Book review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Publisher: Hutchinson

Publication date: 27 May 2021

Genre: Historical/commercial fiction

Page count: 384 pages

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A lifetime holding it together.
One party will bring it crashing down.

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 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 bubbling 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.
 

Malibu Rising is the latest, highly anticipated release from Taylor Jenkins Reid — fans of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones. While this book has crossover with the other two — they take place in the same ‘universe’ — Malibu Rising is a very different story. It depicts the dark side of fame and the ones it can leave behind.

This book twists together multiple points of view and timelines to tell the story of a single family — one mother and four children are abandoned by Mick Riva after his rise to incredible fame. Fame has been a destructive force for these people, but it also lifts them out of poverty. I love the duality of the narrative and the attitudes of the Riva family toward their and Mick’s success. The result is a complex tale with conflicted characters that I couldn’t put down.

Nina, who I think is safe to say is the main character in this book, has a particularly complicated relationship with fame and it makes her story arc is so interesting. She’s a bit of a doormat at the beginning of the modern storyline, but because we get the full story on her background and how she grew up, she’s actually fascinating and her story arc is so good. She isn’t the only member of the family with complicated relationships. The Riva’s aren’t necessarily easy to love, but they’re fascinating and I loved reading each of their points of view.

There are two things that I particularly loved about this book. The first is the randomly inserted points of view of partygoers in the modern storyline. Juggling multiple points of view is quite a difficult feat and Reid pulls it off perfect, giving us a glimpse into the ridiculous excess of the partygoers and the wild night unfolding. The second thing I loved is the wonderful depiction of rural Malibu. Having grown up in Los Angeles, I’m pretty familiar with Malibu. I think I can safely say that the opening of the book is the most perfect description of that area that I’ve ever read.

I think Malibu Rising will divide fans of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones, but for me this book was a winner.


Want to pick up a copy of Malibu Rising for yourself? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links): 

Blackwells | Book Depository

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