Game, Set, and Matched!

Book Review for “Carrie Soto is Back” by Taylor Jenkins-Reid.

#ad Thanks for the free book PRH International!

Summary: 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 Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier 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.” 

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Historical/Contemporary; World-wide Locations; USA – Los Angeles; Other Categories: Novel, Coming-of-Age, Diverse Authors, Sports – Tennis.

Carrie Soto is Back

Well… well, well, well, WELL! Okay, so… let’s start out by saying that no, I’m not a huge fan of tennis. I mean, I’m not a big sports fan in general, to be honest. It isn’t like I’ve never seen a tennis match, and I know my mother liked playing the game for fun. My father-in-law was the big tennis fan in the family, and he would go on and on about this player or that player; he’d watch every match that was on TV with total devotion. So, when I started reading this novel, I wasn’t sure how much I would get into the whole tennis thing. Mind you, I hate hockey, and I still loved both of Fredrik Backman’s Beartown books (and the last one is already on my Kindle), so it isn’t like I can’t appreciate a novel that deals with sports. Even so, I didn’t think I’d get so involved with this story, but boy, oh boy, did I ever get involved!

You see, even though the whole tennis thing was a big part of this book, it wasn’t really a Tennis Novel – much like the Beartown books aren’t really Hockey Novels. No, the sports in these books are more vehicles for something far more universal than playing a game. Also, it isn’t always about winning the game, either. That’s because what it takes to achieve something, or what it takes to master something, isn’t always the point. The whole point of achievement and mastery isn’t just the act, it is also becoming someone you weren’t before you started out; it is learning about yourself, through learning how to do that particular thing. This is the main reason why I’m calling this a coming-of-age story, because that is, technically, the definition of this type of tale. If there is no growth or change in the main protagonist, there is no coming-of-age. And again, as I’m said many times, some people come of age when they’re young adults, while others take many years, even several decades to reach that point in their lives.

Now, I’m going to say right here that as compelling (sorry, do I use that word too much? Maybe I should use captivating instead) as this novel is, I am forced to withhold a quarter of a star. The main reasons for that were two-fold. First, while I get that Carrie Soto is Latinx, I sadly don’t know Spanish, and I felt that I missed some things – subtle inferences or emotions – because they were expressed in Spanish, and I wasn’t able to deduct what was being said in several instances. It is probably unfair of me to say that, because I also know that if they’d been immediately translated, it would have totally ruined the flow of the narrative. The other reason is that as much as I admired Carrie, and loved her father, I was missing that extra bit of emotional connection to them which usually makes me choke up. Yes, there was one bit that made me laugh, but that was only because Reid gave a nod here to one of her previous novels. Again, I admit that it might have been my not understanding Spanish that caused that slight disconnect here.

Despite that, this novel is simply marvelous. The way that Reid builds the tension in the novel is practically a study in how to write thrillers, without even a drop of blood. Reid also knows just how to play the other characters against her main protagonist, and allow for the type of relationships (I can’t really say romance) that have no angst, but are filled with conflict. Finally, I swear I could see every jump and lunge and volley that happened during the games she described, as if I was actually watching the games on TV or sitting court side. There’s no doubt that I’m recommending this novel very warmly, with my 4.75 out of five-star rating (rounded up to 5 for the graphic). While this book doesn’t surpass Daisy Jones for me, it certainly comes in an extremely close second!


fc16c-netgalleytinyBallantine Books released “Carrie Soto is Back” by Taylor Jenkins Reid on August 30, 2022. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website,, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via NetGalley.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Release Challenge (#39), Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (#33); 20 Books of Summer 22 (#15).

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13 thoughts on “Game, Set, and Matched!

  1. I still haven’t read any Taylor Jenkins-Reid novels. They all get such good reviews, I really should read one.

    Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, if you like her type of literary fiction, you might enjoy her books. She doesn’t do straight historical since they’re more like stories that start at an historical spot and move from there.


  2. Great review Davida. I had to giggle when you mentioned using the word ‘compelling’ too much. I constantly struggle with finding ways to describe novels that don’t sound repetitive. It is one of the bug-bears of being a book reviewer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m reading this just now and enjoying it. Totally with you on the Spanish. Can guess some but not all. I’m finding just a bit too much tennis detail in the actual matches. Evelyn Hugo so far remains my favourite TJR.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve read a couple of this author’s books and enjoyed them, especially Daisy Jones. I must admit it was the tennis angle that made me hesitate, but it’s going on my list after reading your review. Great post header too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t heard of this novel, but am adding it to my TBR after your glowing review. It sounds like it would make a fantastic movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been tempted by this! I noticed on IG that she’s taking heat for not being a Spanish author (like the American Dirt controversy). This seems like it would pair well with Open by Agassi.

    Liked by 1 person

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