Intensity marks Thomas's beautiful memoir, which is a meticulously detailed, often darkly funny account of her hot pursuit of a dream deferred ... The wins and losses...add up to a smart, clever and very suspenseful point-by-point re-enactment. Readers—especially the competitively inclined—will root for Thomas to go the distance and emerge a victor both on and off the court ... Thomas's body of writing consistently features sharp, likable and captivating heroines who often riff incisively on the perils and glories of contemporary living and modernity with sarcastic wit and self-deprecation. With Thomas serving as narrator for the multi-layered, no-holds-barred odyssey of her ascent into middle age, she emerges as a top seed and the very best of them all.
Readers should be prepared for pages detailing tennis matches—a basic understanding of the game and scoring is a prequisite—as well as irritation with Thomas in moments of bold self-absorption. At the same time, the author’s honesty is also what makes this memoir appealing, and Thomas’ insights into the world of amateur tennis are compelling. A capable memoir for those who love tennis and competition.
Her own coming-of-age story is written in the style of her novels, and the author’s characteristic acerbic wit shines through. The memoir will thus be a joy to Thomas’s fans but might be off-putting to those uninterested in her upper-middle-class lifestyle and her indulgence in jealousy, complaints, and criticism of self and others ... Thomas’s writing is darkly funny at times, and she brings readers along as she navigates the death of her beloved dog and caring for her aging parents ... Most readers will need to have a keen interest in playing tennis to appreciate this memoir’s focus but they might be rewarded with a meditation on the psychology behind a tennis obsession.
Thomas serves an ace of a memoir with this trenchant account about the pains of getting older ... Though her wit is entrancing, the most striking characteristic of Thomas’s narrative is its refusal to end with 'what I learned' enlightenment. Instead, she writes, 'I have now pretty much made peace with the fact that I was a bit of an idiot in 2014.' This window into midlife desire is cathartic, amusing reading for anyone who’s wanted desperately to win.
With its obsessive attention to such details as tennis equipment, attire, and events on the court during matches, much of the story is tedious and often overshadows the more compelling emotional and socio-economic aspects underlying the author’s brutal need to win. Ultimately, Thomas hints at rather than consciously explores the reasons behind her fall from tennis grace, and the book’s appeal may be limited to those who share the author’s love of tennis ... An interesting but flawed narrative experiment.