Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
How was your weekend? In the UK it was our August Bank Holiday, so we had the perfect 3 day weekend. I spent it at a garden party (Saturday) hosted by the world's best baker and at a wedding of one of my dearest friends (Sunday), which was so full of joy I am fit to burst. I can honestly say I don't think I could have had a more perfect weekend. Reading wise I finished the latest Elly Griffiths and packed the first book in the Matthew Venn series. So I do hope your weekend was also a good one.
My 5⭐️ paddle has been extremely elusive as of late, but I am happy to report I have finally taken it out, dusted it down and give it a spritz, all to joyfully award 5⭐️ to Malibu Rising. This is a book I have been looking to reading for so long and it did not disappoint.
I'll get to the review in a moment, but I would first like to take the moment to appreciate the look of this novel. It is a thing of beauty. Everything from the artwork by Henry Petrides, the inner page and the colour of the book scream the surf. It is a book that I am going to enjoy keeping on my shelves.
The Plot (From the Back)
It's the day of Nina Riva's annual end of summer party and anticipation is at fever pitch. Everyone who's anyone wants an invite to catch a glimpse of the famous Riva siblings; Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; 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 children of the legendary singer Mick Riva.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But ahead of the 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 will all come bubbling to the surface.
The writing of Taylor Jenkins Reid feels refreshing and unique. Whether it is the journalistic interview style found in Daisy Jones or the memoir feel of Evelyn Hugo. Malibu Rising is told in the form of flashback between the life of Mick Riva and his first wife, June, specifically June and contrasted with the Riva Siblings party. This is a great technique as I found myself with a feeling of dread as it looks as if the sins of the father will be visited on the children - especially Nina.
Nina has taken on the mantle previously worn heavily by her mother - taking care of the siblings and running a restaurant that she never wanted as well as being 'good'. Nina is hurtling towards the same bad life choices made by her mother about the men in their lives - namely a cheating, feckless husband who had a very public affair. The flashback style bringing this into sharp focus.
The other siblings have their own issues - Jay is ill, Hud in a relationship he is forced to keep secret and Kit is growing up and learning more about who she is. Kit's story particularly is well written and sensitively done.
The main event - namely the party is fantastic. Hedonistic, drugs, sex and alcohol. Characters come in and throw off all responsibility and expectation. And as events come to a close there is a feeling of guests having one enormous blowout before going back to real life. Burn everything to the ground and rise from the ashes, both literally and metaphorically.
There are themes around nature having the ultimate power - the power to heal, to burn and to kill. Sometimes we genuinely have no control of our wider world. Malibu is described as a tinderbox awaiting just one spark to make it burn.
The novel is evocative of the time and Malibu in the early 1980s. It's beautifully written with a very satisfying conclusion. Taylor Jenkins Reid is becoming a real power house of an author and one whose writing I continue to love.