Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of Daisy Jones and The Six returns with a gloriously meaty evocation of 1980s California luxury and excess, and one night that will send the Riva family’s glittering world crumbling down around them.
Malibu Rising tells the story of a dysfunctional, well-known family who throws a massive annual celebration in Malibu.
Everything is going according to plan, and celebrities from all walks of life are having a good time – until something occurs in 24 hours that changes the family’s lives forever.
We will talk about what happens in this story in more detail and will follow it with an in depth review.
What Is Malibu Rising About?
Nina wakes up in 1983 to a day she is dreading. It’s the day before her yearly party at her big property on Point Dume, high above the ocean. But things aren’t going well in her life, and she’s not sure she wants to be around so many people today.
Nina, on the other hand, is a survivor and a doer, so she steels herself to simply get on with it. Her first task is to meet up with her younger siblings at the family restaurant she’s now in charge of, and then maybe go surfing at the beach.
The way it works is that if you know the address of the party, you’re invited – Nina is anticipating a large crowd tonight.
Nina is a tall, lithe, altruistic, proud, and capable young woman who, at the age of 17, saved her three younger siblings from social services.
Nina and her two brothers are well-known: Jay is a world-class surfer. Hud is a skilled photographer who “captures what his brother can achieve on the board in ideal light and action.”
Kit, the youngest member of the surfing-gifted family, is the unrecognized finest athlete. At the age of 20, she has never been kissed and is debating the reasons behind this.
June is their mother, a nice woman who meets an unknown Mick in 1956. Despite her mother’s concerns about what may happen after their first kiss.
Mick Riva, an aspiring singer, is relaxing on the beach when he notices June, the daughter of a local restaurant’s proprietors, posing in her new bikini.
Mick, who is instantly drawn to her, takes no time in introducing himself and then seducing her with his slick manners and confident ambition.
He promises to purchase her the mansion of her dreams when he becomes famous.
When the bookings start to pile up and the route to fame and money looks like it could finally happen, he buys the beach house he always promised her he would.
Mick is soon sidetracked by a beautiful woman, then another, and another, for a total of six weddings. He is not a bad guy. He may be a deadbeat dad, but isn’t it his parents’ fault for providing such poor models of parenting and fidelity?
Following the establishment of the family’s history in the first few chapters, we are transported back to 1983, when Nina is preparing for her annual summer party, which she is not very happy about because she dislikes being the focus of attention.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting down the minutes till the girl he can’t stop thinking about says she’ll be there.
And Kit has a few secrets of her own, including a visitor she invited without informing anybody.
The celebration will be absolutely out of control by midnight. The Riva house will be in flames by the morning. However, before that first spark in the early hours of the morning, the booze will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that have molded this family’s generations will all bubble to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a narrative about one extraordinary night in a family’s life: the night they each have to pick what they will retain from the people who created them… and what they will leave behind.
Malibu Rising Review
It began as a love tale, but Mick Riva wasn’t created to love only one lady; he was made for a career in music, and that’s exactly what he accomplished. June, his wife, was designed for loving, but since her husband was away, she simply had to love her children.
Nina, Jay, and the third, who wasn’t her child at all, but she couldn’t just turn her back on Mick’s son Hud, who had been abandoned by his mother.
Last but not least, Kit, who was born after her parents’ relationship had already broken down multiple times.
While Mick was abroad, June looked after the kids until she couldn’t longer, at which point Nina took over.
Nina, the oldest, is the one in charge. The person in charge. The blanket. The one who will forego her own ambitions and dreams in order to keep her family intact.
If that means working as a well-paid model in the public glare when she’d rather be surfing in peace, she’ll prioritize everyone else’s demands.
Jay and Hud are siblings from different moms who are virtually identical in age and nature, frequently traveling together as adventurers. Jay is a professional surfer, and the sensitive-natured Hud pictures him for publications.
Kit is the youngest, a no-nonsense girl who is overshadowed by her gorgeous and skilled elder brothers, yet she is arguably the best surfer in the family.
Nina, the eldest sibling, raises her brothers and sister while her mother is still living, and this obligation affects her in ways that cause her to have no feeling of self-preservation, no sense of care for her personal space or emotions.
All of the youngsters feel abandoned, but they have each other, and that sense of belonging is invaluable. Everyone wants to know, be with, and be with the siblings since they are all extremely gifted in showy ways.
Reid does an excellent job of infusing her characters’ and their life experiences with just enough idiosyncrasies and wrinkles to make them feel real, as if you were reading about real people rather than fictitious ones.
She then combines those personalities in captivating narratives that are simple to get lost in, all set against a backdrop of sun-kissed beaches with bright sand that paints the picture of a peaceful paradise.
As we approach and attend the party, things come to a head. All these wealthy, powerful, narcissistic people, mixed in with those who want those things, gather at the party and it’s a disgusting affair of debauchery, drugs, alcohol, and sex.
In the first section of the book, all of these diverse interactions are created in two timeframes. One follows the events leading up to the major summer party, while the other focuses on June and Mick’s romance.
Part Two abandons the split timeline in favor of an hour-by-hour description of the happenings during the renowned Riva party.
Every major celebrity is present, and things get out of hand. You are introduced to a slew of new people who explain their importance in the business and why they are there.
This is another tale of rags to riches, glamour, and all the problems that come with fame, with great musicians who are serial adulterers, bombshell surf models, and famous tennis players.
With the addition of a slew of other POVs from celebrities we don’t care about to begin with, this can be distracting when we’re engaged in the Riva family. Fortunately, these POVs are brief and do not take long to read.
It’s a quick read, and you will love to get to know Mick, June, Nina, and the other characters. There is some drama here, as well as solid character development, and the author does an excellent job of bringing the scene to life.
Overall, Malibu Rising is a great summer read as the cover picture suggests, since the characters all love to surf and own a restaurant near the seaside.
As you read this fast-paced novel of family conflict, love, heartbreak, and Malibu on fire, you can almost feel the salt in the air, your hair twisted in the salty wind, and the warm sand under your feet.
However, there are a few parts of the story’s presentation that some may find objectionable. When it comes to the family drama, the book’s framework detracts from the tension.
This is because Reid portrays it as a survivor narrative, with people overcoming hardship. The difficulty is that we know everything will be alright for all of them because we see them in the first chapter in the present day and they’re all doing well.
On the surface, this narrative appears to be nothing extraordinary. It’s a story about functioning and dysfunctional relationships and families wrapped together in a party environment, and it’s been done before.
Taylor Jenkins Reid, on the other hand, adds so much more to it. When reading this book, you will feel it in the characters, the writing, and the narrative that is greater than the sum of its parts. It will draw you in and keep you hooked until the final page.
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