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.
Malibu Rising is not an uplifting happy go-lucky book. It’s not a fast paced story with a high stakes plot. It’s a story about family that questions blood ties, fate and free will. Are we doomed to make the same mistakes as our parents? To follow in their footsteps or can we break the wheel?
Taylor Jenkins Reid writes the most beautiful stories. We get these gorgeous descriptions of Malibu while also getting these characters who seem larger than life yet so relatable. A twisted web of entangled storylines that mislead you at every turn only to finally reveal what the story is actually about and how it all connects. I really enjoyed this omniscient POV where we get to be in multiple people’s heads, to see things from their perspective to help create this well rounded picture. It was interesting and not something I’ve come across before.
The story itself follows the Rivas; both June and Mick’s story along with their children’s. Dual timelines in the first part that flashes back to 1950-1970 to give us the family history while simultaneously introducing us to the siblings and what their lives are like in present day 1983 (leading up to their epic annual party). The second part takes place throughout the night of said epic party. I thought it was done well and couldn’t turn away from the train wreck that was Mick and June and how throughly they screwed everything up. Fair warning, it’s not a love story.
I have to admit when I read the first few chapters I was thinking this was going to be some rich people problems type book. The more fame and money you have, the more problems right? This was not the case. It was a depressing, sad story that while slow at times always managed to keep my interest. So many parallels between June and her daughter Nina it hurt to watch but I couldn’t look away. Nina and her siblings Hud, Jay and Kit were this formidable unit that had the sibling relationship I’ve always craved. It was probably my favorite part of the book.
The book synopsis is a tad misleading with the talk of fires and Malibu burning. It just didn’t tie in well and probably could’ve just been left out. It was a book full of love and hope with a big dose of reality. Life isn’t always easy or pretty. If you’re looking for a book about family dynamics and relationships with no plot beyond that I highly recommend this one. It won’t be for everyone but it’s one I’d pick up and read again.