A review by quillcg
Carrie Soto Is Back, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

emotional inspiring fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Since I highly enjoyed Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Malibu Rising, I immediately ordered Carrie Soto Is Back once I saw it had been released.
Carrie Soto is a thirty-seven-year-old retired professional tennis player who used to be the best woman’s tennis player in the world. When another tennis champion, Nicki Chan, comes close to breaking one of her records, Carrie decides to come out of retirement to defend her title.
Carrie Soto Is Back is a tight, breezy novel that packs a lot of emotion and excitement into its pages. Unlike some of other Reid’s novels, which feature complex storylines and large casts of characters, Carrie Soto focuses entirely on the development of its protagonist and her relationships with a handful of people. This focus allows Reid to craft a brilliantly flawed, complex, and believable protagonist who we can root for, even when she makes mistakes and treats those around her poorly. Carrie’s character arc unfolds amid the exciting atmosphere of tennis tournaments. The focus and character work in this book make it my favorite so far of the Taylor Jenkins Reid books I have read.
Reid also does a spectacular job writing Carrie’s relationships with her father, Javier, and her sparring partner, Bowe Huntley. Javier and Bowe are flawed but lovable, and the dialogue and banter between Carrie and the other characters add to the book’s entertainment value. Writing realistic relationships between characters has always been Reid’s strength, and it shines through in this novel
Although the storyline does not contain any surprises, it is nonetheless an exciting and inspiring journey to see Carrie grow as a person and as a player. Reid also sprinkles in commentary about feminism, aging, sports, and celebrity culture that is (usually) not too on-the-nose. 
My one gripe with the book was the awkwardness of the Spanish words, phrases, and sentences Carrie and her father exchange with each other. I’m all for sprinkling in non-English components into dialogue to characterize a bilingual interaction, but the Spanish here felt clunky and forced. I’m not bilingual, but it did not feel like an authentic fusion of the Spanish and English languages. The sentences were so basic that they felt like they were written by someone with only a few years of high school Spanish under their belt. 
The Run-Down: 
You will probably like Carrie Soto Is Back if:
·      You have enjoyed any other books by Taylor Jenkins Reid
·      You like a good underdog sports story
·      You enjoy witty banter between flawed but lovable characters
·      You like watching a main character learn and grow
You might not like Carrie Soto is Back if:
·      You dislike Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing style
·      You despise messy, flawed, and occasionally cruel main characters
A Similar Text:
Borg vs. McEnroe (2017). I chose a movie rather than a book for two reasons: one, Carrie Soto Is Back reads very much like a movie. Secondly, Borg vs. McEnroe has much in common with Carrie Soto—in fact, the Borg/McEnroe rivalry is referenced in Carrie Soto. Similarities between these texts include:
·      Stories about tennis world champions
·      Deeply flawed protagonists
·      Discussions of sports and celebrity culture
·      Depictions of characters who push their bodies to the limit for the sake of competition

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