Dark Thrill reviews: Carrie Soto is Back the Newest by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Bill Durham is one of my favorite movies; it is such a fun concept: a washed-up sports pro taking one more swing at glory. Carrie Soto is back is following in those footsteps, but then again, Carrie, a retired tennis pro, has received all the accolades, wins, and prize money, and she never let herself go after retirement. No, she was always on top of the world and could be resting on her laurels. But that is her problem. Carrie Soto is back is a novel about a woman struggling with perfectionism and how to deal with perfectionism when you have the ability to be flawless. Most of us will never achieve that level of excellence, so perfectionism might be a crux that blocks us from doing the work. But what if you could be the very best? What does it do to you when you are still not satisfied and done after arriving on top?

The tricky thing about such a protagonist is that she is not very relatable. Still, Taylor Jenkins Reid is the kind of writer that pulls you into a protagonist like that and shows you the inner world of somebody the world sees as cold, calculated, and impenetrable. 
She is not. But she was always so busy getting somewhere that her emotional development was stunted. 
The story starts when Carrie Soto decides to make a comeback, spurred on by the inability to let go of her precious record of Grand Slam wins. When the then-champion is about to break hers, Carrie vows to start training again and show everyone that she is and always will be the best. 
So, no, this is not Bill Durham, where a talented player never was able to achieve what his talent deserved. This is the story of a winner who wants to win even more. The journalists and sports commentators in the book serve to voice some of our own opinions on a person like that, and I loved that Carrie Soto is back explores a role that, for women, is seen as an unsympathetic one. 
Reading the commentators dismiss Carrie and call her names is a neat trick to get us on Carrie's side, and her wonderful relationship with her father/trainer further warms our hearts. 
The novel follows her training, with lots of ups and downs, and each Grand Slam, with exquisite descriptions of pure tennis. It even throws in a romance with another player, a closer fit to a Bill Durham character, a tennis pro who never risen to Carrie's highs and now has to accept his age and failing body. Like Carrie, he's still attempting to hold on to his tennis career. 
Carrie Soto is back is such a compulsive read; the plot is relatively straightforward and entirely suits Carrie's personality. That is the aspect I loved the most, how the style and the emotions fit the determined, intelligent and capable character so well. If you don't play or watch tennis, this might be too specific for you, but if you do, Carrie Soto is back is a treat.