A compulsively readable story about the bonds between family members and the power of breaking free.

MALIBU RISING

In the early 1980s, four Malibu surfer siblings throw a raging party that forces them to confront their pasts in this new novel from the author of Daisy Jones & the Six (2019).

The Riva siblings didn’t have an easy childhood. Their father was a famous singer who came and went whenever he wanted, finally leaving for good. Their mother was an alcoholic, leaving her oldest daughter, Nina, to take on the bulk of the parenting. Nina ends up becoming a surf model to earn enough money to take care of her siblings: Jay, who becomes a pro surfer, Hud, who becomes a surf photographer, and the youngest, Kit, who hopes to follow in their surfing footsteps. Their rocky childhood led them to become extremely close as adults, and no tradition means more to them than the annual Riva party, held at Nina’s beach house. It’s typically raucous and full of celebrities behaving badly, but the real drama this time ends up coming from the secrets the Rivas are keeping from each other. Reid alternates between the siblings’ current-day party preparations and the story of their past: how their parents, Mick and June, met in the 1950s, fell in love, and had a tumultuous relationship. By the time the end of the party rolls around, the siblings each realize the many ways their pasts continue to affect their futures. Reid’s descriptions of Malibu are so evocative that readers will swear they feel the sea breeze on their faces or the grit of the sand between their toes. The Rivas have a believable sibling dynamic, and the family members are complex and delightfully flawed (especially Mick, whose bad decisions reverberate throughout the novel).

A compulsively readable story about the bonds between family members and the power of breaking free.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9865-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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