Carrie Soto is Back

Posted on October 8, 2022

It’s been a while since my last review and I didn’t have a good reason for stopping. When I wrote my review for ‘Book Lovers’ I was pulling my hair out trying to write the things I liked and didn’t like about the book. I put so much effort into trying to sound smart when I should have just figured out how to have fun with it, how to laugh at everything, and go with the flow.

So I’m back. Here’s what’s happened since my last post.

I updated my website so you can see what I’m currently reading on Goodreads. My goal for the year is a book a week; so far, I’m at 40!

While I’ve read at least 20 books since ‘Book Lovers’ I also binged-read comics from Webtoons and I’m trying to write another post on my favorites so far. Stay tuned.

I wrote a review for ‘Carrie Soto is Back’ that you’re going to love! (I know that’s not news but I wanted to make three points because I’m weird.)

Carrie Soto is the best tennis player in the world, at least she was until Nicki Chan took her record in the US Open in 1994. After six years of retirement, Soto wants it back and she wants her father to coach her once again.

Known as “the Battle-Axe” in sports media, with her brutal tactics and blunt attitude, life as a tennis player hasn’t been forgiving. Not that Carrie cares about what other people think, or how a newscaster called her a bitch on tv, or how the only person who wanted to train with her was none other than Bowe Huntly, her short fling years ago. All that matters is that she wins the Wimbleton once again.

I actually had low expectations for Reid’s newest book after reading ‘Malibu Rising’ and reading a book about a sports prodigy raised by an ambitious parent didn’t seem appealing at first. I also had low expectations for Carrie from ‘Malibu Rising’, but when I read about Carrie and her father’s upbringing, I thought Carrie had more potential than being an angry ex-girlfriend

It’s refreshing to see the relationship dynamic Carrie has with everybody, but most importantly her father. He will always place himself as the voice of reason over being her coach because of how much he cares about her. While you see why tennis is important to her and her father’s lives, it is Carrie who is obsessed with winning. Because she prioritizes tennis over making friends, the relationships she has now are more important to the story than ever. Believe me, no one is harder on Carrie than herself.

“Do you have any idea how hard it is?” I shouted. It felt shocking to me, to hear my voice that loud. “To give everything you have to something and still not be able to grasp it! To fail to reach the top day after day and be expected to do it with a smile on your face?”

Personality wise there is little room for change and I think that is the point Reid tried to make when writing about Carrie. Soto will win often, and lose terribly, more than she thinks, but that doesn’t mean she will stop being “the Battle-Axe” because she won or lost a tournament.

Character development doesn’t need to lead to personality change, especially if the main character is deemed unlikable by others in the story. Reid doesn’t need to make Carrie appear “nicer” to show the story progression. On the TODAY Show, Reid reflects how different it felt writing a character so different from her other works.

“She doesn’t have the softness most women are told they need to cultivate. It was a breath of fresh air to spend time in her mind,” Reid told TODAY.

While Reid found something new with Soto, she still writes about the standards women have to uphold in the media.

“They wanted a woman whose eyes would tear up with gratitude, as if she owed them her victory, as if she owed them everything she had.”

It’s no secret that women have different expectations in life and tennis is no exception. Reid writes a textbook on how women, especially women of color, face setbacks while establishing a career in sports.

“Other women in tennis—blond women with big boobs and long legs—often get modeling contracts at age seventeen. They show up on the cover of men’s magazines within a year or so of hitting the court for the first time. But not thicker women, like me. Or dark-skinned women like Carla Perez or Suze Carter. Not women who are British Chinese, like Nicki, or downright scary in their intensity like her either. Not the women who aren’t skinny and white and smiling. And yet, no matter what type of woman you are, we all still have one thing in common: Once we are deemed too old, it doesn’t matter who we used to be.”

Women who are seen as skinny, beautiful, and charismatic seem to achieve more in their careers than those who focus on winning, like Carrie. While you get to see women like Carrie gain sponsors and brand deals, it’s obvious that it’s easier to be successful in the sports industry as a man than a woman.

“One of the great injustices of this rigged world we live in is that women are considered to be depleting with age and men are somehow deepening.”

That’s just a sample of one of the obstacles women face in sports, or any career, and Reid isn’t writing this because men are at fault. She’s putting the spotlight on the unequal standards placed on both men and women in media, and the evidence is bright.

While the book won’t solve misogyny overnight, Reid’s writing is powerful enough to stay with you. So if you enjoy fierce and unlikeable characters, I suggest reading ‘Carrie Soto is Back’.

Make sure to click on the Goodreads icon at the bottom to see what I’m currently reading.