Book Review: Carrie Soto Is Back

Finally a true 5-star read I could not put down. I have so much love for Carrie Soto – the book and the character. I am just about to turn on ESPN hoping to catch a glimpse of the US Open. A glimpse of Carrie and Nicki slamming that ball at ridiculous speed. Because, like with Daisy, it’s hard to believe Carrie is not a real tennis player. The greatest, in fact.
Taylor Jenkins Reed is an incredible author. Her writing is precise and moving, her characters – complex and relatable. But I feel this is where she excels the most – in the “behind the scenes” look at great people, stripping them down to their very bones. Carrie feels like the rightful follow-up to Daisy. As touching as Nina Riva’s story was, “Malibu Rising” is more similar to TJR’s pre-Evelyn books. They are not bad, but they are not legendary. Evelyn, Daisy and Carrie are legends and I have to say I almost loved Carrie the most.
The very first chapters reminded me of “King Richard”, but then the story took off and became its own thing. In the beginning of the book it’s quite easy to dislike Carrie. She is relentless and unapologetic. She is the kind of woman that will be annoying to many people for a very long time. Even I, a well-read feminist, wondered is she for real with all that hubris. Of course everyone expected her to say she was surprised she won or the win could have gone both ways. That’s what we expect of women and we women of ourselves – to mask our successes and make them acceptable by underselling them. Not Carrie. And it cost her, but she never wavered. Carrie grows and learns a lot, but she does not change, she is still relentless in being herself. I loved that about her and I admire TJR’s skill writing it.
When you take the tennis out, the book, I think, is about acceptance – of people, of failure, of yourself. What makes you you and what does it mean to change, to give it up? Would you still be you? And in learning those lessons, one learns that whatever our successes and failures, they are never just ours. Carrie, as much as she believes she is on her own, is surrounded by people- her father, Bowe, Gwen – who fight right beside her, always. Her adversary Nicki Chan is also there, making it all matter. Because of those relationships and the meaning they carry, and because all the characters are incredibly well-written, this book feels like one epic journey.

Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash


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