2 Sentence Summary
In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel, “Carrie Soto is Back,” we follow the journey of a retired tennis pro, “Carrie” as she returns to the sport to defend her legacy. The story explores her struggles with greatness, fear of loss, and the challenges faced by women in professional tennis. It’s a compelling tale of determination and resilience in the world of sports.
Summary Read Time: Less than 5 minutes
Actual Book Length: 384
First Published in: 2022
Below is the detailed yet quick Carrie Soto Is Back book summary:
In the bustling arena of the 1994 US Open, we find Carolina “Carrie” Soto beside her father, Javier, absorbing a riveting final between Nicki Chan and Ingrid Cortez. A victory for Nicki implies a tie with Carrie’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles – a feat achieved before her retirement in 1989. When Nicki prevails, Carrie’s competitive spirit is rekindled, leading her to reenter the world of tennis under the guidance of her father.
The narrative gracefully rewinds to Carrie’s childhood, casting light on Javier’s journey from Argentina to the United States in 1953. A former professional tennis player himself, Javier fosters an early love for the sport in Carrie. A tragic car accident claims Carrie’s mother’s life, driving Javier to immerse himself and his daughter in tennis. Javier envisions Carrie as the future greatest player, likening her to Achilles from The Iliad.
Propelled by her father’s relentless drive, Carrie’s skill accelerates, catapulting her onto the main women’s tennis tour. During her inaugural tournament, she encounters Paulina Stepanova, sparking a fiery rivalry. Carrie’s aloof, determined demeanor earns her the moniker “Battle Axe”. She secures her first Grand Slam, followed by three more before her 20th birthday.
Despite her victories, Paulina’s superior ranking gnaws at Carrie’s ambition. A clash with Javier leads her to Lars van de Berg, whose coaching strategy elevates her to the top but at a significant cost – a knee injury. Off-court, Carrie’s romantic life is tumultuous; she navigates brief affairs and a painful breakup with a married player, leading her to distance herself from men.
In 1987, Carrie etches her name in tennis history by clinching the record for the highest number of singles Slam titles. However, a persistent knee injury forces her into early retirement in 1989.
Fast forward to 1994, where an invigorated Carrie reunites with Javier for training. With the help of her agent, Gwen Davis, she pairs up with a former flame and professional player, Bowe Huntley, for practice sessions. Although initially hesitant, Carrie gradually forms a close friendship with Bowe.
Her comeback tournament, the Australian Open in 1995, sees her progress several rounds before succumbing to Cortez. Despite her frustration, Javier commends her efforts and pushes her to prepare for the French Open. As her bond with Bowe deepens, Javier encourages her to embrace the potential for love.
Carrie shows immense resilience at the French Open, advancing to the quarterfinal and expressing a rare display of vulnerability by crying in front of her supporters. Yet, the prospect of Nicki breaking her record preys on Javier’s mind.
Carrie’s defeat to Natasha Antonovich leads to a heated disagreement between father and daughter, which is only diffused when Nicki indeed surpasses Carrie’s record. Meanwhile, a comforting encounter with Bowe evolves into a romantic interlude. The narrative takes an unexpected turn when Javier collapses, necessitating heart surgery. Although unable to travel, Javier remains determined to help Carrie train for Wimbledon.
Part 3 – How Does “Carrie Soto Is Back” Book End?
Navigating through her concerns, Carrie finds herself frequently crossing paths with Nicki due to practicing on the same courts. One day, Carrie extends an olive branch, inviting Nicki for a drink. An unexpected camaraderie blossoms, even with the knowledge that they are both vying for victory on the court. In a twist of fate, Nicki gets ousted in the semifinals, paving the way for a riveting face-off between Carrie and Cortez in the final round, which Carrie clinches.
Returning home, Carrie discovers Bowe’s diligent care for Javier. Javier’s pride in Carrie’s game, not her victory, tugs at her heartstrings. He nudges her to explore the potential of a serious relationship with Bowe, which Carrie considers while enjoying a dinner with him. Their interaction leaves her yearning for the simplicity and warmth of a ‘normal’ life.
The shocking blow arrives when Javier fails to appear for practice and Carrie finds him lifeless. Gwen and Bowe stand by her in her hour of grief. Questions about her future in the upcoming US Open loom large.
However, the discovery of Javier’s notebook, filled with strategies against every WTA player, spurs her to compete in his honor. Bowe, after bowing out of the tournament gracefully, declares his love for Carrie.
In the finals against Nicki, Carrie relishes the thrill of the game more than the desire to win. Her eventual loss, surprisingly, liberates her, ending her relentless quest to be the best. As the book concludes, we find her a year later at the 1996 US Open, coaching Nicki and happily involved with Bowe.