Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Random House Audio
August 30, 2022
Review by Jen
I LOVED Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid!! I listened to this one and was absolutely addicted from beginning to end. In fact, here’s my headline on TJR’s latest, If Netflix turns this into a limited series, it will do for tennis what The Queen’s Gambit did for Chess. It’s that freaking good! And, could the timing be any better with Serena on her farewell tour and the US Open. Just perfect!
Ok, so…what’s it about?
Carrie Soto is the best female tennis player in the world. She has a record for winning the most grand slams and retired years ago after suffering knee problems followed by surgery. She has her own charitable foundation, and some great endorsements that make her tons of $$$. She does not need to pull a Tom Brady and retire, then come back. She’s fine. Except that she’s not. She is itchy to play after another tennis star closes in on her record. Carrie loves the game. And, she loves winning. She is an incredibly competitive player with a rep for being abrasive and giving zero fucks.
Carrie’s dad was also a major tennis star, well known, respected, and a best-selling author on the game. He coached Carrie for years until she decided that to keep winning she needed to leave her dad and get another coach. Her nickname was the “battle-ax” and sometimes she was even called the other B word as confident women often are. Sadly.
Carrie decides she wants back in. She wants to defend her record. She has to win again. She asks her dad to coach her and he’s in, too. She gets some help training and hitting from a male player, Bo, who she used to date. He never retired. He’s about the same age…a whopping 37 years old and is still on the circuit. In his heyday, he was a little like John McEnroe. Mouthy and argumentative on the court. They team up and they both get better playing with each other and being coached by Carrie’s dad. While this isn’t a big romance book, Bo and Carrie go through a lot. They’re honest with each other, beat each other on the court, and spar with each other off the court. It was nice to see them facing challenges together and watching their relationship grow.
Along with the feeling that I was listening to a long, close, nail-biter of a game, there were so many layers to this story that resonated with me.
First, Carrie is old for her profession. Some would say that I, too, am old. Older than her. It’s a hard place to be, aging while still feeling “with it” and relevant. Even when the world tells you otherwise. Carrie’s age was thrown in her face by the press at every turn. She had something to prove. I found her to be incredibly inspiring. At a certain age, it’s around 40 (if you’re an athlete, even younger!), people sometimes start dismissing you, and may not take you seriously. Especially for women, this is true. I cheered for Carrie and appreciated her fierceness. She didn’t let the gossip and doubters get her down.
Second, Carrie isn’t there to make friends. She isn’t about making apologies or smiling sweetly so people will like her. She’s a world class athlete who got there through hard work, and determination, and isn’t going to behave like her achievements were a gift, or serendipitous. She worked her ass off to be where she is, and no one is going to take it away from her. It becomes an interesting study about how strong women are perceived. At one point, a sportscaster is heard on a hot mic saying she’s a bitch. Men don’t get this kind of treatment. At least not at the same level as women.
Throughout the book, TJR cuts to sportscasters and writers talking about Carrie in ways that could tear her down. In ways that most men aren’t subjected to. I thought it was very authentic…and so sad. Because it’s true.
The audio was excellent! There were several voice actors playing the parts of the press in Sports Center type moments. The ending was perfection. Without giving it away- there’s a spirit of women supporting women that I just loved. I know so little about tennis and the fact that this was a story about a tennis star, was unappealing. TJR is one of my favorite authors I almost took a pass on Carrie Soto. I had the opportunity to get an ARC from Libro.FM and I’m grateful that I gave it a try. The story was amazing and it actually added some excitement to the US Open updates I would’ve previously ignored. Read it, listen to it… whatever you want. Just don’t miss out on Carrie Soto is Back. It just might be my top read of the year.