Book Club Questions for Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

by Heather Caliendo
Malibu Rising Book Cover - Book Club Questions Feature Image
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Book club questions for Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid covers all the different dynamics and storylines in the novel about family. There will be spoilers so for more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review first.

I really liked this one! I thought it had so much more depth than I expected. Both Nina and June’s storylines were very compelling and heartfelt.

Spoiler thoughts— I was so sad for June and it was hard to read of her alcoholism. She just couldn’t get over being left behind by Mick who was very much emotionally abusive to her. I hated that he came back and eventually left her again. Such a selfish, egotistical man.

And Nina! Oh gosh, she really went through it all. Even at a young age, she didn’t trust her father—for good reason. And quickly learned that her mother was not well and had to step in to help. She wasn’t allowed to have any dreams of her own as it all was about taking care of her siblings. I really felt for her. But loved her ending and glad she’s finally going to do something for herself.

The party scenes were entertaining and a good mix of the serious and ridiculous.

The synopsis

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.

Malibu Rising Book Club Questions

  1. Why do you think the author decided to set this story in Malibu during the ’80s?
  2. What were your first impressions of the siblings? Did that change as the story went on?
  3. The story is told in multiple timelines—the majority is focus on the four siblings and their parents. Why was it important for us to read about their parents relationship and fallout?
  4. Their mother June is determined to leave behind her home and family restaurant and believes Mick will be her ticket out of there. But what warning signs did she ignore about Mick?
  5. Let’s talk about the importance and significance of surfing to the four siblings.
  6. Nina was forced to grow up fast and eventually became the caretaker for her siblings. Because of this, Nina never does anything for herself and always puts others first. How is this behavior harmful to herself?
  7. June never gets over Mick leaving her and she becomes an alcoholic. In a true tragic turn, she recognizes she needs to change for her children but she ends up drowning that night, with Nina finding her the next morning. Let’s talk about the impact of their mother’s death on the siblings.
  8. Why didn’t Mick come to the funeral and try to maintain some type of relationship with his kids? Let’s now talk about the impact of an absent father.
  9. Nina is worried she’s following her mother’s path in many ways—especially when her husband leaves her for another woman. How did Nina avoid becoming like her mother?
  10. What did you think about all the details of the party scenes?
  11. Let’s now talk about the dynamic between Jay and Hud. What was your impression of the storyline where Hud falls in love with Jay’s ex-girlfriend?
  12. Kit grows quite a bit in the novel. Let’s talk about her character arc.
  13. Why did Mick come to party and finally face his kids?
  14. Will the siblings ever see their father again? Do they even want to?
  15. Let’s talk about the push for Nina to go to Portugal and leave everything behind including finally selling the family restaurant.
  16. How did the party change the siblings lives for good?
  17. What happens next for all four siblings?

More recommendations

Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Malibu Rising! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If you haven’t ready Daisy Jones yet, your book club needs to read it next!

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

You can order the book on Amazon here. Check out my book club questions here.


The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia

Another book about family and siblings (although in a very different setting) is The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia.

In tiny Merinac, Kansas, Chicken Mimi’s and Chicken Frannie’s have spent a century vying to serve up the best fried chicken in the state–and the legendary feud between their respective owners, the Moores and the Pogociellos, has lasted just as long. No one feels the impact more than thirty-five-year-old widow Amanda Moore, who grew up working for her mom at Mimi’s before scandalously marrying Frank Pogociello and changing sides to work at Frannie’s. Tired of being caught in the middle, Amanda sends an SOS to Food Wars, the reality TV restaurant competition that promises $100,000 to the winner. But in doing so, she launches both families out of the frying pan and directly into the fire. . . 

The last thing Brooklyn-based organizational guru Mae Moore, Amanda’s sister, wants is to go home to Kansas. But when her career implodes, helping the fading Mimi’s look good on Food Wars becomes Mae’s best chance to reclaim the limelight–even if doing so pits her against Amanda and Frannie’s. Yet when family secrets become public knowledge, the sisters must choose: Will they fight with each other, or for their heritage?

You can order the book on Amazon here. Check out my book club questions here.

Happy reading!

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