Review: Malibu Rising

Title: Malibu Rising
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


Malibu 1983: Nina Riva always has a big end-of-summer party with her younger siblings. The four of them: Nina, Jay, Hudson, and Kit, are the children of singer Mick Riva, who abandoned them and their mother. All of Malibu is fascinated by the Rivas, and are drawn to the Riva party every year. This party is going to be life changing for each of the Riva siblings. Nina doesn’t want to be in the spotlight anymore after her professional tennis player husband left her for another tennis player. Jay is waiting for the girl of his dreams to show up. Hudson has important news that he must confess to his brother before it’s too late. Kit decides she wants to grow up at this party and finally kiss a boy. The party gets out of control, with alcohol and drugs flowing everywhere. By the next morning, the house will go up in flames. The four siblings must decide what’s most important in their lives and what can be left behind.

This was a tragic story about a tragic family. Though the four children had a famous singer for a father, he wasn’t there to look after them. They didn’t have enough money and had to look after themselves. There was a lot of generational trauma, with problems from their parents’ generation passing onto the children.

Even though the ending of the story is given in the synopsis, I had no idea how they would get there. Though I could figure out things that would happen before they happened, I got chills when I read the words. This story had a unique omniscient narrator, who knew everything that was happening in each character’s mind. The characters’ motives couldn’t be hidden from this narrator, but when the ending of the story is given away in the synopsis, this type of narration works well.

There are some trigger warnings such as alcohol and drug abuse, accidental drowning, abandonment, and adultery. Death at childbirth was mentioned but not part of the present story.

I was shocked and pleasantly surprised at the ending. It wasn’t what I expected at all.

Malibu Rising is a beautiful, tragic story that is perfect for the summer.

Thank you Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Have you read Malibu Rising? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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