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Book Review: 'Malibu Rising' is the Perfect Summer Read


The cover of Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Photo:

Malibu Rising, written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, takes place in Malibu, California, during the 1980s. The “present day” chapters of the book take place within a 24-hour period, and includes flashbacks to events that took place during her mother and father’s marriage.

The main character and the eldest of their four children, Nina Riva, has lived her entire life in Hollywood’s spotlight. Her father, Mick Riva, is a star-studded 60s and 70s singer. Her husband, Brandon Randall, is a professional tennis player and Nina herself is a cover model for illustrious magazine companies.

Every August, Nina hosts an end of summer party, inviting the top A-listers in Hollywood to the event. This is a family affair as well with her siblings Jay, Hud, and Kit also in attendance. The party is always the talk of the season, with this year being no different. However, life was not always this glamorous for the Riva children.

When Nina was a teen, Mick abandoned Nina, their mother, June, and Nina’s siblings. As he refused to pay child support, June and Nina became responsible for raising the family thus resulting in June taking over her parents' restaurant to survive.

However, as time goes on and news of Mick's new relationships arise, June falls into a deep spiral of alcoholism. Eventually, June drinks herself to death and still, their dad is nowhere to be found.

Nina is 17 at the time of her mother's passing, and she is forced to drop out of high school to take care of her younger siblings. She takes over the restaurant for her mom, and when she turns 18, she files for legal guardianship of her siblings.

Nina continues at this pace until she is 20, when one day she is sought out by a magazine editor. When one particular photo of Nina surfing takes off, the money starts steadily rolling in for the family. After this famous photograph changes their lives, Nina throws the first family party.

During one of these acclaimed parties Nina meets her future husband, Brandon, for the first time. Shortly after the party, Brandon and her marry. Yet, history has a cruel way of repeating itself, and Brandon ends up leaving Nina for his tennis partner--reminding her of her parents' failed marriage.

During the party of 1983, every sibling has their own internal struggles going on. Nina is tired of being walked over and playing the “perfect girl” role. Jay, the pro-surfer, might never be able to compete again due to a heart issue. Hud's current girlfriend, and Jay's ex-girlfriend, is pregnant; leaving Hud to have to tell the family- specifically his brother. Kit has invited a special guest to the party that no one knows about, while also looking for her first kiss. However, along the way she discovers something else entirely.

This year's party has a very different ending compared to the previous parties. By the time the sun comes up, the house is up in flames. It is a night that changes the Riva family’s lives forever.

Taylor Jenkins Reid does a fantastic job of keeping the reader drawn in throughout the book. The alternating chapters between present day and their parents' past keeps the reader interested and engaged. She is able to reveal information about the past that plays into the upcoming chapter about the present. Every detail revealed plays a role.

If you are a fan of Reid’s novels you know this is not the first time we have met Mick Riva. In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Riva was married to Evelyn for roughly 12 hours. Reid often includes small character cameos from her other novels into the one you are reading.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend reading Malibu Rising. The book is addicting, and you won’t want to put it down. It is the perfect read for summer. Malibu Rising is available for purchase at Barnes and Noble, on Amazon, or at most local bookshops near you.

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