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For June 2021, Jenna Bush Hager selected "Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid as her book club pick. The book is about four siblings, Nina, Jay, Kit and Hud, who are the children of a famous rock star named Mick Riva. The adult brothers and sisters are Malibu natives, each with their own successes and struggles as adults.
When the sun comes up after Nina Riva's annual summer party, her Malibu mansion is engulfed in flames. The book tells the story of the rising tension and secrets that caused these events to unfold in a 24-hour period with flashbacks that provide insight into the family's beginnings.
After reading Reid's brilliant summer novel, take a deeper dive into the story with these discussion questions provided by the publisher.
- Just because something looks like paradise, doesn’t mean it's heaven. How does "Malibu Rising" explore the darker realities of fame and fortune? How is fame different for women than it is for men? What kinds of expectations do we place on female celebrities?
- Early on, Taylor Jenkins Reid writes, “Our family histories are simply stories. They are myths we create about the people who came before us, in order to make sense of ourselves.” Do you agree? How did this book make you think about your own family history?
- Which Riva sibling — Nina, Jay, Kit or Hud — did you relate to the most, and why? How are these siblings alike and how are they different?
- As Taylor Jenkins Reid said, she is often inspired by time and place. The "Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" was set in Hollywood in the '60s. "Daisy Jones & The Six" was about '70s rock 'n' roll in Southern California. Now, with "Malibu Rising," she’s exploring Malibu in the '80s. Why do you think time and place are so important? How does the author bring the '80s Malibu scene to life?
- This novel is in part about the way we repeat the mistakes of our parents or try to avoid doing so. How was Nina’s life shaped by her mother’s? How has your own life been shaped by the people who raised you?
- "Malibu Rising" is also about sibling relationships. Nina is the firstborn dutiful daughter, Jay thinks he’s the man of the house, Hud is the peacemaker, and Kit is always left out. All of that is based on what they’ve learned from one another. Discuss the nature of sibling rivalry. Why do you think sibling dynamics can be so complicated? How do we use our siblings to define our own personalities?
- Mick is essentially the villain in the book, but he’s also portrayed with sympathy and humanity. Why do you think that is? What did you make of his character? Do you think he got what he deserved in the end?
- Talk about the structure of the novel. Why do you think the narrative takes place within 24 hours? How does that influence the pacing of the story?
- Destruction and renewal are big themes in the book. Where do you see these at play? What is interesting about those concepts? What other themes did you notice?
- The novel is bookended by scenes of fire burning. What is the significance of fire? How are these scenes symbolic? What does it mean to have a ”nature to burn”?
- Super fans: How did "Malibu Rising" compare to "Daisy Jones & The Six" and "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo"? Did you notice any Easter eggs or recurring characters?
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For more book recommendations, check out:
- All of Jenna Bush Hager's book club picks
- Jenna Bush Hager's June 2021 book club pick will transport you to the beach
- Jenna Bush Hager shares her top 10 favorite vacation reads