Book Review: Malibu rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Malibu Rising

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: 5/5 stars

Publisher: Hutchinson (Imprint of Penguin Books)


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.


After reading 2 books by her, I can confidently say that Taylor Jenkins Reid is the best at emotional writing. It’s not angsty teen drama. It’s all real life issues with relatable human reactions, and there isn’t an ounce of fluff in her writing – it’s all hard-hitting rawness that makes you feel so much at once. That’s what I admire most about her books – it’s that she does not use fancy words to spice up her writing. She does not exaggerate her stories or overdramatise them. She writes about people like us, who go through the same cycle of growing up, having family, falling in love, getting hurt, feeling lost… it feels oddly nostalgic reading her books, because even though you don’t go through the same exact things as her characters, you go through the same exact emotional turmoil as them, as if you yourself have, some time in the past, experienced something very similar.

Malibu Rising is all of this and more. I may have much stronger feelings about the book personally because I relate to the trauma and emotions that the characters went through (meaning I have a similar past to the characters), but even without this notion, the story would still hit close to home in some form.

Taylor Jenkins Reid writes about characters who are famous. What’s amazing is how real these characters are and how relatable their issues are. She does this thing really well where she justifies that absolutely none of her characters are morally good or bad. Everyone has two sides, no matter how much of a saint or piece of gunk you are. Taylor Jenkins Reid captures this very well. Too well. It’s almost as if these characters are her own family and friends.

That said, Malibu Rising is largely a character driven novel. Or should I say characters driven? We follow mainly 4 people but get to know so much more in the process. It’s about 300+ pages long, but it feels like I’ve read about 10+ different life stories from just the short cameo of each minor character. It’s fantastic. Everything about it is fantastic. Sure, not every issue introduced in the novel gets resolved or addressed thoroughly, but it just goes to show that life is not all about getting the right answers at once. There’s a time and place for everything. Malibu Rising (and all her other books, really) perfectly encapsulates this.

What more can I say? This book is freaking amazing. It’s personal and real, and that’s the best kind of books.

Thank you so much to Penguin Books Australia for sending over a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!


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