Wednesday, September 1, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The world does not need another review of Malibu Rising, the latest blockbuster novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Nevertheless, as a devoted fan of Reid’s work, I’m throwing this one out there.

The story focuses on the run-up to the annual Malibu party thrown by Nina Riva, a swimwear model and surfer known for her pin-up calendars and posters, as well as for being the daughter of Mick Riva, a superstar singer (who abandoned Nina and her three siblings without a backward glance when they were children.) After the death of their mother (actually, even before that), Nina raised her siblings. Her brother Hud is a sports photographer whose main subject is her other brother Jay, a rising star in the surfing world. Kit, the baby of the family, is just twenty, also a superb surfer, just coming into her own.

Nina is not looking forward to the party. She was just dumped by her tennis pro husband. (Absurdly handsome, wealthy, and winner of numerous grand slams, he ran off with another tennis player. It made all the gossip news, humiliating Nina.)

The close-knit siblings have always relied heavily on Nina, but things are reaching a breaking point. Each of the siblings has secrets gnawing at them, and Nina can’t fix them all. When the party—a drunken, drug-fueled, sex-saturated free-for-all—gets out of hand, it may be the signal that it’s time for radical change for the Rivas.

The novel is fast-paced and angst-packed. The ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ vibe is reminiscent of Daisy Jones, as is the theme of rampant infidelity and its devastating aftermath. The main characters are mostly sympathetic. Even the worst of them is not all bad, though Mick Riva, blaming his narcissism on his own poor upbringing, is pretty close to being all bad. If you’re looking for a quick beach read with an emotional punch, pick up Malibu Rising.

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