Novel Approach: An out of control party and family drama captivate readers in ‘Malibu Rising’

“Those whom we most love are often the most alien to us.” —Christopher Paolini

Family is complicated. Whether you love them or love to loathe them, your family is the motley crew of humans that were assigned to love you at birth. Our latest read transports us to Malibu in the early ’80s, as one family’s secrets rise to the surface at a chaotic party littered with celebrities.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In her latest novel Taylor Jenkins Reid doesn’t focus on Hollywood glamour or rock and roll glory like she has in her previous bestselling novels, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and “Daisy Jones and the Six.” Instead she transports readers to the perpetual tinder box of Malibu along California’s coastline as decades of family drama comes to a head at a party in “Malibu Rising.”

Being the child of someone famous is never easy. Of course, if the famous parent is infamously absent from the child’s life, it throws in an additional blanket of emotional stress onto their psyche. The four Riva children grew up bearing their father’s famous surname while living with the mother who was shattered by his abandonment. From a young age the kids had to learn how to care for themselves.

Each of the four Riva kids — Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit — have a secret that comes to a head during their family’s annual bash, which results in a massive fire. Reid’s tale of generational family heartache unfolds throughout the course of the party. Throughout the novel, small anecdotes about what the Riva’s guests are doing at the party are cleverly woven into the narrative to provide readers with a fly-on-the-wall experience.

“Rising Malibu” is an addictive and stylish read littered with affairs and secrets that will keep readers turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning.

From the book jacket…

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 rising to the surface.

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoy reading about family dynamics might also enjoy “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng. The book follows a family’s grieving and healing after one member drowns and crafts a captivating family portrait. Readers looking for a lighter read, but one still chock full of family chaos will enjoy Emily Adrian’s “Everything Here is Under Control.”