South Shore Breaker

High praise for Taylor Jenkins’ novel

- THEKLA ALTMANN Thekla Altmann is the managing branch assistant at the Trenton Public Library.

Ever since stumbling across “Daisy Jones & The Six” a year ago or so, I have made an effort to read everything Taylor Jenkins has ever written - as I tend to do when I’m obsessing about a newly discovered author.

While I haven’t loved every book as much as Daisy Jones, here’s one that I loved even more.

“Malibu Rising” is both family epic and pop culture history. It’s about trash and glamour, poverty and luxury, love and abandonmen­t. It’s both heartbreak and feelgood. It’s very feelgood.

It questions deeply what passes for respect and loyalty, and again, it is about family, all about family, screwed up as it is. You believe they are all real, those people. You believe the pop and movie stars at the Malibu house party are real, and you want to Google Nina Riva to see the famous surfer model for yourself, and you want her to be your sister, too. Just with Daisy Jones, I had a little trouble accepting that these people are made up. All of them.

Few writers have such a gift for breathing so much life into characters. Few characters paint the landscape so vividly you have to blink and remind yourself that you are, indeed, in Nova Scotia. Not California. No, really. But mostly - and this is why I’m fangirling just a little bit here - it is a rare talent to braid a plot so intricatel­y that you can’t help but marvel at the elegant structure. Each jump in the timeline moves another gem into focus, and even though we all know where the story is going from the beginning - the house party that set most of Malibu on fire - we release a breath we didn’t know we were holding when it is finally revealed how it happens. Aaaah, of course ...

This is an absolutely beautiful book, in every sense. Highest recommenda­tion, especially for the audiobook version. Only warning: it might make you want to take up surfing.

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