Book Reviews

Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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My Interest

Daisy Jones and the Six was one of my favorite books of 2019–I simply loved it. It was creative in format and well written. I knew I wanted to read more by this author, but before I could get around to her other books, this one was announced. I waited. Her writing inspires me, too. She’s built to bigger and more complex books–I can tell that by reading about her backlist (which I still intend to read).

 

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Map showing Malibu, California

The Story

“Maybe our parents’ lives are imprinted within us, maybe the only fate there is the temptation of reliving their mistakes. Maybe, try as we might, we will never be able to outrun the blood that runs through our veins. Or. Or maybe we are free the moment we are born. Maybe everything we’ve ever done is by our own hands.”

This is the story of both a huge Malibu party in 1983 and the family whose home was the setting for it. Back in 1956 June Costas met wanna-be-singer Mick Riva and gave him her heart and a family. But being the family of the sensation that Mick Riva became would be a difficult life for the four Riva kids and their mother.

“When there’s only you, you do not get to choose which jobs you want, you do not get to decide you are incapable of anything. There is no room for distance or weakness. You must do it all. All of the ugliness, the sadness, the things most people can’t stand to even think about, all must live inside you. You must be capable of anything.”

My Thoughts

I’ve been very down on dual-timeline stories recently, but when you get one as well-told as this one, those negative thoughts vanish. I liked the way both stories unrolled, a few hours at a time in 1983 paired with a part of the hostess’s family’s backstory. In fact, the family’s backstory was the best part to me–probably due to hurt vanity. It’s hard to realize that my junior year in college is now called “historical fiction.”

I could relate far more to June than to the Riva siblings, possibly more because I have no idea what it is like to surf and I do have a good idea what it is like to work a crappy job and marry the wrong guy–I’ve done both of those. I’ve also known a couple of real-life Nina’s–that is the Nina of the backstory, before the big house, and I admire them. Nina was a heroine to inspire young people–but not for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but for before it. And, after it was over. That is one heck of a woman to admire.

One small not-quite-spoiler, the police scene made me roll my eyes. That was “seen through the lens of the 2020s” (it was a woke inclusion–sexism, a “me too” moment). One teeny-tiny story line was so predictable I giggled out loud when I was proven correct. I got tired of the little “micro-scenes” (my term) of party goers doing their thing. Some of those could easily have been cut and no one would have missed them. My other complaint was I cannot recall anyone using the word F— with the abandon with which it is thrown about today. In 1983 t.v. still beeped out “bad” words. “…as shit…” made its way back in time from today to ’83 too. There is sex, but it was in line with the story, so it was not what I normally call an “ick moment”.

While this book is not as good as Daisy Jones and the Six, it is is a good summer book to enjoy and hand off to another person to let them enjoy it too. It lives up to MOST of its hype which is nice. I listened to the audio version.

My Verdict

3.5

For those who like the nit-picky historical mistakes I catch sometimes, there were a few, but none were of any significance what-so-ever to the story. They can be found on my Goodreads review page under “Reading Notes”.

Malibu Rising: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

10 thoughts on “Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  1. Hmmm, the author name is familiar to me, but looking at Goodreads I haven’t read anything of hers. Maybe I know her through your reviews. Nice review; nice to hear about a dual timeline done well. I’m getting a little weary of them also.

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  2. I’ve been interested in reading Malibu Rising because I also liked Daisy Jones, a lot. I’ve heard it isn’t quite as good. I’ve also thought about reading some of Reid’s earlier books. Not enough time, as usual! Thanks for your review!

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  3. Great review! I really enjoyed this one… although like you, it pains me to think of my college era as “historical”. 🙂 I agree about the snippets about the party-goers — I expected to find out that all these people suffered awful fates later on, but when they didn’t, I had to wonder what the point was of going into such detail. Still, I loved the book overall, especially the family dynamics. I highly recommend The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo — it’s a beautiful book, and Mick even makes an appearance!

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  4. Well, not my favorite of hers so far, either. But regarding the swear words… maybe these people might not have used it as much as was in this book, but they’ve been around since the time of Shakespeare, to be honest. Obviously, “gentle society” of the time wouldn’t have been exposed to such profanity, but… these people weren’t all that gentle. I agree that some of the side snippets might have been… er… snipped!

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  5. I have not read anything by this author but I have this novel on order at my library. I have not read Daisy Jones and The Six either but after reading your review, I may give it a try also.

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