Book recs: ‘Malibu Rising’ is thrilling read of extravagance, mystery


Photo from Penguin Random House

The secrets of the Riva family are brought to light in Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel.

Gianna Cocovinis, Staff Writer

While it may soon be time to hang up our shorts and favorite bathing suits in favor of long sleeves and winter jackets, there’s still one last thrilling summer read to chase away the chilly weather. “Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid follows the story of a beautiful, wealthy family spending their days soaking up the waves in the beautiful beach town of Malibu. It was on one of those days that the most anticipated, outrageous and completely off-the-wall party of the summer was about to be thrown by Nina Riva, one of the four famous offspring of Mick Riva, world-renowned singer of the late 50s.  

This party is the single, most highly revered social event of the season. More important than the Golden Globes and even the Oscars, this party brings together all the different echelons of Hollywood’s elite. From A-list actors, to MTV executives and even a few Olympians, this party has taken on its own gravitational pull. However, Nina can’t bring herself to enjoy the anticipation swelling through the town. The only other person not looking forward to the party is Hud Riva, another of the four Riva siblings, who’s been nursing a deep secret he can’t quite bring himself to fess up to in the face of his other brother, Jay. Not to mention Kit, who sees this party as a chance to emerge out of the daunting shadows cast by her famous siblings and larger-than-life father. 

Aside from being a great party destination, there is a caveat to Malibu, and that is its inclination to burn. Just a single spark holds the potential to spiral into a full-on inferno. By midnight the party will be bursting at the seams, oozing alcohol and vibrating with music as a motley of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities let loose at the annual celebration. But by the early hours in the morning, Malibu will be up in flames. 

Before the mayhem and disaster sends Malibu into ashes on the wind, the Riva family will slowly start to uncover secrets about themselves and each other that have been bubbling under the surface for generations. It is ultimately up to them to decide what lies and secrets they will allow to consume them, and what they are willing to let go of in order to keep their family together. 

“Malibu Rising” is a book that gripped me from the very start. Some of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, such as “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and “Daisy Jones and the Six,” have orbited my radar in months past, but this was my first time taking a chance on one of her works, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. 

With a writing style that evokes both deep thought and emotion, Reid completely submerges the reader in the lives of these characters. I found myself rooting for them and wincing each time they made a questionable choice for themselves. That’s what a good book does, I’ve realized. It takes these characters with their stories and lifts them off the page until the people in them feel real and capable of great triumph, but also of great error. Taylor Jenkins Reid managed to capture that human habit beautifully in her work. With a writing style that’s slick and subtle as a knife, you don’t realize she’s sucker punched you in the heart until a few lines down. To me, that’s the testament not only of a good book, but also a powerful writer. Like its famous swells and tides, Malibu Rising will sweep you up and take you on one thrilling ride.