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Book Review: "Malibu Rising" burns bright

Taylor Jenkins Reid fans, rejoice! After her novel “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” fans have been begging the author to dive into one of her fictional celebrity’s backstories. Boy, oh, boy, are readers in for a treat with “Malibu Rising.”

Set on a fateful night in Malibu, this novel follows the lives of Mick Riva’s children––one of Reid’s iconic womanizers from “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” Nina, his oldest child, and 90s sex symbol, throws a party in her Malibu mansion after her tennis legend husband leaves her for another woman. Her brothers, professional surfer Jay and photographer Hudson are navigating the dating scene and their own secrets. Then there’s Kit, the ingenue who dreams of being a professional surfer and struggles with carving her place in the world. Throughout the eventful night, the siblings are confronted with secrets, betrayals, and choices that will forever shape their lives and Malibu.

Suppose you’ve read one of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other novels. In that case, you’ll know how loveable and frustrating her iconic characters can be in her world. “Malibu Rising” is no exception, but Reid injects more sympathy for the Riva siblings and their mother, June. Readers witness the siblings’ growth and love for one another through the eyes of their mother, June, as she navigates parenthood and the manipulative nature of her on-and-off-again husband, Mick. With each flashback to June’s early motherhood days to Nina’s turbulent childhood, the characters jump off the page with careful nuance and tug at the heartstrings. Reid perfectly captures the turmoil of parenthood and childhood trauma seeping into adulthood, all while giving readers exhilarating observations of the party.

Although centered around the Riva siblings, the narrative bounces from party guest to party guest, immersing readers to the point where they feel like they’re one of the many guests roaming Nina’s house. We get sneak peeks into the lives of Reid’s fictional celebrities and how fame rots away at a person’s rational thinking. On top of the party narration, there are plenty of flashbacks to the beginning of June and Mick’s relationship, its downfall, and ultimately the siblings’ childhoods.

Wildly fun, heartfelt, and hilarious, “Malibu Rising” burns bright compared to Reid’s other novels. The perfect summer read for fans of Reid’s other books, “The View Was Exhausting,” or the HBO original show “Hacks.”

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