Books & Literature

Book Review: Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

GENERAL FICTION: Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a famous family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

The perfect book to take on holiday; a brilliant and well-written novel.

In Malibu in the 1980s, there’s only one party worth being seen at, and that’s the epic soiree hosted by the Riva family. With a famous father they never see, the four celebrity siblings—Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit—have learnt how to fend for themselves, never straying far when one of them needs support. In the days before the Riva party in 1983, everything changes. Nina’s husband has left her, Kit feels like she isn’t seen for her talent, Jay is having a medical crisis and Hud is hiding something from the sibling he’s closest to.

Just when everything seems to be snowballing into a disaster, the party begins. By midnight, the party has spiralled completely out of control in the most epic way possible. In true drug, sex and rock ‘n’ roll fashion, there’s swinging on the chandeliers, secrets spilt, and unwanted guests. What’s not to love about being famous?

What’s clever about the way that Taylor Jenkins Reid has written Malibu Rising, is not only has she invited us into the world of the Riva siblings, but she’s also featured the lives of their famous parents—Mick and June Riva. From both of their humble beginnings, their courtship, and their tumultuous relationship, Reid has allowed us to see the behind the scenes of a famous family. It’s not always happily ever after. Whether it’s truthful or not, the novel reads as a very honest account of how fame changes people and even makes you wonder if under the surface, they were a bad egg all along.

Reid is a master storyteller and that’s why people love her. Her books are always highly anticipated, with Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo being bestsellers, it’s no wonder Malibu Rising was gaining traction before it was even published. There are a lot of stories to follow, which could sometimes be slightly confusing, but I imagine it was Reid’s plan for the reader to know all facets of the story. To that end I’d say, sometimes it’s a good idea to keep some secrets under wrap until the end. If not for shock value, then to at least keep you wondering.

Having said that, this book gave me summer-lounging-on-a-beach vibes, and on that front it absolutely delivered. I wanted nothing more than to spend a lazy Sunday in Malibu with this book in my hands, which is unfortunately not how I read the book. It was a great escape from the world we’re currently living in—imagine being on a foreign beach at a party with no limits on capacity. Wild! But until then, this is the perfect book to read in lockdown.

Reviewed by Phoebe Christofi
Twitter: @ChristofiPhoebe

Distributed by: Penguin Books
Released: 27 July 2021
RRP: $43.99

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