*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Malibu Rising, I provide your book club with a brief summary, food ideas and a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
I read Malibu Rising in 2021, just after it was released. Since I took a break from Book Club Bites, I’m just now featuring it here. However, it was one of my favorite novels last year.
After smash hits like Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid has already made a name for herself among serious readers and book clubs. As much as I’ve enjoyed her writing in the past, Malibu Rising has elevated Reid to a new level in my book.
Malibu Rising still has elements of those other novels. Set in Los Angeles, with a famous patriarch, the themes of fame and all its struggles are present. However, this novel focuses primarily on four siblings and their attempts to find their ways in the world, while dealing with less than optimal parents.
At it’s core, its a sibling novel. Which I love.
If you love sibling stories, especially in the face of adversity (think The Nightingale or This Tender Land), Reid takes a more modern twist on the tale. That said, you’ll still find Reid’s edgier subjects in the novel like the blatant selfishness of Hollywood and all that comes with it (parties, drugs, sex).
If you’ve read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, the novel actually follows one of Evelyn’s husbands as he makes a way in the industry, marries his first wife, and has a family with her (all before he meets Evelyn Hugo, who isn’t seen in the novel).
Ultimately, though, it is a story about choosing to stick with the people you love, about allowing family history to touch your life but not control it, and about family in all its shapes and forms.
I encourage you to read it as a book club and discuss the important themes in the novel. It’s a fast-paced novel with plenty to talk about.
I’ve provided book club questions and delicious food ideas for Malibu Rising, including a special recipe for you! So if you are looking for book club ideas and more, keep reading!
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Here’s a brief summary of Malibu Rising:
From the Publisher: “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.”
For Malibu Rising Food Ideas:
Because the main characters run a restaurant where seafood is served, you’re pretty safe serving any type of seafood. It’s set in Malibu, with a large surfing element, too.
But in case you are looking for something else, here are a few of the food ideas from the pages of Malibu Rising:
- 1956 -Mick and June meet – Pacific Fish’s crab cakes and fried clams and surf and turf with banana’s foster for Mick and June’s first date
- 1956 – Mick and June’s engagement – cotton candy then chicken and rice for dinner
- 1959 – Hud arrives – June is cooking her signature roasted chicken with lemon and sage
- Noon – Nina makes “the sandwich” for her siblings – fried clams, cold shrimp, tartar sauce, sliced cheese and a roll (also what she made them after she officially becomes guardian)
- 1971 – June burns the macaroni and cheese
- 1981- Brandon romances Nina (and her siblings) – steak sandwiches with cheese and sliced tomatoes on the side
- Food served at the party – coconut shrimp, feta dip, hummus and pita
The scene were June burns the macaroni and cheeses was such a pivotal scene in the book that I decided to base my recipe on that. And add in a little shrimp as a nod to Pacific Fish.
This one-dish meal will have your book club raving. Rich, creamy, and loaded with cheese, it’s definitely not diet food. But, I have a feeling everyone will still want the recipe.
Trust me when I say you’ll want to try this recipe for your book club!
Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope these food ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for Malibu Rising!
A few tips on cooking Shrimp Mac and Cheese:
Here are a few tips to help make your cooking experience the best it can be!
1) Buy quality medium-sized shrimp. I used pink shrimp. It’s my favorite. But you can use any quality shrimp (peeled, deveined, tail off).
2) You can use different cheeses if you don’t like Gouda. However, I recommend leaving a cheddar as one of your cheeses so that the traditional mac and cheese flavor is there.
3) The cayenne adds a little spice, but not much. After all the half and half and cheese, it’s just enough to add a little flavor. If you are super sensitive to spice, you can omit it.
Be sure to use these tips on this fabulous recipe when you host your book club for Malibu Rising!
Malibu Rising Book Club Recipe:
Shrimp Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces cavatappi or elbow macaroni pasta
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups half and half
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups Gouda shredded
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 1/2 pounds medium raw shrimp peeled and deveined, tails off
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- fresh chopped parsley optional garnish
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Spray a deep 9″ x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook the pasta of choice per package directions to al dente. Drain well and set aside.
- Over medium-low heat, add 4 tablespoons of the butter to a Dutch oven and melt.
- Add garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to the butter. Stirring constantly, for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add flour to the pan and whisk to combine Cook for 2 minutes, stirring fairly constantly, to create a roux.
- Slowly pour in half and half, then the milk, whisking constantly, until lump-free.
- Turn up heat and bring mixture to a simmer and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. (Make sure the bottom of the mixture doesn’t burn.)
- Mix the Gouda and sharp cheddar cheeses in a bowl. Remove Dutch oven from heat and add half of the mixed cheese, stirring softly until the cheese melts.
- Add shrimp and cooked pasta to the Dutch oven. Fold to combine with the sauce. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.
- Add remaining cheese to the top of the dish.
- In a small bowl, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan, and stir until it resembles wet sand.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and the top is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle parsley over the top before serving, if desired.
Malibu Rising Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- Near the beginning, the statement is made that our family histories are stories or myths we tell ourselves about the people who’ve come before us. How do you think that the Riva kids told themselves myths about their parents and in what ways did they know their parents better than they knew themselves?
- Of the Riva kids, who did you most empathize with? Who did you most like?
- Why do you think Nina was able to pick up the torch and be responsible in a way her parents never were? How do you think it affected her negatively? Do you agree with Kit that “too much self-sufficiency was sort of mean to the people who love you?”
- Discuss the way Mick Riva treated June and how she continued to love him. Why do you think that was? Could you have accepted Hud the way June did?
- All of the Riva kids connect deeply with surfing. Why do you think that was? Have you ever been surfing? How do you think the natural, but unpredictable elements of the ocean and the skill needed to work with such elements echoed their relationship with their parents?
- How did you feel about the chapters written from the point of view of some partygoers? Did you think it added or detracted from the main story?
- Do you think some people are capable of being parents and some are not as Mick said? Or do you think capability has nothing to do with it as Nina said?
- Near the end of the book, Nina realizes that the “box” her mother (and father) gave her were not hers to carry. Instead, her job was to sort through, pick what to keep, and discard the rest. We get to chose what we want to carry on to the next generation. How did this resonate with you? What do you think Nina chooses to keep?
- Did you feel like Mick got his “just desserts”? Do you think he felt truly broken and remorseful about his wrongs?
- Have you read other Taylor Jenkins Reid books? How did Malibu Rising compare to her other works?
Have you read Malibu Rising? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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