Should I Read It? Malibu Rising, the epic family drama everyone is talking about.

Now and then, a book comes along that's universally loved by everyone who picks up a copy. 

I have a feeling Taylor Jenkins Reid's latest novel, Malibu Rising, is that book for 2021. 

You're probably already seeing it everywhere and the buzz around Malibu Rising is only going to, well, rise, as more and more people stick their noses between its glorious pages. 

In Mamamia's brand new series, Should I Read It?, I deep dive into the latest buzzy book and break down what all the fuss it about. 

Keep reading to find out what Malibu Rising is about and whether you should read it (hint: of course, you bloody should): 

What is Malibu Rising about?

It's August 1983 and the Riva siblings are preparing for their annual end of summer party. 

There's Nina, a surfing supermodel whose husband, the best tennis player in the world, has just left her for another tennis player. Jay, a championship surfer who's still reeling from being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, Ashley. Hud, Jay's 'twin' brother, a talented photographer, who's now madly in love with Ashley. And finally Kit, the baby of the family, who's still figuring out who she is and who she wants to be. 

For the past few years, the Rivas' party has been the hottest ticket in town. A place where the cast of Family Ties share a joint with the newest voice in literary fiction, while Rob Lowe swings from the chandelier. 

But by the end of the night, family secrets will come to surface, long-lost family members will show up out of the blue, trays of cocaine will be passed around while the Riva siblings come to blows on the back lawn, and a Malibu mansion will go up in flames. 

Who's the author? 

Malibu Rising was written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, a bestselling author whose books, Daisy Jones and The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo have been dominating the bestseller lists over the past few years. 

She lives in LA with her husband, their daughter and their dog. And yeah, you can follow her on Instagram

Is it a sprint, a marathon, or a hike?

It's a sprint. 

Malibu Rising is the kind of book you'll pick up and not put down until you've read the very last sentence.


Come for the...

The family secrets, the nostalgia of the 80s and old school Hollywood, and the fast-paced narrative. 

Stay for the...

The beautiful writing and the loveable, fully fleshed out characters. 

What books will it remind you of?

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

Anything by Marian Keyes but specifically her books about the Walsh sisters - Watermelon, Rachel's Holiday, Anybody Out There?, and Angels

And finally, if you loved Taylor Jenkins Reid's other books - Daisy Jones and The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, you'll love Malibu Rising

How long is it?

Clocking in at around 369 pages, Malibu Rising is the kind of book you can read in a weekend. Or one sitting if you find yourself unable to tear yourself away from the Riva family. 

How will it make you feel? 


There are a few moments in the book that had me shedding a tear - but that was because it was so beautifully written and I felt so invested in the characters and their stories. I really wanted the best for those Riva siblings. 

There were a few laugh out loud moments, but mostly the writing is just so goddamn beautiful and packed full of clever observations. 


It'll make you think of your own family, your place in the world, and how you carry the people who raised you with you wherever you go, whether they're still with you or not. 

What are some of the best quotes? 

Like I said, Malibu Rising is packed full of beautiful sentences and clever observations. Here are some of my favourites: 

  • “Our family histories are simply stories. They are myths we create about the people who came before us, in order to make sense of ourselves.”
  • “Alcoholism is a disease with many faces, and some of them look beautiful.”
  • “Our parents live inside us, whether they stick around or not... They express themselves through us in the way we hold a pen or shrug our shoulders, in the way we raise our eyebrow. Our heritage lingers in our blood.”
  • “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.” 
  • “She thought of her children like the magic grow capsules you got at gift shops at the science museum. These tiny little nothings that you drop into water and then watch as they slowly reveal what they were always destined to be. This one a Stegosaurus, this one a T. Rex. Except, instead, it was watching them become dependable, or talented, or kind, or daring.”

How many stars would I give it? 

I give Malibu Rising five stars, or five Rob Lowes swinging from the chandelier. Honestly, I found it hard to find any fault in this book. 

So, should you read it?


Malibu Rising is a bloody great book. The kind of book you'll wish you could go back in time and experience for the first time all over again. 

It's got all the elements of a crackin' good novel - a page-turning plot, fully fleshed out, flawed, relatable characters, GOSSIP AND DRAMA, and little lessons you'll take with you long after you've read the final page. 

Also, it's bloody entertaining and we all need that right now. 

Keryn Donnelly is Mamamia's Pop Culture Editor. For more of her TV, film and book recommendations and to see photos of her dog, follow her on Instagram

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