Taylor Jenkins Reid tackles family heartbreak in ‘Malibu Rising’

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid is pictured above. The novel was released in May.

Photo from Stuart Simpson/Penguin Books

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid is pictured above. The novel was released in May.

By Raina Kutliroff, Staff Writer

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s newest novel, “Malibu Rising” will have readers’ attention until well after the last page. Author of acclaimed novel “Daisy Jones & The Six,” Reid continues to enchant readers through her detailed storytelling and intensely creative plots. Throughout the nearly 400 pages of “Malibu Rising,” readers will experience the character development of the Riva family and party guests. 

“Malibu Rising” tells the story of legendary singer Mick Riva and his children, at least the ones he knows about. Mick Riva had a difficult life growing up and knew he wanted to marry the love of his life early on and raise a big, happy family. His dreams were quickly screwed up after Mick reached the fame he’d always wanted and had some difficult choices to make. Though his family gave him a second chance, ultimately Mick chose fame and his family swore him off forever. 

After nearly a decade of the Riva family knowing their father just as well as the rest of the world, through magazine covers and billboards, Mick’s children have grown up much quicker than they should have and are now preparing for the annual and renowned Riva family beach party. Nina, the oldest of the pack, has mothered her three siblings after their mother tragically passed. She struggles to be seen for who she really is, not for the body she has that is captured on posters in teenage boys’ bedrooms. She has no idea how to put herself first, but for the first time in her life, she is forced to after a recently rough divorce.

Brothers Hud and Jay are nearly inseparable, though Hud entered the family in a rather unconventional way. The brothers travel the world where Jay hopes to become a professional surfer and Hud photographs him along the way. Their dreams may come to a halt when they are faced with a medical emergency that will change their lives forever. Their relationship is tested when they fall for the same girl, though one is more serious about her than the other. 

The youngest of the Riva family is Kit, whose own father doesn’t even recognize her since he left when she was so young. Kit is in college and has never even had her first kiss — she is anxious that it will finally happen at the famous Riva party, but it doesn’t turn out exactly the way she had planned. 

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“Malibu Rising” takes place along the shore of Malibu and Reid is able to accurately describe the beautiful, peaceful shores of the Pacific Ocean. The ocean becomes the only safe place for the Riva family as surfing bonds them to each other and the sea. The juxtaposition of the quaintness of the sea with the dangerous dryness of the West Coast is haunting to readers as the theme of wildfires spreads through “Malibu Rising.” 

Reid’s decision to tell the rest of the story from the perspective of the party guests allows readers to visualize themselves at the wild Riva party, then will end in gunshots and arrests, promises, heartbreak, tears and laughter. 

“Malibu Rising” is full of nonstop plot twists and intimate connections between the rich characters and their families. The novel comes full circle, ending and starting with burning passion. Fans are anxiously awaiting Reid’s next novel, which will be difficult to top “Malibu Rising.” 

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