Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication date: June 1, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit, Vacation Reading
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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Taylor Jenkins Reid it’s that she exerts a magnetic force on readers (I’m looking at you, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & the Six). Her latest, Malibu Rising, is no different, because, once again, she’s crafted a novel that once started needs to be finished without interruption.
In this case it’s about the Riva family. Father Mick, a wannabe rock star, meets and falls desperately in love with the sweet and temperate June, who believes in his talent wholeheartedly. They marry and have two children, Nina and Jay. All this happens against the idyllic background of the California coast. Mick’s career takes off and suddenly, unsurprisingly, fidelity is a trait that eludes him. Before their marriage implodes completely there are two more children, Hud and Kit. Then, Mick is off to live his best life and June is left raising their children.
Fast forward to 1982 and Nina is the family’s rock. She lives a comfortable life, but is currently dealing with the humiliation of her husband’s very public affair. Jay is making his mark as a champion surfer and Hud as a photographer, while Kit is still trying to find her place among such influential siblings. They’ll all be together at Nina’s famous end-of-summer party at her expansive Malibu home, but of all the glittering guests there is one none of them are expecting. Reid uses the 24 hours surrounding the party as the fuse burning Malibu Rising down to an explosive ending. For Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit there will be reckoning of decisions made, secrets kept, and relationships betrayed.
As I mentioned, I couldn’t put Malibu Rising down, but it’s not my favorite of Reid’s novels. Most of the characters fall into narrow, predictable tracts with the exception of Kit, who stands out as she’s the only woman in her family with a spine. Previously, I’ve connected with Reid’s characters in one way or another, but this time there was no nuance. Everyone is perfectly cast in their part, but without any depth, meaning I wanted to know what happened to them, but didn’t care too much. Malibu Rising is well-written, fast reading; a novel as beachy, fun, and flashy as its California setting.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.*