“It caught fire in 1982, 1985, in 1993, 1996, in 2003, 2007, and 2018. And times in between. Because it is Malibu’s nature to burn,” (Jenkins Reid 3).
Has Taylor Jenkins Reid made my list of new favourite authors? I think so, wow has 2021 been a year of good reads!
Over the course of a night in August 1983 the Riva family is having their annual end-of-summer party, and things are about to change. Surfer and model Nina Riva’s tennis-star husband has just left her for another tennis star but that won’t stop her from hosting the party her siblings look forward to each year. Jay and Hud, a surfer and photographer team, have secrets from one another that could strain their strong bond. And baby Kit has a few secrets, one she’s been keeping from herself and one from her siblings involving and invitation she’s sent that her siblings don’t know about. By the end of the party secrets will be revealed and the night will literally be up in flames, because that’s what Malibu does: it burns.
I adored The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and was shocked when I learned that the Riva siblings of Malibu Rising are the children of Evelyn’s third husband Mick Riva. There are some allusions to Mick and Evelyn’s marriage but her name is never said, which is for the best because this isn’t a story about Evelyn, it’s about the Riva family and what a story they have to tell. The story is told over the course of a day in August 1983 following the Riva siblings with flashbacks to their parents tumultuous and unforgettable marriage starting in the 1950s and onward until two storylines collide.
Some reviewers have described Malibu Rising as a soap opera and though I hate to simplify it with such a term, it really does fit. So much happens to the Riva family, their lives are filled with drama, trauma, and so much heartbreak that it wouldn’t be odd to see moments of their lives used as plot points on a television show. But the comparison to a soap opera doesn’t mean that what happens to the Riva family isn’t realistic. There were so many times I gasped while reading when something was revealed, so many times my heart hurt as I ached for what was happening to June and the Riva siblings. I was so invested in this fictional family’s life that I just wanted things to get better for them.
That being said I didn’t feel as deeply for all the characters as I did for Evelyn Hugo. I was very invested in June and how her relationship with Mick began, with how much she loved her children and how she tried to provide for them, how despite being such a loving mother she had her flaws. I thought Nina, the eldest Riva, was the strongest character and the one I felt for the most after June. Her parts in the novel really affected me and made me feel for her, I kept getting upset with how Nina was being treated and admired but was upset for all the sacrifices she made to take care of her siblings. But just because June and Nina were the ones I most connected too doesn’t mean I disliked the other Riva’s. I loved Jay and Hud’s relationship and how their storylines connected and the struggles each of them faced, and I really liked Kit and wished there was more of her in the book. She had a lot of spunk and was very memorable and I just wished she had a bigger role (though, arguably, she does have one).
I’m not sure why Jenkins Reid decided to include perspectives from other people at the party. It was interesting and I understand why it was done in the end but for the most part it felt unnecessary. The book focused solely on the Riva family and then we get these outsiders perspective at this infamous summer party? It was just strange and didn’t really fit with the story Jenkins Reid was telling.
Malibu Rising is an amazing book. A story about family, the ones we make and the ones we come from. It’s a story generational trauma, about how even the people we love can hurt us in ways they don’t mean too and how complicated and heartbreaking families can be. But mostly Malibu Rising is about the love of a family and what they are willing to do to keep each other happy.
Publication: June 1st 2021
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 369 pages (Paperback)
Source: Borrowed (Thanks Andrea! )
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Adult
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
“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 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.”