A multi-generational saga that tests the bonds between family, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2021 historical fiction novel is set in a coastal neighbourhood in Malibu.
With the grace of the waves that the Riva siblings surf on, Reid writes about a family tradition (an annual party where all the rich and the famous gather every year) that inevitably transforms the lives of the Riva family.
I hadn’t expected to like this book as much as I did, considering the amount of infidelity in it. And that is one theme that puts me off a book real fast. But something about the author’s writing style and point of view kept me reading.
While Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing is particularly straightforward, there’s also a sense of comfort that permeates it. I really like the way she writes and will definitely be picking up more of her works.
This was my first book by her, and I’ve heard that I ought to have started with either Daisy Jones or Evelyn Hugo. But all’s well that works out well, right?
The way Malibu Rising is structured adds a lot of depth to the storytelling. You aren’t just getting to know Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit (the 4 Riva siblings) after they’ve grown up.
With the narrative switching back and forth between 1983 and a few decades preceding that, you really get to understand how their parents (June and Mick) got together, the circumstances that have led to the siblings living by themselves, and so on.
I wish the treatment of adultery had been different in the book. I didn’t like the way Brandon’s storyline ends, with him thinking he can have his pick between the two women. Normalizing such mindsets and having the female characters tolerate it just grates at me; it unnecessarily gives weightage to toxic stereotypes.
Nina is such an incredibly selfless person. Her character arc is touching, and although it can be taxing to take on so much responsibility at a young age, she pulls through for her siblings. I liked her best of the lot, and her character will stay with me forever.
June, their mother, deserved so much better. And it almost had me weeping that her life was a series of decisions she takes to liberate herself, but that’s far from what her fate had in store.
On the whole, the way the book ends isn’t a typical happily-ever-after, and I LOVED that! Here are a bunch of characters who have moved past their emotional wounds and don’t feel the need to mend all the cracks in their lives for the sake of it.
If you don’t mind the few irksome aspects of the book, I’d recommend that you give Malibu Rising a try. I am certainly glad to have picked it, if only for the love and warmth that courses through the Riva siblings.
Note: I received an Audiobook Listening Copy of this book from Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review.