Step into the sun-kissed world of Malibu, August 1983, where four sensational siblings are about to throw an unforgettable party to bid farewell to the age-old summer season.
Here you will meet the extraordinary Rivas: Nina, the enchanting supermodel, and surfer extraordinaire; Jay and Hud, the dynamic duo of surfing and photography; and Kit, their beloved baby sister. Born into the luminous legacy of rock legend Mick Riva, the Rivas are the epitome of fame and fascination.
But as the hours tick away, their lives will be forever altered, with secrets, love, and chaos colliding under the starry Malibu sky.
In this discussion guide, we will have a look at some amazing book club questions for Malibu Rising and why it’s a must-read for anyone looking to understand that behind a family, lies hidden secrets of jealousy, pain and nothing but pure angst.
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10 Malibu Rising Book Club Questions For Discussion
- The novel uses the metaphor of fire to represent both destruction and rebirth in the lives of its characters, especially the Riva siblings. The Malibu fire of 1983, started unknowingly by their father, Mick, devastates their home and seemingly their lives. However, it also marks a turning point for each of them, symbolizing the burning away of their past and the start of a new chapter. What’s your take on the way this theme of destruction and rebirth manifests throughout the novel and the way the characters, particularly the Riva siblings, respond to and grow from these experiences?
- The complex relationships between the Riva siblings, Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit, significantly drive the narrative of the novel. They have endured shared traumas, like the abandonment by their father Mick, and the death of their mother June, and individual struggles, from Nina’s public humiliation and failed marriage to Jay’s hidden heart condition, Hud’s secret affair with Jay’s ex, and Kit’s sexual self-discovery.
Discuss how these shared and individual experiences shape the dynamics between the siblings throughout the narrative.
- Mick Riva, the absentee father of the Riva siblings, is a complex character who is driven by self-interest and lacks parental responsibility. His recurring abandonment and neglect have left indelible scars on his children’s lives, yet he shows up at the party expressing the desire to be a part of their lives again.
How do the various interactions between Mick and his children throughout the narrative underscore the lasting impacts of his actions? Also, what do you think of the way these interactions shape our understanding of the character of Mick and the concept of fatherhood and responsibility?
- Nina Riva’s journey throughout the novel is marked by her struggle to break free from the burdens of the past and her role as a caretaker to her siblings. Her confrontation with her ex-husband Brandon, her public rejection of her father Mick, and her decision to leave for Portugal reflect her growing assertion of personal autonomy.
Discuss Nina’s character transformation from a compliant caretaker to an independent woman being the face of personal growth, self-assertion, and liberation in the face of societal and personal pressures.
- Jay Riva, in his fear of losing celebrity status due to a diagnosed heart condition, mirrors his father Mick Riva’s fear of losing attention and wealth. The surf champion exhibits similar patterns to his father’s, especially with his overenthusiastic romance with Lara and handling his breakup with Ashley. How does Jay’s character development throughout the novel reflect on the theme of inherited traits and the struggle to deviate from one’s parental patterns?
- Hud Riva is seen grappling with his inherited identity and what it implies for his future. Being Mick’s son from an affair, he is anxious about becoming like his absent father and worried about his capability to be a good father. What’s your take on Hud’s internal conflict regarding his parental inheritance and his actions towards Ashley? Do you think it explores the concept of nature versus nurture in shaping a person’s character?
- June Riva’s character is marked by her enduring love for Mick, leading her to accept numerous betrayals and even sacrifice her own happiness. Despite being stuck on Mick, she exhibits unyielding love and care for her children, influencing them significantly even after her demise. How does June’s character illuminate the complexities of love, both romantic and maternal, and how does it shape the Riva children’s attitudes towards relationships and family?
- One of the key subplots in the book involves Kit’s process of self-discovery and acceptance of her sexuality, culminating in her coming out to Ricky. This subplot adds another layer to the diverse experiences and struggles of the Riva siblings, while also offering a sensitive exploration of queer identity. How does Kit’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance contribute to the overall narrative of the novel, and what insights does it provide into the theme of identity and sexuality within the context of personal growth and societal expectations?
- The theme of family and fame intertwines throughout the novel, especially with respect to Mick Riva, who epitomizes the allure and destructiveness of fame. He’s constantly torn between his craving for fame and attention and his obligations as a family man, ultimately choosing the former. Discuss how Mick’s struggle between family and fame highlights the sacrifices and consequences of choosing fame over family, and in what ways does his decision impact the lives of his children, particularly Nina and Jay?
- The ocean serves as a refuge for the Riva children, offering them a sanctuary from their turbulent home life. It’s not just a place to escape but also a setting for crucial emotional confrontations.
What’s your take on the way Reid uses the symbolism of the ocean to illustrate the internal struggles and redemptive moments of the characters?
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