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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid: A 5 STAR Review

Daisy Jones and the Six was one of my favorite reads last year, so when I saw a new TJR title, I did a little happy dance. Admittedly, my wheelhouse is thriller/horror/suspense, but when the writing's this good, genre doesn't matter much. I ugly cried reading Daisy Jones, so I had equal expectations for Malibu Rising, and I was not disappointed. Siblings Nina, Hud, Jay, and Kit have taken care of themselves for as long as they can remember. Their father, famous musician Mick Riva, was never really part of their lives, their mother did the best she could with what she had, and as the four prepare for their annual Riva party--the IT event in Malibu where everyone who's anyone will be in attendance--an unexpected night of revelations will force them to confront their own

personal demons. One night changes everything. I *LOVED* this book. Reid's writing is spectacular. She builds her fictional world with such an authentic voice that it's impossible not be engrossed by it. With her casual allusions to imaginary famous artists mixed with real-life references, it's an interesting way to set the tone and build the setting without relying completely on pop cultural references. And she does this not through high-stakes driven plot--although the stakes do feel high at different junctures--but through expert character development and emotional investment. This is definitely a character driven narrative, and Reid's storytelling shines. We get intricate backstories and layered anecdotes that draw out our characters in visual pieces. Indeed, even the minor characters are given a voice, if only for a chapter, and each new voice brings a slightly different level of connection to the main storyline. The alternating timelines worked well because of this, as we get to see the circumstances spanning decades that bring us to this one significant night. Not only does this emphasize how the little decisions matter as much as the big ones, but also how time is a construct, and the relationships we form (and how we form them) are based on our own life experiences. I related to Nina's character so much. With beautiful moments of resilience and heartbreaking choices, I found her arc to be the most satisfying. No spoilers, of course, but her growth resonates for numerous reasons, and I think readers will fall in love with her. At its heart, this is a story about family. I'm glad to see this explosion of sibling-centered fiction coming to light. This Is Us, Umbrella Academy--the connections we have to our siblings--by birth or by choice--are just as important as the romantic endeavors we pursue. Reid explores the complexity of love through a mother and child. An estranged father and the daughter he never knew. An unrequited fling and the search for the real thing. Malibu Rising is a gut-wrenching, heart-exploding, smart story that will leave you in tears in the best possible way. Out in June, this is easily on my best-of 2021. Big thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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