Friday Book Whimsy: Malibu Rising

From its title, Malibu Rising sounds a bit like a beach read. I have nothing against beach reads, but I haven’t even been in the vicinity of a beach this summer. In fact, aside from a trip to Vermont, I mostly haven’t been outside of my back yard. Still, author Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote two of my favorite books of all time: Daisy Jones & the Six, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I was ready to give this book a try.

What I like best about this author is that she doesn’t tackle books in a traditional way. Daisy Jones & the Six is presented as an oral history, making it unique and extremely readable. I hoped for the best from Malibu Rising, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Every year, Nina and her siblings (Jay, Hud, and Kit) hold a summer-ending party. Nineteen eighty-three was no exception. Except this party changed many lives completely.

These four are the children of a famous singer who knows how to entertain but doesn’t know how to be a faithful husband or a good father. He leaves his family when the children are young. His wife tries her best, but sadness and the stress of raising four kids alone drives her to drink herself to death when Nina — the eldest — is only 16 years old. She reaches out to her father, but doesn’t hear back from him. She quits high school to take care of her siblings the best that she can.

While the bulk of the story takes place in a single day, flashbacks tell the story of how the four cope with their unusual family situation. Once she turns 18, Nina takes over the restaurant that her mother’s family always ran. Jay becomes a professional surfer, while the youngest — Kit — tries to figure out where she fits into the family.

They author’s description of the party are vivid and crazy. There are no invitations, if you hear about the party, you can come. Alcohol and drugs are plentiful. Famous people mix with blue-collar workers. Nina’s siblings look forward to the party every year. This year, Nina — in the midst of getting a divorce from her famous husband — is not as enthusiastic.

Normally back-and-forth stories are troublesome to me. I sometimes find them confusing. The author’s telling of this story is, however, seamless. The characters are interesting and realistic. Most important, though they could be obnoxious, they are likable. Well, at least the main characters are likable.

Malibu Rising is a story of survival and figuring out who you are amidst chaos and confusion. The ending was satisfying, except for the fact that I wasn’t ready to be done reading. Yes, it was that good.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Earlier this year when we were really pretty confined to our homes and there was little else to do but read, I read a surprisingly good novel called Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I say surprisingly because the format was very unusual, written as an oral biography. Normally I like more traditional formats. But once I started reading it, I was drawn in completely. I reviewed that book here. 

To be completely honest, I didn’t realize that the author of that book was the same as The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo until I was through a couple of chapters. I should have, however, because once again the format was somewhat unusual. While much traditional than Daisy Jones, it still took a bit of getting used to.

Evelyn Hugo was a poor Cuban-American girl who grew up in NYC with an abusive father. She was determined to get out of her situation. She knew it was possible because she was simply beautiful. Movie star beautiful. As soon as she could, she used her beauty to get out of NYC and into movies. This led to that, and she eventually became famous, in fact, a Hollywood institution.

And now she is ready to tell her story. But she will only tell her story to an unknown writer named Monique Grant. Nobody is more confused than Monique herself as to why the Hollywood legend insisted on her writing the biography. Evelyn insists on only one thing: Monique must tell Evelyn’s true story, every bit of it.

We learn about the actress via her interviews with Monique. And she breaks down her story by each husband.

“Who was the love of your life?” Monique asks the actress early on. The truth, in fact, many truths, came as a surprise to this reader. Through the interviews, we learn about the strength of one woman to change her very world. We learn the true meaning of love.

It was a wonderful book.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: Daisy Jones & the Six

Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was a breath of fresh air. I read a lot. Some books are good; some aren’t so good. But they all basically follow the same format. This novel was something new altogether. New and refreshing.

Written as an oral biography, this NOVEL tells the story of rock music in the 70s through the lives of two very talented rock musicians. The format was so realistic that I will admit to googling Daisy Jones and the Six on more than one occasion to make sure that it was fiction. It was. Very good fiction.

I grew up in the 70s. It’s true I wasn’t particularly a traditional rock music fan, but I know enough about rock music and the musicians involved to know that this novel told not only an interesting story, but one that was pretty realistic. Lots of music and drugs and sex. Welcome to the 1970s.

Daisy Jones was the only child of two people who couldn’t have cared less whether or not they had a child. She basically raised herself. Her life revolved around music. She loved listening to it. She loved writing it. She loved singing it. She wanted music to be her life’s work.

When she met Billy Dunne, and his rock band called the Six, it was a marriage made in heaven. Billy was just like Daisy: music was everything in his life. That, along with the woman he loved and eventually for whom he changed his life to keep her.

Daisy Jones & the Six is a story of love and friendship and music, all wrapped around life in the 1970s. I couldn’t put the book down. I loved both Daisy and Billy, and was happy that music shaped their lives just as they had hoped.

I strongly recommend Daisy Jones & the Six, particularly for anyone who grew up in the 70s.

Here is a link to the book.