Malibu Rising Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide

Taylor Jenkins Reid has done it again. Her most recent novel, Malibu Rising, has become an instant fan favorite. Malibu Rising has everything readers love – flawed characters, real-life conflict, and a captivating story you probably read in one sitting.

Over the course of 24 hours, the Riva siblings deal with messy family dynamics, the dark side of fame, and a house party gone terribly wrong. All of these reasons make Malibu Rising the perfect choice for your book club. Now that you’re ready to discuss the novel, check out our Malibu Rising Book Club Discussion Guide. It has everything you need to facilitate an engaging conversation, including a synopsis and a list of Malibu Rising Book Club Questions. These questions will ensure a meaty conversation that will stay with you long after you finish the book. 

Malibu Rising book club questions

Once you’re done with Malibu Rising, check out the selected reviews and see what other people have to say about the novel. Will you agree with the reviewers?

If you loved the book and are looking for your next book club read, consider picking a book off our list of 3 books like Malibu Rising at the end of the discussion guide.

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Malibu Rising Synopsis

Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, the family drama that ensues will change their lives will change forever.

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 for him 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 rising to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

10 Malibu Rising Book Club Questions

  1. What was your first impression of each sibling? Did this impression change as the story went on?
  2. Author Reid juxtaposes the siblings’ childhood with their current lives and poses the question, “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?”

    In what way did you see the siblings struggle with who they were as a kid vs. who they are now? Is this something you can relate to?
  3. Family is a huge theme throughout the novel. Reid has said that “…family is found… whether it be blood or circumstance or choice that, what binds us does not matter. All that matters is we are bound.”

    How did Reid show that family does not have to be related by blood, but instead by circumstance?
  4. Furthermore, in what ways was the bond between the Riva’s challenged?
  5. “Our family histories are simple stories. They are myths we create about the people who come before us, in order to make sense of ourselves.”

    Arguably, Nina was the most affected by the dual hit of their father leaving and the subsequent downfall of their mother. How does she overcompensate for her mother not being there for her siblings? What actions does she take, not to become like her mother?
  6. What was Mick’s motive for coming to the party? Do you think he will ever repair the bond with his children?
  7. How do you feel about Mick? If you were a Riva sibling, would you forgive him? Why or why not?
  8. How does Malibu Rising explore the dark side of fame and not everything is as it seems? How might Nina’s home going up in flames at the end of the book further explore this motif?
  9. Which of the Riva siblings (Nina, Jay, Kit, or Hud) do you most relate to and why?
  10. There has been a lot of conversation about the inspirations behind author Reid’s three most recent books. Watch this two-minute clip where she discusses this.

    In it, she says that if she had to compare Nina to any celebrity, it would be Brooke Shields. Do you see the comparisons? Are there other celebrities you would compare Nina to?

Selected Reviews for Malibu Rising

“There are some authors who were born to tell stories and [Taylor Jenkins Reid] is one of them. I love the way I’m always pulled into her books. She has a way of writing words that weep into my very being. Every single thing the characters feel, from the big heart-shattering betrayals to the small moments of sibling pride, I feel…the Riva siblings feel like real people, people I have come to know and understand and appreciate, and I love that.” 

“I sadly did not enjoy this book as much as the first two I read by this author. Firstly, this felt like two separate stories. The first part is mainly flashbacks to the main character’s childhoods and crappy parenting situations. The second part is the actual party and has us following way too many characters to keep track of in such a short time. That made it difficult for me to attach to any of the characters and I think they will be largely forgettable.”

“I’m normally a big fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, so it’s hard to write this review. I’ve really enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six and Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo but this one just didn’t have the magic to draw me in. I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I did with her other books. I know plenty of other readers have loved this one, but it just fell a little flat for me.”

“Five glorious stars. This one will also go in the top ten books for the year. The depth of characters, their motivations, and most importantly the voice, top-shelf skill level…. What carries this book so well is the voice. The transitions are seamless and give a wonderful insight into how the characters feel and react. As a reader, I loved every member of the family, their trials and tribulations were real, and I related to many of them.”


Use our guide to find dozens of book ideas for your group.

3 Books Like Malibu Rising

If you are keen for more fraught family dynamics punctuated by a dramatic fire, then check out Little Fires Burning by Celeste Ng, Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, OR Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. For more rich people problems, try Crazy Rich Asians and Pineapple Street. Malibu Rising was a Today Show Jenna’s book club pick, if you like their choices, we’ve got more guides for her picks. And here are a three other choices for you:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo book cover

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid 

If you love the way Taylor Jenkins Reid writes, you’ll love her other books – like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This novel tells the story of the reclusive Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo, her seven husbands and her many closeted secrets.

Get our guide for Evelyn Hugo. And we also have one for Reid’s Daisy Jones & The Six and Carrie Soto is Back, along with a ranked listing of all of Reid’s books.

If you’ve already read and loved the book, check out our list of books similar to Evelyn Hugo for more ideas.

Sinful lives of trophy wives book cover

Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives by Kristen Miller 

If you loved the glamorous parts of Malibu Rising, Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives should be your next read. Brooke Davis and her tech-billionaire husband live in San Francisco’s exclusive Presidio Terrace. After Brooke befriends other wives in the Presidio, her husband, Jack, becomes worried Brooke will reveal the truth behind their “perfect marriage.” 

The Summer Job book cover

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent 

If you wished you could be like Nina and run away to start a new life, The Summer Job is the book for you. The antagonist, Birby, runs away to starts a new life after making a huge mistake at home. Her best friend gets her a new job at a Scottish hotel for the summer, and she meets a man she ends up falling for. The more time she spends with him, the more she has to lie to her best friend. 

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