Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid Book Review

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Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, the family drama that ensues will change their lives will change forever.

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.

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.


Here are some of the sensitive content that I observed while reading:

  • Alcoholism
  • Blood
  • Cardic/Heard Condition
  • Cheating
  • Child Negligence
  • Death of a Parent
  • Divorce
  • Drug Use
  • Fire
  • Guns
  • Misogyny
  • Profanity
  • Sexually Explicit Scenes
  • Suicide
  • Violence


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There are possible **SPOILERS** beyond this point!

Overall Rating


Going into this book, basically, blind was the biggest treat that I could have given myself. I had no expectations as this was the first book that I have read from Taylor Jenkins Reid. I could not expect to love this book as much as I do, but here we are!

This book is told from the third person POV so you get multiple narratives in addition to the split main storyline that flashes between Mick and June’s (their parents’) story and the sibling’s current circumstances. This is a historical fiction book that spans somewhere between the 50’s and 80’s. I liked the pacing and style of TJR’s writing. The way the story is constructed really serves to deliver maximum impact once you get to the end.

Malibu Rising is the tell-all of the four Riva siblings who are all surfers! Nina, the oldest sister and primary narrator, has just been recently left by her husband. Jay, the second oldest brother is kind of an arrogant douche. Then there’s Hud, the third sibling and my favorite. I loved HUD. Kit, the awkward sister and the youngest sibling. This book follows their lives from their parent’s love story til the night that Nina’s house goes up in flames after the notorious Riva party.

If I had to pick a favorite though, it would have to be Nina. I related so much to her story. I really loved her character arc and journey. We do hear more about her than any other character so we get to see so much more of her life. Nina’s introspection feels so raw and pulls you in. It was very easy for me to feel compassion toward her and I did shed several tears for her and June, both.

Topics that are discussed in this book such as family responsibility, infidelity, divorce and the lasting influence of our parents were treated with a finesse that made them very accessible. These topics are quite heavy, but Reid makes them conversational without diminishing their weight.

Each sibling’s POV was so different from the others. They were all so believable and real that reading this book feels like having a friend gossiping with you instead of like you’re reading a book. I was on the edge of my seat asking, “And then what happened, Taylor?” I had such a pleasant experience reading this book because I love a book that focuses on relationships and dynamics between individuals. There were many connections that TJR leads us to make but also an honest view into all the characters’ lives so we can make judgments on our own too.

I loved June and Mick’s love story until they have Nina. After that point, it was just me gasping, often. My heart broke time and time again. You will not believe the antics!! Mick though–the most despicable piece of shit. He sucks so much! June deserved better. My heart still breaks for her.

I enjoyed learning about the extra characters at the party and getting a full scope of exactly what the Riva party had turned into. The drama was exactly what I was looking for and not at all what I expected. I just wanted to give the Riva kids all a big hug because they needed it.

The story was dynamic and immersive. I found myself desperate to know what happened next but also wanting to savor the details that I’d just learned. The ending of Malibu Rising was very satisfying. Can’t recommend this read enough! I cannot wait for TJR to take me back to this universe with other characters that I saw glimpses of in this tale.

If you’ve read this one, could you believe it when we discover who was responsible for the fire?!

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Favorite Quotes

When there is 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 distaste 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 of you. You must be capable of everything.

Page 147

What binds us does not matter. All that matters is that we are bound.

Page 319

Maybe you owe your parents nothing, maybe you owe them everything.

Page 322


Check out Malibu Rising on Amazon here.

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