Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Opening Line: My entire life’s work rests on the outcome of this match.
For my 1000th book on Goodreads I decided to reread my favorite book from the first 999. I picked Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which has remained one of my favorites to this day. For my 2000th book I picked Daisy Jones and the Six. However, between picking Daisy Jones, and actually completing my 1999th book, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s new book came out, and I took it as a sign that I needed to read that instead. And boy, I was not disappointed. I read Daisy Jones when it came out, Malibu Rising last summer, and finally picked up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo recently. I loved all of them, and was very excited for this new book.
If you’ve read Malibu, you’ll recognize the name Carrie Soto. She’s the tennis player that Nina’s husband leaves her for. I was initially surprised there was a connection at all. It’s not something I’ve seen before in TJR’s books. Luckily, it didn’t overshadow anything. What I learned about Carrie Soto in Malibu was immaterial once I started to read about her life. Carrie is a tennis player, like her father before her, and inherits from him not only the talent to play, but the fierce competitive nature that drives her to always be the best. When the book begins Carrie is retired and holds the world record for most women’s grand slams in tennis history, and she watches as someone younger and stronger takes that record away from her. This prompts her to come out of retirement to defend her record, and so the events of the book begin.
I absolutely loved this book. TJR has my number. Her style of giving humanity to figures that might not seem like every day people continues to astound me. When I first saw that this was following in the footsteps of Daisy Jones, Evelyn Hugo, and Nina Riva I was a bit apprehensive. How many times can an author write the story of a famous woman while giving her vulnerability and strike absolute gold? After reading this book I would say TJR can do it at least four times. It was inspiring to watch Carrie’s journey through this book. Coming to realizations about herself and how both she and the world sees her was mesmerizing, and the message that was central to the story resonates clearly even today:
If you overcome obstacles to make things better for the people who come after you, you can’t resent them for not struggling as much as you did.
Carrie fought for women’s tennis. She made things better for someone like Nicki Chan (the player taking her record from her) but then resents her accomplishments. It means so much to her that she comes out of retirement to fight for what she believes belongs to her.
Without giving too much away, I will say that this book focuses on the moments Carrie comes to terms with her place in the world post tennis career. In the opening line she states that her life’s work is her grand slam titles. At the time, that statement is true. She has almost no friends, no significant other, no children or hobbies. Carrie Soto is her tennis career, and six years after she retires, her legacy is being taken away from her. The message is so universal, as we all get older and recognize that our achievements can be overshadowed. But I think that’s the point of the book. Be more than just your professional achievements.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Review by Catherine Nevin
This book is available to Friend Memorial Library patrons in person, and on the Libby App.
Cover photo taken from goodreads.com