Malibu Rising | book review

Malibu Rising

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: n/a
Format: eBook
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Original Publication Date: 2021
Genre(s): Adult fiction

“Our parents live inside us, whether they stick around or not.”

It’s 1983 and summer has come to an end. In Malibu, that means one thing: the annual Riva end-of-summer party, where wild things are guaranteed to happen every year. But this year, the four Riva siblings have a lot going on. Nina, surfer and supermodel, has just been abandoned by her husband. Jay, championship surfer, is hoping the girl of his dreams shows up—the one he thinks he actually might be in love with this time. Hud, renowned photographer, is hoping to break the news to Jay that he’s kind of in love with his ex-girlfriend—and they’ve been dating behind his back. And Kit, amateur surfer, has secretly been inviting someone year after year to this party—and this year, he shows up. By time the party ends, the Riva mansion will be in flames. But what leads up to that moment is a whirlwind of interconnected stories.


I adore Taylor Jenkins Reid. Can I say that if, before this novel, I’d only read one of her works? To be fair, In Another Life was life changing for me and is one of my favorite books. So when I saw Malibu Rising was being published this year, I immediately requested an ARC. And I’m so very glad I did.

Malibu Rising is told in third-person omniscient POV with chapters alternating perspectives and time. The events are all over the place, so try to keep up. The current timeline is told by time of day, starting the morning of the Riva party and ending the next morning, when the party is over and the house is on fire. But in between, there’s also flashbacks to the Riva siblings’ childhood, as well as their mothers’ childhood. This is very much a family drama story spanning a couple generations. Most of the story focuses on the Riva’s, but some of the chapters (especially once the party starts) follow various side characters and random partygoers. Kind of like a full 360° view of the party.

Speaking of the party: it doesn’t even start until about 50% into the novel, so expect some serious build-up. Reid really deep-dives into this family history. The writing is excellent and the character development is wonderfully done. I love how natural Reid’s dialogue sounds, too. This book is easy to pick up and get lost in. I tend to stay away from family dramas because, let’s face it, mine has enough drama. But this one really captivated me. I felt immersed in this family history, and coming out of it is jarring.

Though I didn’t fall head over heels for the novel like I did In Another Life, I still enjoyed it thoroughly. I loved watching the various battles each character faced play out, and I felt very satisfied with the ending. I wish I could have felt a little more emotionally connected to the story—I was missing that a bit—but overall a really well done novel.

If you’re looking for a generational family drama set in the 80s in sunny California, be sure to pick up this novel when it’s out June 1st. It’s the best beachy read to kick off your summer reading.

Favorite Quotes

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