By Taylor Jenkins Reid
For the first edition of asynchronous book group, I wanted to go back to a book that I did in fact cry over. I absolutely loved this book, as I have most of TJR’s novels, and was very excited to get my hands on this one.
Carrie Soto makes her first appearance in Malibu Rising, but I was pleasantly surprised that her short (and unpleasant) involvement holds no real bearing on who she is when we meet her in this book. I think her personality and character made a lot of sense for a professional athlete who has always wanted to be the best. She’s called the Battle-Axe, and throughout the book it’s hinted that the nickname doesn’t only refer to her tennis game.
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 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.
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.
I think it’s pretty clear by the end that she has changed her tune on at least some of this, and the smile that she gives Nicki in the last moments is such an amazing piece of her story. The acceptance that someone is better than her, but also the determination to help her become even better. To me, that smile said, “If I can’t be the best, I’m going to make sure you are.”
It’s been a while since I actually read this book, but there are moments that I think about quite often, including one of the most important, when Carrie says that she’s finally free from being the world’s best tennis player, and she can now be something else. I tell you what, TJR has my number. I love her work so much, and I cannot wait until she releases something new.
- What do you think the main reason for Carrie coming out of retirement was?
- Do you think Carrie deserved some of her bad press? What was your first impression of her? (either in this book, or in Malibu Rising)
- What do you think Javier means when he says, “Good is the enemy of great”?
- What similarities and differences did you see between Carrie and Nicki, and what was your opinion of Nicki after she met with Carrie?
I can’t wait to see what you have to say!