E-Book, 384 Pages
By: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 1/4
“How were you supposed to change- in ways both big and small- when your family was always there to remind you of exactly the person you apparently signed an ironclad contract to be?”
This is my fourth novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid (5th book if we’re counting Evidence of the affair which is a novella) and I don’t think I gave any of them less than 4 stars. By this point, She is one of my auto-read authors and I am always excited for whatever she comes up with next. Up to this point my favorite book of her is Evelyn Hugo and Malibu Rising is now in the second place!
I have been hunting for a good family drama novel for a while now. The latest ones I read like Ask Again yes didn’t satisfy the itch! I just love those stories because I like complex families and the dynamics found within those, that’s why I was such a big fan of “Watching Glass Shattered” and “Little Fires Everywhere” and speaking of the latter, this book starts in a very similar way where we know that Malibu’s destiny is to be burned and that that happened in the past many times.
“What broken family—no matter how shattered be reunited? What child, no matter how lost or abandoned, does not ache to be loved?”
The book follows The Riva family, specifically the kids of the singer Mick Riva. They are not kids now because all of them are older than 20 and are starting their own lives. Every year they host a party at Nina’s house and this part ends in a fire as the prologue tells us, so the book explores all the events leading to this fire.
The book is divided into two parts: from 7 am to 7 pm and then 7 pm to 7 am. Every chapter takes place in an hour but there are also chapters intertwined in the first part following the story of Nina’s parents. The format sounds weird but it is very well written, easy to follow and interesting. The writing is great because it is not purple but at the same time is is very gripping, it is the “just one more chapter” kind of story.
As in every TJR novel, the thing that makes the story shine is the characters. They start as strange characters but by the end the reader can’t help but care about them and root for them. I am not gonna delve into a separate discussion of each of them but Nina probably was my favorite because you can see her grow through the story and stand for herself for once. The funny thing is that there is a plethora of characters and the author gives us a glimpse into all of them and they’re all coming to the party for all kind of reasons from the silliest most simplistic ones to the darkest and deepest ones. I think TJR has an unparalleled ability to connect the reader to the secondary characters sometimes in just a paragraph!!
“Nina understood, maybe for the first time, that letting people love you and care for you is part of how you love and care for them.”
The plot is complex because it is a complex family. This is the good type of complexity though because it was interesting and easy to read. I think there were many topics covered but I didn’t think the author overdid it. I like to believe that real life is as complex as painted in this novel which explains my love for such a kind of novels. As I said, the reader gets the ending from the prologue but it doesn’t make it any less intriguing because the reader keeps guessing what’s coming next and what will lead to that ending. Also it is fast paced which is always a plus for me.
Summary: Once again, TJR proves herself with another book that will be a hit for sure. I loved almost everything about it, from the format used to chapter lengths and pacing and most importantly, the writing and characters. I am giving it 4 1/4 out of 5 stars (or 8.5/10) because some parts were points of focus in the story and yet their resolve felt a bit underwhelming. Overall, very happy with it and looking for Reid’s next book already!