While You Are Waiting for… Malibu Rising

This Summer’s blockbuster book is Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and if it proves to be as entertaining as her previous novels, it should be worth the hold-queue wait. The novel begins by introducing us to the adult Riva children, in the early 1980s, getting ready for a massive bash at their Malibu mansion. By this point, all of the children are pretty successful, and all of their success comes through their connections to Malibu’s surf culture, even though they are also the children of mega rock star Mick Riva. The story flashes back to the mid-50s, when Mick meets June, their mother, in the days before his career really took off. Mick and June’s romance is all encompassing and they quickly marry and have the first two children. Mick then abandons the family for another woman, though not before landing June with the other woman’s child. June breaks down, becomes overly dependent on alcohol, and the children are left to more or less raise themselves. Nina, a beauty, becomes a model in order to support the family and raise the younger children, and her success means the younger children are able to thrive despite the abandonment. There are many other secrets and joys along the way, leading up to the novels main focus, the day of the party. The ensuing evening of celebrity and party madness will result in the total destruction of the mansion by fire (this is not a spoiler, by the way, but to reveal the cause would be). The main plot covers just a 24-hour period, and the book is atmospheric and propulsive, and lots of fun to read.

While your waiting for your copy, here are some other favorites you might enjoy:

The first of these is Daisy Jones and the Six, Reid’s novel from a couple of years ago and another book loaded with cultural touchstones. Told in the form of a behind-the-scenes documentary, Reid collects the stories of the members of a fictional 1970s rock band. The members all have their struggles and resentments, particularly the two main figures of the band, Daisy and Billy, whose fire-and-ice romance has a heavy influence on the band’s success, as well as it’s ultimate dissolution. The book is full of the atmosphere of LA in the 1970s, and I couldn’t put it down. If you’ve already read that one, you might also try The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, by Dawnie Walton. Watch a review of that one here, in the second part of this Book Spots episode: https://www.instagram.com/tv/COgKckcJgV6/

The next book I would suggest checking out, if you’re looking for another in which a family must contend with the fallout of a truly bad father, is All This Could Be Yours, by Jami Attenberg. The domineering patriarch of the Tuchman family has succumbed to a heart attack, and the rest of his family, his two children and long-suffering wife, are called to his bedside in his final hours. The daughter arrives, but the son, Gary, remains at a distance and instead his wife attends. Over the course of the brief but intensely sharp narrative, we learn the long held family secrets the members won’t reveal to each other, no matter how fervently they are urged. What drove the mother to stay with her abusive, criminal husband, even though he was making life so unbearable for his children? What brings Alex, the older daughter, back to the heat of New Orleans to be by his side, even though the wounds from her youth are still open? Even Gary’s wife, Twyla, seemingly innocuous, has secrets to be revealed. Jami Attenberg writes with poignant humor and treats her characters with grace amidst the pain. You might also try The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

If you’d prefer your family saga beach-side, try Elin Hildebrand’s recent Summer of ’69. Set in the year of the title, on the island of Nantucket, the Foley-Levins are gathered at their home, All’s Well. Each member of the family has their own issues to contend with. The eldest daughter is pregnant with twins and suffers under the depressive tendencies of her astrophysicist husband; Tiger, the only son, has been recently drafted to the War; and youngest sister Kirby, was recently arrested for protesting the war and is currently fleeing disapproval for an interracial relationship. Hildebrand weaves in many familiar markers of the tumultuous period, creating a portrait at once personal and culturally resonant. If you’d like to throw a little glamour into the mix, you could also try High Season by Judy Blundell.

Need even more suggestions? Check out our new library displays, our Reading Room Page, or join us for our next Book Brunch virtual book share!