November 17, 2021

Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published June 1, 2021
by Ballantine Books

Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Literary Fiction / Women’s Fiction

From the Publisher:

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.

My Thoughts:

Taylor Jenkins Reid has a new member of her fan club now. Me. I recently finished reading and listening to Malibu Rising and it was terrific.

As TJR writes in a letter to her readers, “Malibu Rising is the story of the Riva family … It’s a story about fame and the objectification of women. It’s a story about sibling rivalries, about parenthood, and about marriage. And the ways we repeat the mistakes of our parents.” The setting is the beautiful coast of California, specifically Malibu, which is basically another character in the story. It centers around a wild party at the end of the summer of 1983, an annual party tradition going back several years. We get to live that day and night, hour by hour, interrupted by flashbacks to the 1950s through the 1970s, where we learn the events that “made” our main characters, the Riva family: the oldest daughter, Nina, the two brothers, Jay and Hud (short for Hudson), and the youngest sister, Kit, where we learn how the parents, Mick and June met and their up-and-down-and-up-and-down relationship over the years. We learn to care about these people. The theme of rising from the ashes is an apt one indeed.

I read another book recently that used the same format – one day, hour by hour, interspersed with a lot of flashbacks. That was The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller. In my opinion, Taylor Jenkins Reid did it a whole lot better!

I can’t wait to check out TJR’s other books (and I understand that Mick Riva is a character in two others!). While I received the eARC from NetGalley, I wound up mostly listening to the published audiobook by Random House Audio. The narrator, Julia Whelan, did an excellent job with the many voices. She’s a favorite narrator of mine.