Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. You’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. Everyone I know is reading this book. Or taking Instagram pictures of this book. Or recommending this book. So, of course I had to see what all of the fuss was about. And, I am going to have to crush some hearts because I didn't really like this book. As an experiment I went to find some of the other books by this author and I was unable to connect with them as well. How interesting, right?
I will say it has stuck with me and not just because it is everywhere I go right now as one of the top marketed summer reads of 2021. I really wanted to like this book more than I did, I will say that but I might be one of those people who have never been able to connect with anything Malibu related. It just seems so out of touch with my daily reality. Am I alone in this? I mean, I had a Malibu Barbie as a kid and I have to admit I never knew Malibu was a real place until way later in life! It was just this magical place where Barbie lived.
So let me stop pre-complaining and get into the novel a bit. We meet Nina, a young model, in her giant house getting ready for her annual party. She was just left by her husband in a national media style scandal and she is worried about how the party will go with all of this focus on the demise of her relationship. We find that she has some siblings, and that most of them love surfing. There’s a lot of this. I think if it is a world you know about, then you will feel excited about it. But if it is something you do not know about, it will just be something that you gloss over!
We learn a bit about Nina’s family background, her famous father who left when she was a kid, her mother who never got over being abandoned by her father, and we learn that Nina pretty much raised her younger siblings and never took much time for herself or for her own life and happiness. I can identify with, connect with, and empathize with this aspect of the book - the family saga, the fate of the kids when it comes to absolute dysfunction in a family.
The party is a big focus of the book, detailing its events hour by hour, and ending with a conclusion that combines the party, family history, and Nina’s path to healing all in one. But overall the book is a slow read with an ending that feels rushed and then over. I think it would be a great episode of some soap opera or a mini series, and I can feel that in the clip and pace of the writing, I kept thinking this feels like a TV script, this could be a show, but then I had to sadly admit to myself I would probably not even watch the show. I know that some of the author’s other books will be made into shows, movies and the like soon and maybe they will come to life more vividly in that format.
I think maybe it takes a very special summer read for me to feel connected to it - is this the case? I am just getting into the idea of light reads, romances, rom-coms, and I have always loved historical fiction and family saga stories. But Malibu Rising feels like some kind of haphazard combo of the two - and yes, novels set in the 80s are now considered historical fiction, guys, as much as it hurts to say this.
I think my predominant feeling about this book is ambivalent. It is pretty, I like new books, I like to read what is popular or being talked about, but sometimes this does not always work out. Am I alone in this? Did you read the book and love it like so many other people? Or did you read it and go huh, guess that’s what that’s about, like me? Chat away in the comments, keep it clean and pleasant as per usual!
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