cover image Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising

Taylor Jenkins Reid. Ballantine, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5247-9865-9

Reid (Daisy Jones and the Six) unfurls a fast-paced and addictive story of a group of celebrity siblings in Malibu. There’s model Nina Riva, pro surfer Jay, photographer Hudson, and Kit, an aspiring professional surfer. The Rivas’ absentee philandering father, Mick, won over their mother, June, with a sultry singing voice that propelled him to stratospheric fame in the 1950s. This setup launches the novel’s two braided timelines: Mick and June’s love story and tragic unraveling, and the narrative of what happens on Saturday, Aug. 27, 1983: the day of the Riva siblings’ legendary annual party. Everyone who’s anyone in Los Angeles attends, the rule being, “If you were cool enough to know about the party, you were cool enough to come to the party.” The author capably tracks the siblings’ emotionally fraught journeys—especially that of Nina, whose husband has run off just before the party—and evokes a bygone Malibu’s natural and social hazards in sharp, descriptive writing, connected by a leitmotif of fire. “Malibu catches fire. It is simply what Malibu does from time to time,” the opening lines read, foreshadowing disaster. Reid’s handling of the various arcs is impressive, but the novel’s climactic scenes verge on melodramatic. Still, this page-turning indulgence hits the spot. (May)