I learned early last year that I would read anything Taylor Jenkins Reid writes. Her talent for creating the most compelling, yet often unlikeable, characters and making you root for their happiness is a true talent and a gift to readers everywhere. When I learned she would be writing Carrie Soto’s story, a character first introduced in Malibu Rising, I was intrigued because Carrie was not someone the reader was inspired to like when she entered Nina Riva’s life. But, I knew from the previous books of Reid’s I’ve read, that I would not be disappointed.
From the publisher marketing:
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 Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father as her coach. Javier—a former champion himself—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. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.
We live in a world where exceptional women have to sit around waiting for mediocre men.
Since I had the immense privilege of getting an advance copy of this book, I ended up reading it during the Wimbledon tournament. It seemed very fitting and has reignited by interest in tennis. I played tennis for one year in high school but since I wasn’t very good, I didn’t pursue it. Turns out, I much prefer reading about it, especially when it’s a book about my new favorite fictional player, Carrie Soto. It’s also made me rethink my stance on not traveling to England in July after getting heat-sickness there 3 years ago because I think I would love to see a Wimbledon match in person.
Anyway, back to the book- I could not put this book down. Well, I was reading it on my iPad and so I couldn’t put my iPad down. When my iPad got overheated because I was reading it outside, I switched to reading it on my phone because I had to know what was going to happen next in the story. The story starts with a retired Carrie watching the match that has leads to her record of Slam titles being matched by another player. It then backtracks to the beginning of her life and everything that led to that moment. It was in those pages I came to really love Carrie and despite her flaws, I was rooting for her.
I wanted Carrie to do well and maintain her life’s work of being the greatest tennis player of all time, but I also wanted her to confront her own mind and deal with her long-simmering feelings towards what being the greatest really means. I wanted Carrie to find happiness in herself. I also fell in love with all of the other people in this story- Carrie’s dad, her agent, and even Bowe Huntley. The brief allusions to Reid’s previous books, as well as the setting in the 1990s, which meant references to VHS tapes, Blockbuster, and even an appearance from Princess Diana at the Wimbledon finals, made for an even more wonderful, nostalgia-filled read.
In an effort to avoid spoilers, I don’t want to give too much away but I will say, I particularly loved the ending and laughed out loud with how Reid chose to end the book. I really hope she continues to write more stories set in this same world of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones, Nina Riva, and Carrie Soto because I certainly cannot get enough and now plan to reread all of them.
Rating: 9 out of 10