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As a bookworm who does a fair share of scrolling through TikTok, I’ve found myself on what some would call “book-tok”, a subcommunity within the app dedicated to recommending and talking about all things literature. While on a recent scroll, I came across someone discussing a book that stood out to me. The user claimed that this novel is the “hot girl book of the summer.” Being the nerd that I am, I impulsively ran to Barnes and Noble and bought the exclusive version for $30 … and finished the book in 22 hours.

The novel, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, is a story that follows one of her previous characters Mick Riva from another famous novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Mick Riva fell in love with his wife, June, at a young age. It was the start of his rock career, and he promised to give her everything that she ever wanted. The couple went on to have a troubled relationship as they dealt with Mick’s rock star life and his infidelity. This caused their kids to suffer as well. Despite growing up without their famous father around, the Rivas kids made a name for themselves enjoying the passion they all share — surfing.

Now, fast forward to the summer of 1983 as Nina Riva is throwing her annual end-of-summer party, a turning point for everyone that night and especially for the Riva family. It’s the place to be for anyone and everyone in the Hollywood/Malibu area. The story begins at exactly 7 a.m. on the day of the party. The author takes the reader through the day of the four Riva kids: Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit. The chapters take place during different times of the day, with the main story being told through flashbacks that give more information on the backstory of the family, allowing the reader to understand how the siblings got to where they are today.

The storyline is presented in a way that can be confusing for readers. However, in my opinion, it is what makes the book such a page-turner. As an engaged reader, I wanted to know more about the family because at first glance it seems as if the kids have always lived a life of fame and money. The flashbacks and the present storyline fall together perfectly. 

The novel includes romance, heartbreak, traumatic family times, death and overall adversity that no family, child or teen should have to endure. It tugs at the heartstrings, making the reader feel empathy toward the fictional situation, and I often found myself wanting more for the characters. While reading, I felt a whirlwind of emotion. This is a book that I think any romance lover should read. It beautifully tells the story of the Riva’s failed marriage and the love that kept their kids together.

Overall, if I were to rate Malibu Rising, I would say it is a solid 9/10, certainly a page-turner and an amazing read, but I feel the ending could have been so much more. Being told in the format of a 24-hour time span, the anticipation is what kept me wanting more, so the end was a bit of a letdown.

No worries, I won’t give away any spoilers. However, with the way it all ended I feel there could be so much more in store for the characters.  Perhaps Jenkins has a sequel in mind for this novel.

I am not so sure if I would call Malibu Rising a “hot girl book,” but I definitely could see it being the book of the summer.

Photo courtesy of Ballantine Books

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