Monday, July 19, 2021

"Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I felt like it was time for a "beach read" (or a "summer-y" read, at least, since I'm not anywhere near a beach right now...!) -- and "Malibu Rising," the new novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Reid is also the author of "Daisy Jones and the Six" (among other books), which I read and thoroughly enjoyed (and reviewed here) two years ago. 

While "Daisy" was set in the 1970s,  the main action in "Malibu Rising" unfolds over 24 hours on a single day in the early 1980s  -- Saturday, August 27, 1983, to be specific -- the day of Nina Riva's huge, infamous annual party at her beautiful beachfront home. Nina, 25 -- who has just been dumped by her tennis pro husband -- is a surfer, swimsuit model, restaurateur and mother figure to her siblings -- the eldest of legendary singer Mick Riva's four children. The others are Jay, a professional surfer whose days riding the board may be numbered;  Hud, a talented photographer, torn between his love for his brother -- and his love for his brother's ex-girlfriend;  and Kit, the baby of the family at 20, struggling in her siblings' shadows to carve out an identity for herself. (I loved all four of these kids -- Nina and Kit especially -- and the bonds between them.)   All four are keeping secrets from each other... all of which, of course, threaten to be revealed at Nina's big party... 

In flashbacks going back to the late 1950s, we meet Mick Riva (whose famous lips bring to mind another Mick of the same time period) and his first wife/the children's mother, June Costa, who yearns for a life beyond her parents' seafood restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway -- and winds up getting a whole lot more than she bargained for. 

"Malibu Rising" features some improbable coincidences and plot twists, a large cast of peripheral (mostly superfluous) characters that was sometimes hard to keep track of, and an ending that was just a *tad* unbelievable. But, like "Daisy Jones and the Six," this book was, quite simply, a lot of fun to read. It kept me turning the pages. 

Also like "Daisy," it took me back to a great time in my life. I was a 22-year-old student in 1983 (which would make me younger than Jay and Hud, but older than Kit).  It also reminded me of the silly "Beach Party" and "Gidget" movies from the 1960s that I loved to watch when I was a kid (and still do -- one of my big guilty pleasures!). "Malibu Rising" has a cinematic quality to it, and I'm sure the eventual movie version will be fun to watch too. I don't know if he can sing, but I'm picturing George Clooney as Mick. ;)  

3.5 stars on Goodreads, rounded up to 4.  

P.S. Random House, the book's publisher, has generated two book-related playlists on Spotify (one for Nina and one for the book generally).  :)  (I actually found a third playlist, put together by a fan of the book. It has some good summertime/beach songs on it -- but also some music that, while perhaps in the spirit of Malibu/California, is not exactly from the period of the book -- e.g., Miley Cyrus (b.1992)?? Taylor Swift (b.1989)?? Olivia Rodrigo (b.2003)??)  

This was Book #38 read to date in 2021 (and Book #4 finished in July), bringing me to 106%! of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I have now completed my challenge for the year, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 19 (!) books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books." 

*** *** *** 

Future Dh & me at the airport
in Toronto, August 1983.
I was 22 and he was 26.
I've kept every calendar and datebook I've had since the early 1970s, and although "Malibu Rising" is entirely fictional, I couldn't resist pulling out my 1983 datebook to see what I was doing on Saturday, August 27th, 38 years ago.  :)  In April that year, I wrapped up my four-year bachelor of arts degree at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. I missed my convocation ceremony so that I could start a year-long master's degree program in journalism at the University of Western Ontario in London in early May, and the first term ended with a two-week break in mid/late August.  

Future Dh (doing his own graduate program in Windsor) and I took the train to Toronto, and I flew home to Manitoba from there on Saturday, August 20th. I had only visited Toronto for the first time -- and met his entire family! -- a month earlier in mid-July, for his brother's 21st birthday.  At that time, my parents were living in a small town about an hour south and west of Brandon, in western Manitoba. (They'd been there since late 1980. In April 1984, they moved to another Manitoba town where they still live today.) 

I noted in my datebook that the Police (the band) were playing a concert in Winnipeg on Saturday, August 27th.  I did not go (never did see them...). The day before that (Friday, August 26th), my mom dropped me off in Brandon to visit a friend there. (I did not have my driver's license then, and while I finally did get it, two years later, I still don't drive often!) I have no memory of that visit, and there's nothing in my datebook to enlighten me on what we did or whether I spent the night at her place, but that's probably where I was that Saturday. :)  

Later in the next week, Mom & I went to Minnesota to visit my grandparents for a few days. My 71-year-old grandfather had had a heart attack in early July. I don't remember much about that visit, and I don't have any photos in my albums (we didn't take as many back then), but I'm sure it was emotional to see them again. (Also noted in my datebook:  my great-aunt's birthday was on August 30th. She turned 60 that year -- the same age I am now!  She died in 2008 at age 84.)  

On Thursday, Sept. 1st, Mom & I checked into a motel in the town that had been home to us for six years in the late 1970s (midway between Winnipeg and Brandon), where I graduated from high school in 1979.  One of my best friends from those high school days -- the same one who lost her daughter in November 2019 -- was getting married the following day (on Friday, Sept. 2nd), and another friend was hosting a shower/get-together that night for all her friends in town who could make it, whether they were invited to the wedding or not. I hadn't seen some of these people since graduation day.  The wedding day was hot, hot, hot, but I had a good time. I remember watching "The Godfather" -- both the original movie and the sequel -- on TV at the motel that weekend, and reading the book around the same time. 

The next day (Saturday, Sept. 3rd), Mom drove me into Winnipeg and I flew back to Toronto where Future Dh met my plane. I wrote in my datebook that David Bowie was playing the CNE (Canadian National Exposition -- think state fair) two nights in a row that weekend, but we did not go. Dh was never a Bowie fan -- although I do remember him taking me to the CNE that year -- so it would have to have been that/Labour Day weekend, since I left for Manitoba on opening weekend, and the CNE always closes on Labour Day Monday. We rode one of these chairlift-type things that took us from one end of the CNE grounds to the other, with a fabulous view of the Toronto skyline along the way. The CN Tower had been built a few years earlier, and several of the big bank towers, but overall, the skyline then looked a lot different then than it would today...! and the factories that surrounded the CNE grounds then have since given way to condos. 

We stayed with Future Dh's dad & brother, and visited with other relatives before returning to our respective schools on Labour Day Monday, for the start of the next term on Tuesday. 


  1. I love this snapshot of your life back in August 1983. How great to have those memories recorded. And I love those photos of you and your DH - adorable!

    Trying to guess what I would have been doing a Saturday in August 1983. I was flatting (sharing a rental flat) with now-DH and three other friends in Christchurch (South Island) at university. Probably finishing final essays/assignments in the last year of my BA, before we needed to start revising for final exams in October. It would have still been winter, and cold.

  2. I just watched Gidget for the first time a couple of months ago. We got the Turner Classic Movies channel and I've been watching all sorts of movies ever since. I love the no commercials especially while I'm sewing.

    I love your picture of you and DH!! Thank you for sharing! It is so nice to hear what a week in your life looked like back in college. Well, in between college and grad school. Very cool.