Once the best tennis player in the world, Carrie Soto smashed records and claimed Grand Slam titles, but when her knee began giving her trouble, she retired, leaving it all behind. Or so she thought. Now there’s a new phenom on the court, Nicki Chan. She’s coming for Carrie’s record, so Carrie decides to come out of retirement to defend her title. She’s 37 years old, and if she wins she’ll be the oldest player do to so. But her body isn’t quite what it was, and she’s out of practice. Her father, Javier, returns as her coach also, and together they head into battle.
I expected this to be a fun, distracting read that I liked well enough, given my hit or miss record with Jenkins Reid (loved Daisy Jones, Malibu was fine, couldn’t get on with Evelyn Hugo). Instead I was pulled in from the get go and fully rooting for Carrie in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Coming out of retirement to defend a title to me seems absurd. Let people take your record! You can’t hold it forever. But no. I wanted it for her as much as she did. Jenkins Reid did a fantastic job of putting me on her side. There are article extracts and transcripts of sports ‘pundits’ talking smack about Carrie and that was enough for me. I loved that she was fierce and determined and not out to make friends. They call her a bitch and the Battle Axe but she’s not those things. She makes total sense as a character. I loved her vulnerabilities.
All the supporting characters are wonderful too, and there’s a lovely, quiet romance happening along side Carrie’s journey. And, though I should have seen it coming, a death that really rocked me. I lost my mother last year and this part about grief really spoke to me:
Grief is like a deep, dark hole. It calls like a siren: Come to me, lose yourself here. And you fight it and you fight it, but when you finally do succumb and jump down into it, you can’t quite believe how deep it is. It feels as if this is how you will live for the rest of your life, falling. Terrified and devastated, until you yourself die.
As for the tennis, I have never played tennis or watched the sport that much, but for me it all made sense and worked well to raise tension and keep me invested.
Really loved this one.