitant about this label because there was never a moment where I was saying oh Carrie about one of her remarks or thoughts. The book included conversation about how female athletes are treated differently than male athletes, but I liked how it wasn’t overt or plainly discussed until two scenes I can think of near the end of the book. It’s clear though, but again not, blatantly said in the book’s sports report excerpts featuring, yes, mostly male reporters,

The book definitely has an emphasis on the father-daughter relationship, as Carrie lost her mother as a child and her father, Javier, is the reason why Carrie starting playing tennis and served as her coach throughout most of her career. There are also two other relationships Carrie begins to develop (don’t want to share to avoid spoilers) that I really loved. Carrie Soto is Back is set in the ‘90s. The time period didn’t really affect the novel all that much, but I wonder if TJR made that choice partially because it allowed Carrie to be one of the first leading female tennis players and set the stage for the sport, and also to not let social media and that side of fame/paparazzi/instant news affect Carrie.

Overall, Carrie Soto is Back was a slam dunk of a read for me (here I am with the sports puns). It is for sure one of my top favorite books of 2022!

Have you read Carrie Soto is Back yet? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite TJR book? Share in the comments! 

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