“Family histories repeat,” and try as we might, “maybe the only fate there is is the temptation of reliving their mistakes.” Perhaps, though, as tempting as it feels to trace over the crooked lines our parents have drawn, we’re free to sketch on fresh paper. Easier said than done, right?
In her latest historical novel, Malibu Rising (Ballantine), Taylor Jenkins Reid whisks readers away to Malibu circa 1983 where Nina Riva is twelve hours away from hosting the party of the decade. At one time, this annual end-of-summer bash included only Nina, her siblings and their surfer friends, but it has since grown into the premier party of the season for the rich and famous. So, despite the fact that her tennis pro husband has publicly left her for another woman and Nina would rather steer clear of the spotlight, the party will continue as planned … for the most part, anyway.
By midnight, this party will be out of control, and by morning, Nina’s mansion will be engulfed in flames.
Who’s invited? Anyone who knows where to be: 28150 Cliffside Drive. And for readers who know where to be this summer (reading Reid’s latest), an invitation to Nina’s unforgettable party is just the icing atop this complex, emotional and beautifully written story of the Riva siblings and their family, including their absent celebrity father.
FOUR SIBLINGS HAUNTED BY FAMILY HISTORY
“Mick Riva’s shadow excelled at haunting each one of his children.” For supermodel Nina, her brothers — champion surfer Jay and photographer Hud — and her younger sister, Kit, their father “was both inescapable and never there.” His face was printed in every magazine on their coffee table and his voice traveled on radio waves into the space around them, but the man himself hadn’t set foot inside their home for years. Even though they had no claim on him, the name Riva has forever bound them to Mick — no matter what they’ve achieved on their own.
Fans of Reid’s work will remember Mick Riva from two of her previous novels, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six, in which he makes brief appearances. In Malibu Rising, however, Mick takes on a larger role as Reid explores his story alongside that of his children. That’s right, readers aren’t staying in 1983, they’ll travel back to the decades before as Mick meets June, a young woman with whom he’ll start a family, and rises to fame, leaving his young family to cope with consequences.
Like with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which utilizes newspaper and tabloid clippings to ground Evelyn’s life story as she recounts it, or Daisy Jones and the Six, which features a stylized narrative in the form of an interview with band members and other relevant parties, Reid shakes up her narrative style yet again in Malibu Rising. This time, alternating chapters move readers through two separate timelines: a period of 24 hours in 1983 and the 25 years between 1956 and 1981. In 1983, Reid explores the Riva children as adults, hour by hour as they prepare for and then attend Nina’s party. In the other timeline, the creation of this unique family unfolds.
ONE NIGHT WILL ALTER THE RIVAS FOREVER
As the decade’s most epic party looms on the horizon, the past tugs at each of the siblings’ heels. With secrets, betrayals and unfiltered emotions waiting to be revealed in the chaos, this one night will alter the course of each of the Rivas’ lives forever … along with the landscape of Malibu itself.
I first fell in love with Reid’s work while reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. It was one of the few books I’d ever read that took me by surprise. Evelyn, like many of Reid’s characters, was deliciously flawed and so utterly human. I was hopelessly enamored by her. After I finished, I immediately started reading it again, and then I told everyone else they had to read it too. I’m sure that others can relate: When you read a book like that, one that satiates a hunger you didn’t even know lived inside you, you find yourself simultaneously excited to try something else from its author and terrified that it won’t feel the same. So, when I picked up Reid’s latest, I braced myself for a beautiful tale that would no doubt fill me but might not satisfy in the way I longed for it to.
No part of Malibu Rising disappoints. The story of the Riva family is undeniably powerful. Their struggles with each other and within themselves are heart-wrenching, and the love they share feels at once enormous and intimate. At the center of everything is their battle with the great big monster that is family history, forcing each of the Rivas to decide which parts of that history they will continue to carry and which parts they must let go of. With this tale of family lost and found set against the irresistible beauty of Malibu, Reid, a master at her loom, weaves the past and present together to produce something truly spectacular.