The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo definitely put Taylor Jenkins Reid on the map, and now Malibu Rising only proves that this fantastic writer is not going anywhere anytime soon.
1983, Malibu, California. The annual end of summer bash that everyone in town giddily anticipates all year long is finally here, and the hosts are ready… well, as ready as they can be. The Rivas, four siblings, each hiding a secret from one another. Nina, a skilled surfer and supermodel, wants to do anything but attend her own party. Jay, the second oldest pro surfer, can’t wait for his special guest to arrive. Hud, the recognized photographer, has no idea how to introduce his family to his new girlfriend. And Kit, the youngest but never forgotten, may or may not have invited the last person anyone wants to see.
1956, Malibu, California. Mick Riva, a wannabe singer with a killer voice, finds himself falling head over heels for June, a small-town girl wanting nothing more than to live in glamorous Hollywood and not her coastline town inhabited by hippies and surfers. And so, their love story began. Mick hit the charts, broke the charts, and soon became the most renowned singer in the world, while June remained happily by his side. But unlike in fairy tales, a wedding is only the beginning of the story.
If you would have told their four children when they were teenagers just a few years earlier that they would be partying with the rich and famous; heck, that they themselves would be rich and famous hosting the event of the century in their cliffside mansion, they would have laughed, barely managing to keep their heads afloat. But if you told them that the night would end in a disaster, one that burned down Malibu, they would have probably believed you, knowing well enough that that’s just their luck.
Why You Need to Read It
Having written several other celebrity-adjacent historical fictions, Reid certainly mastered the era, easily transporting readers into the world of old Hollywood that seemed to be consisting of only money, fame, and, of course, scandal. And while this book does have enough scandal to fill a lifetime, the reason why it’s admired by so many is not that it’s irresistibly juicy.
What really makes this book stand out is the author’s ability to create characters readers feel so much for, a quality found across her writing. Although they live in a made-up world that ordinary people almost never get to experience, no matter who you are, you can still connect and relate to each one of the siblings and their story in one way or another. Drama and tension are always there, but alongside them is unconditional love as the Rivas redefine the meaning of family.
The novel also lets the readers into the underbelly of 1980s Hollywood stars, not shying away from cliches (the usual dark side of fame). What was really captivating was Reid’s ability to connect with these strangers. It was like she was taking the audience for a ride as she people watched and created backstories for actors, celebrities, agents, models, you name it. And while some did criticize the fact that having multiple characters with minor appearances throughout the novel was not a good idea as they felt they took from the stories plot, I found that the stories of these characters were really powerful as they make you realize how you never really know what a person is going through and who they are, something we often forget.
Now, if my points above were not enough to convince you to read this book, then maybe the fact that the novel raises 3 AM type questions we all think of sometimes will. Are we always destined to follow in our parents’ footsteps? And if yes, do we get the power to decide what we take from them and what we leave behind? Perhaps you’ll find your own answers as the characters find theirs.
Photo: Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock
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