Malibu RisingMalibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books on June 1, 2021
Pages: 384
View Title on Goodreads
Bantering Books Rating: three-half-stars

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 for him 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.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Bantering Books Review

3.5 stars

The Rivas sure know how to throw one heck of a party. And Taylor Jenkins Reid sure knows how to write one heck of a book.


Malibu Rising, TJR’s follow-up to her bestselling novels, Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, is all sand and surf. Set in 1983, the story revolves around a day in the lives of the Riva siblings – Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit – as they prepare for Nina’s infamous end-of-summer party. The annual event is the hottest invitation in Malibu, as everyone vies to be near the famous progeny of renowned singer, Mick Riva. (Yes, the same Mick Riva who was once married to Evelyn Hugo. Just in case you’re wondering.)

I consider myself to be a huge TJR fan, and I loved both Daisy Jones and Evelyn Hugo just as much as the masses. She has a remarkable knack for writing glitzy celebrity soap operas, making them incredibly fun to read, yet poignant and wise. Her insight into the intricacies of the human heart is unparalleled, and she has never allowed the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll of her stories to overshadow their emotional wallop.

Until now.

Sex sells – as do drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s an age-old adage for a reason. But that’s not why I read TJR. I read her novels for the unforgettable characters. The life-altering journeys. The sage observations on life and love. And in Malibu Rising, it’s all lost, buried beneath the sand of endless sexual encounters and wild, drug-induced party antics. The novel’s scandalous nature feels forced and excessive, as if this time around, TJR is striving for shock rather than heart.

And it saddens me that the Riva family’s story is squandered. Because the four siblings are magnetic and relatable, and their narrative arcs could’ve been exceptionally powerful.

Malibu Rising is good. But it’s not great. And it’s certainly not TJR at her best.

My sincerest appreciation to Taylor Jenkins Reid, Ballantine Books, and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own.