by Taylor Jenkins Reid
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.
Huh, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would!
I never used to gravitate towards novels about famous people – and, in general, I still don’t, unless someone’s writing the kind of Chosen One aftermath story that I love – but I saw so many good reviews for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo that I couldn’t resist picking it up, and I ended up loving it. There’s something about the way Taylor Jenkins Reid writes rich people problems that means I can’t turn away. Unfortunately when I finally got around to Daisy Jones & The Six I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to, despite all the rave reviews, so I didn’t have particularly high hopes for Malibu Rising when I began to see more and more lukewarm reviews for it.
Luckily, this one worked for me!
What I’ve loved about Taylor Jenkins Reid’s celebrity novels so far is how characters from other books are sometimes mentioned or make a very brief appearance, like she’s making her very own alternate version of Hollywood. Malibu Rising primarily focuses on the four children of famous singer Mick Riva, who was one of Evelyn Hugo’s famous seven husbands and crashed one of Daisy Jones’s parties, on the run-up to the annual Riva party. Alongside this, we’re given flashbacks to how Mick met their mother, June, and their tumultuous childhood following the breakdown of their parents’ marriage.
I completely understand the criticisms of this book. There are times when it feels like two books woven together and, when the party commences, we start to get small snippets from the pov of various guests, but all of this worked for me. I loved following the siblings, but I also loved June, and I had a lot of fun learning about some of the guests and that anticipation you get in your gut when you just know you’re about to have a great night.
I love stories about families, especially siblings who pull together against the rest of the world, so I was bound to enjoy this one. We have Nina, a model and surfer who practically raised her brothers and sister; Jay, a championship surfer who might have to reconsider his career; Hud, a photographer who’s been keeping a secret from his brother; and Kit, who has a secret she hasn’t quite admitted to herself yet either. Hud is so very sweet, but for me it’s Nina and Kit who really shine in this novel – Nina, in particular, finds herself in a similar position to their mother in her relationship with her husband, and it’s really Nina’s journey from putting everyone else first to putting herself first that’s at the heart of this novel.
I’ve said before that I have a soft spot for stories in which an older sister acts as a mother figure for a younger sister – much like Nina does with Kit even though Kit, in typical youngest child fashion, is desperately trying to come into her own – because there are ten years between me and my oldest sister, and she was always so loving and patient with me when we were growing up. How many 17-year-olds do you know who don’t mind bringing their 7-year-old sister along to a cinema date with their boyfriend? Kit has such relatable and well written youngest child energy which, as a youngest child myself, I appreciated.
If you’re in the mood for an easy read this summer – I read this book in a few hours, so it’s ideal if you happen to live near a safe beach! – I recommend giving Malibu Rising a try.