Malibu Rising Book Review

How were you supposed to change—in ways both big and small—when your family was always there to remind you of exactly the person you apparently signed an ironclad contract to be?” — Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising

The Rivas siblings are tightly knit. Nina, the eldest, is a supermodel; Jay is a championship surfer, Hud a renowned photographer, and Kit is their adored teenaged sister. They’re a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over, especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

It’s August 1983, the day of Nina’s annual end-of-summer party. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas, movie stars, recording artists, authors, business tycoons, models; anyone who is anyone will be there rubbing shoulders. 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 just been publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Kit and Hud are also anxious about the party; they have secrets to confess.

By midnight, the party is out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion has gone up in flames and the lives of the siblings are irrevocably changed.

Malibu Rising is the winner of the 2021 Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction and is another bestseller for Reid. She always has fascinating plots, and this book is no exception. It describes what life is like for the rich and famous—I’ve never been either, so I assume it is accurate. She drops many famous names throughout the novel, particularly in the scenes of the party. Other than her epic plots, I am especially impressed by Reid’s characters. They are always complex and splendidly flawed, albeit not all of them are likeable. The relationships between the siblings are beautiful because of the hardship they’ve experienced together. In Malibu, there are a lot of characters, yet I could easily keep them straight. That is true writing talent.

The author uses multiple perspectives to tell the story, and alternates between the siblings’ current day lives and the story of their past: how their parents, Mick and June, met in the 1950s, fell in love, and had a tumultuous relationship. That drew me in – I truly wanted the best for them (well, except for their deadbeat dad). However, not all the scenes are realistic, one toward the end in particular, but overall, I could imagine the storyline happening in real life. But the ending… read it for the ending! 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.

Oh, I almost forgot. Fans of Daisy Jones and the Six (me, me, ME) will be pleased to hear the novel is being adapted into a limited series for Amazon. YAY!

Published Date: June 2021
Genres: Historical fiction, parallel narratives
Read-alikes: The Turner House by Angela Flournoy; After Dark by Huraki Murakami; L.A. Weather by Maria Amparo Escandon; The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, Commonwealth by Ann Patchett; The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo.

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