Written by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books, June 1, 2021
My star rating – 4 stars
Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
It’s official. I’m convinced that Taylor Jenkins Reid can do no wrong. I loved this book for all the same reasons I’ve loved her other books. The characters are just amazing! I will say though, that this book is so hard to review. There’s little to no plot and will all come down to how you relate and fall in love with the characters. Since this author is an epic character writer, i’m sure you won’t have any problems!
Before I get into the meat of the review, I feel that I need to mention a few things to all the people who were possibly on the fence about this one. If you’ve read and loved her other books The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo or Daisy Jones and the Six, there are a few parallels mentioned in this book that were in those! If you want to figure them out for yourself, don’t finish this paragraph! The main character of this book and father of all the children in this book is Mick Riva. Sound familiar? He was one of Evelyn Hugo’s husbands! I believe (correct me if i’m wrong) that he was husband number 3. He also apparently appeared in Daisy Jones (though I don’t remember) which makes sense because they’re all a part of the music scene. ALSO – Nina Riva got her big break when she was featured in a magazine surfing a wave. The name of the magazine, Vivant, sounded familiar – it’s the very same magazine that the journalist that was hired to feature Evelyn Hugo’s story! The universe gets bigger and i’m loving it!
One of the things that I loved most about this book is that it takes place in the span of 24 hours. It’s the day of the infamous Riva party. We start at 7am as the Riva siblings prepare for the event, and we end at 7am the following day with the California coastline in flames. I really enjoyed following such a close sequence of events!
Now here’s the thing – there are A LOT of flashbacks. At the beginning of the story, we get more flashbacks than current day scenes. At first it annoyed me. I didn’t want to hear how their parents met! I wanted to know what was going on with the party and how the fire started! Soon enough I got completely sucked into the origin story of the family and realized just how important those flashbacks are. We need those to understand why their parents ended up where they are. We needed to know what happened with their parents to understand why the siblings are the way they are. If we didn’t get the back story, the current day situation wouldn’t mean as much to us.
Those characters – UGH! So freaking good! Each of the siblings had such a distinct personality. Nina was the mother hen – keeping it all together and always worried about others before herself. Jay is the super talented surfer with a promising future, but is holding a secret that changes everything. Hud is the level headed softie with the heart of gold, who also happens to be sleeping with his brothers ex. And Kit, the baby of the family, is trying to find her place as a grown up and get out under the protection of her overbearing siblings. All of them are so set in their ways and loyal to the ends of the earth. They love so fiercely – it makes me wish I had a sibling!
If you’re looking for a plot, you may be disappointed. This is about a party where all the famous people will be circulating, that ends with Malibu on fire. That’s literally it! This is 100% character driven…. It was glorious in my opinion lol. It makes you sit back and really think about family and love, as well as how the decisions you make can shape a life.
If you loved Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones, I have zero doubt that you’ll love this one as well!
Until next time, happy reading!