Malibu Rising chronicles the lives of the four Riva siblings in Malibu, California but the central plot line is the story of a single day in August 1983. It is the day of the Riva’s annual end-of-summer party. In the very first pages, Reid lets the reader know that this story is going to end in flames. That information reeled me in at the start and I just had to see it through. The balmy pre-internet 80s beachy backdrop makes it the perfect book for escapism or a summer beach read.
The siblings share some endearing moments. One of my favorite scenes is when the four kids discover an abandoned surfboard and take turns on it to experience the shared wonder of gliding on the waves for the first time. There is also a bit of a queer storyline, a bit too much infidelity, and a lot of drama. It examines dysfunctional and healthy relationships, the search for love and belonging, found family, and what it means to truly live life for no one else except ourselves.
The more I read books by Reid the more impressed I am by the continued exploration of characters who also appear in her other novels. The author presents the same character through the lens of multiple stories. It is a nod to the idea that people are complex, that we are not the same person with everyone or all the time. Reid is also consistently good at character development, particularly of the female leads. That said, I am looking forward to Carrie Sotto Is Back thanks to the scene Carrie makes at the Riva party in Malibu Rising.
Somehow unintentionally I’ve only picked up the audiobook version of Reid’s books and all of them are well produced. I liked Malibu Rising a lot, but I loved Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo more.
Here are some of my highlights.
- “Nina understood, maybe for the first time, that letting people love you and care for you is part of how you love and care for them.”
- “Too much self-sufficiency was sort of mean to the people who loved you, Kit thought. You robbed them of how good it feels to give, of their sense of value.”
- “Family is found…whether it be blood or circumstance or choice, what binds us does not matter. All that matters is that we are bound.”
- “But a good life is knowing people care about you, knowing you can take care of the people that count on you.”
- “Nina didn’t hate Carrie Soto for stealing her husband because husbands can’t be stolen. Carrie Soto wasn’t a thief; Brandon Randall was a traitor.”