Book Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and Random House U.K. (Cornerstone/ Hutchinson) in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer: This book contains abandonment, adoption, cheating/affairs, death, drug and alcohol use.

A full list of trigger warnings can be found here.


A lifetime holding it together.

One party will bring it crashing down.

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 is a name that is on plenty of book lovers lips (and reading lists) but, whilst her name is familiar, this was my first time reading one of her books (madness I know!) and what a great book to start with!

Malibu Rising takes place in the same universe as The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and The Six which initially worried me but — aside from a few call backs to characters from these books —- this didn’t make it difficult for me, as a new reader, to get into this book.

This book spans decades but primarily switches between a party taking place in 1980s Malibu and the early lives of the party host, Nina Riva, and her siblings: Jay, Hud and Kit. I was initially worried I wouldn’t get into this one but, from the moment we were introduced to June and Mick, I fell hook line and sinker.

Reid takes the reader through the incredible highs and devastating lows of the young lover’s story which was enthralling and heartbreaking in equal measure. I usually have trouble visualising books set in the past but Reid’s writing is so vivid and detailed every part feels so real, every character feels like someone you’d pass on the street.

I loved the fast paced love story between Mick and June and — despite myself —- I really hoped it’d work out.

The real life joys and problems continue on to the next generation of Rivas, as they navigate secrets, infidelity, their own sexuality and the past. I loved reading the parts set in the past and seeing how the past has shaped the characters and who they will become. After the heartbreak and trauma they go through, you truly do root for them in the later scenes.

I don’t tend to get on well with time hopping narratives but there was no confusion with this one, which was great! The only slight confusion I had was navigating who the party goers were as Reid piled a lot of characters into the latter sections of the book. Regardless though, I really liked going between the past and the present.

I’m so used to love stories but this isn’t it. Malibu Rising is a story about love, about family and about how one night changes a collection of people.

You can purchase Malibu Rising here

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14 thoughts on “Book Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  1. I’ve read Daisy Jones and The Six and loved it! Might add this one to my TBR list 🙂 I can’t decide if I’d like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo but maybe I’ll give that a try too!

    Liked by 1 person

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