Taylor Jenkins Reid is the bestselling author of Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Malibu Rising, a companion novel to Carrie Soto Is Back, dominated the Sunday Times bestseller chart for twelve weeks.
By the time Carrie retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record with the help of her father, who has coached her since childhood. But in the process of becoming the best, Carrie has made a lot of enemies. Six years after her retirement. Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open watching her hard-earned record be taken away from her by British tennis player Nicki Chan. In a fierce move to claim back her record, Carrie comes out of retirement at the age of thirty-seven. Even though the sports media are against her and her body doesn’t move as it used to do, Carrie Soto is back for one final epic season.
Carrie Soto Is Back is an immersive and incredible novel. As with all of Reid’s work, it is the wonderfully crafted characters that will draw you into the story here. Carrie is a character you cannot help but root for. She is unapologetically herself, and her refusal to care what people think about her is both refreshing and exhilarating. Her character is also one that feels incredibly lifelike. Interspersed with radio interviews, newspaper articles and sports broadcasts, Reid builds up an image of Carrie that makes her character feel so real it is difficult to reconcile with the fact that she is a fictional character.
Furthermore, it is not just the characters of the novel who Reid portrays in such a realistic fashion, but the entire world surrounding Carrie too. Even if you are not a fan of tennis or if you have little knowledge of the sport, Reid explains the rules in a way that is easy to understand. As a result, you find yourself kept on your toes for the entirety of the novel, eagerly anticipating the outcome of each tennis match. It is as though you are transported to the benches, watching each match from the audience and cheering Carrie on.
The novel does a fantastic job of illuminating the battles every woman has to fight. Whilst the story is undoubtedly about the struggles of being an older female athlete, it is also about the issues women face more generally. As we see with the harsh criticism Carrie receives in comparison to that received by her male counterparts, there is a narrative in society that women who are ambitious are too aggressive, rude and hostile. Women with drive are feared, it seems and consequently vilified. Carrie is supposed to act surprised every time she wins a match instead of revelling in her glory because to show you want to win as a woman is socially unacceptable. In this sense, Carrie Soto Is Back is not just about the struggles of being a female athlete but the struggles of being a woman, period.
Overall, Carrie Soto Is Back is an amazing novel that will capture your heart. Not only is the story entertaining, but educational, highlighting the misogyny that permeates our society.