This post contains links to products that I may receive compensation from at no additional cost to you. View my Affiliate Disclosure page here.
Book club questions for Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid takes an in-depth look at this novel about a tennis star’s return to the game. There will be spoilers so for more context about the novel, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I finished the novel as a big fan of Carrie! And let me tell you, there are parts of the novel where I kept thinking, ‘geez, Carrie is A LOT.’ But I really warmed up to her and I just love her character journey.
It’s never too late to grow and evolve while still staying true to who you are. Carrie is a perfect representation of that. She changed but is still the same Carrie—just with a bit more perspective.
I know TJR doesn’t tend to do sequels often but I would love to read a semi-sequel about Nicki Chan’s journey. She was fantastic as well and I want to know more about her. Fingers crossed she’ll be featured one day!
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. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.
Book Club Questions for Carrie Soto Is Back
- Did you read Malibu Rising? Why do you think TJR decided to feature Carrie Soto in her own novel?
- Why did Carrie decide to come out of retirement? What was she trying to prove?
- We follow Carrie on her journey to return to the sport. Why did she want her father Javier to coach her again? What did her father teach her that no one else can?
- Carrie is fiercely competitive and does not shy away from boasting that she is the best. When a male athlete exhibits this behavior, he is praised. But in Carrie’s position, she’s ridiculed. Why are women athletes treated different than male ones?
- Carrie never tried to make friends with other tennis athletes. And while there is a competitive nature to it, we also find out she’s afraid of getting close to anyone after losing her mother at such a young age. Let’s talk about the impact of losing her mother on both Carrie and her father.
- She eventually starts to train with Bowe Huntley, a bad boy of tennis that she once had a fling with. What did you think about their relationship? Are they a good fit? What did they both learn from each other?
- For Bowe, not competing would be a disservice to himself. Even if he loses, he at least competed. But for Carrie, she feels that losing is the absolute worst thing in the world. Why does she feel like losing is the ultimate sorrow?
- What was your impression of all the matches and the behind the scenes look at her thought process as she plays? Do you watch tennis?
- Let’s now talk about her dynamic with Nicki Chan. In what was were they similar? And how are they different? When did Carrie start to view her differently than other competitors?
- Javier falls ill and eventually passes away from a heart attack right before Carrie’s big run in the US Open. How did losing her father change everything for Carrie?
- Carrie does play Nicki and she loses. And Carrie completely accepts defeat. Let’s discuss this character growth for Carrie.
- How did Carrie evolve from the beginning of the novel to the end?
- Carrie finally retires for good and becomes a coach, like her father. She is the coach for Nicki now and is still with Bowe. What are your thoughts about the ending? What happens next for Carrie?
- Did you highlight any passages or did any quotes stand out to you?
- What are some of the key themes that resonated?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Carrie Soto Is Back! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
If you haven’t read Malibu Rising yet (there is a couple scenes with Carrie in it), I highly recommend it!
Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
Another impactful story I’ve read this year is One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle. If you like TJR’s writing, give Rebecca Serle a try.
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: to Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.
But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.
Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature “heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.
Happy reading! Thanks for visiting book club questions for Carrie Soto!