Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published June 1st 2021 by Ballantine Books

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 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.

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5 Stars

 I already want to read/listen to this again. It's just that good. 1980's California is a dream, but the Riva family's past isn't. With the party of the year happening that night, the Riva siblings grapple with the past and figuring out who they really are under their father's stardom and the fading memories of their mother. Taylor Jenkins Reid takes us into the past, into the love story of Mick Riva and innocent June. We meet the four Riva siblings as they are brought into the world and with each present day chapter we catch up on where they are and the decision they have to make as the party draws near. Everyone who is anyone comes to the party, but the Riva siblings have lost control of it as it grows like wildfire.

Let's be real, I read anything TJR writes, but I wasn't sure Malibu Rising would hit the same as The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo did and I couldn't imagine celebrity characters without thinking of Daisy Jones and the Six. It's a more present history, but the story is just as impactful, the characters so well developed, and it remains just as relevant as the previous two novels did. TJR writes about history that captures the momentous moments (ha) that have created ripples and waves of change today. Malibu Rising may be about the Riva family, their secrets, their anguish, their bond, but it is also about the changing tides of the 1950's to the 1980's, about feminism and liberalism. These characters are divorced, have multiple partners, are raising children who aren't their own, and are female business owners.

Like other readers, I loved Nina's story arc the most, she's roughly my age and her desire to be respected for more than her body is so painful, but so true for most women. I also related to her role in the household, she grew up before she should have and in growing up she lost the ability to think for just her. Watching her discover that, with the rowdy party raging around her, is a really powerful few chapters. Then there's Kit, oh Kit, and Hud, and Jay, and the sibling love they have for one another even when none of it makes sense. Malibu Rising is somehow both complex and lighthearted. A beach read with a bit more to it. It's the sort of read I can return to, but also one that is influential in many ways. It more than lived up to the hype for me.


  1. Great review! I really need to read this one. I keep seeing it everywhere!

  2. Wonderful review Carlene. I was not a big fan of Daisy Jones, in fact it was a DNF for me, but you have convinced me to give this one a try.

    1. Thank you so much, Carla. This one is written more like Evelyn Hugo than Daisy Jones. Let me know what you think!


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