ARC Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

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 for him 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. 

  • Title: Malibu Rising 
  • Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid 
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books 
  • Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction 
  • Targeted Age Range: Adult
  • Trigger Warnings: abandonment, adoption, alcoholism, death of a parent, drowning, drugs, fire, estranged father, infidelity, stroke 
  • Rating:  ★★★★☆

As one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, especially after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six last year, I couldn’t wait to dive back into Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Hollywood. It’s something so special and simply exquisite. Malibu Rising is a rollercoaster of a book, with Part 1 being the almost-excruciatingly slow rise to the top of the rollercoaster, where you’re just anticipating the drop – waiting, waiting, waiting, and Part 2 being the rush of the drop, and its aftermath.  

To be completely honest, I’m still sitting here, legs shaking, after getting off of the rollercoaster that is Malibu Rising. While there’s a lot of build up that leads to the events of the book, it’s hard to believe that most of the events take place all in one day:But they do. Malibu Rising follows two separate time periods, spanning across a full cast of characters. There’s Mick Riva, whose story begins in the 1950s – a little before when we met him in Evelyn Hugo, and his relationship with his first wife, June. Mick’s storyline tapers off shortly after – to allow for what happens in Evelyn Hugo canon – and the 1950s and onwards plot ends up focusing more so on June Riva, and her life after Mick. In the 80s (did someone say Daisy Jones?), the storyline is centered around Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit Riva, their secrets, and the inevitable blow-up. Reid seamlessly weaves these multiple storylines that span thirty or so years, and I thoroughly enjoyed trying to figure out how they all fit into one another. 

Reid has a particular way of writing and worldbuilding that never fails to draw me in. I’ve said multiple times before that one of my favorite things about Taylor Jenkins Reid’s characters is how incredibly flawed they are. Evelyn Hugo, Celia St. James, Daisy Jones – they’re all kind of awful, and that’s what I love about them. One of my biggest pet peeves is when characters come across too perfect, or like the author simply picked three negative personality traits and sprinkles them in every once in a while just so their characters don’t seem perfect. And yet, the unlikableness is what I love most about Reid’s characters. Reid’s characters feel authentic; I know people that are just like Evelyn, Celia, Daisy – and the characters of Malibu Rising are no different. 

A common theme in Malibu Rising is if we’re doomed to repeat our parents’ mistakes, or if we can ever truly be free to create our own paths – a theme that really resonated with me, and one that I loved watching Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit figure out.  

From the get-go, I was instantly drawn to Nina. Nina is undoubtedly one of the most likeable characters that Reid has written. She’s selfless. One might even say that’s her biggest fault — that she always puts the people she cares about in front of her. She’s a doormat, she’s someone who has risen to the occasion and stepped up when she shouldn’t have needed to. There’s a lot of strength that Nina carries; the type of strength that has been passed down from previous generations. Admittedly, I spent a large majority of the book hoping that Nina would finally learn to stand up for herself, and finally put herself first, and when she did, I might’ve gotten a little teary myself.

The sibling dynamic was one of my favorite things about Malibu Rising. The way all the Riva children cared for one another was so evident, and it truly warmed my heart. Although I didn’t care as much about Jay or Hud as I did Nina and Kit, I did find myself enjoying the way their storylines ended just as much as I did Nina and Kit’s. 

Overall, I found Malibu Rising to be an incredibly fast read, and I would highly recommend it to any fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s, or anyone who loves reading about family dynamics, or celebrities – even fictional ones. And if you’ve read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and/or Daisy Jones and the Six, be sure to pay attention to some cameos and name drops! 

Major thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for sending me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Links for Malibu Rising: Goodreads | TheStorygraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound 

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoOne True LovesMaybe in Another LifeAfter I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. Her novels have been Indie Next Picks, chosen by Book of the Month, and featured in People, US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, and more. Her newest novel, Daisy Jones and the Six, is a New York Times bestseller. She lives in Los Angeles.

Follow Taylor: Website | Instagram | Twitter

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11 thoughts on “ARC Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  1. i think you can feel my excitement for this book even with miles and miles between us! coco, you always make me so excited about books, but especially about this one!! can’t wait to meet nina and fall in love with her since she must be pretty cool for you to like her so much!! wonderful review 💛

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