Sometimes you read a book at just the right time in your life, and this was such a book. I loved this story of the Riva family- Nina, the responsible oldest child, Jay and Hud the inseparable surfing brothers, Kit the precocious youngest child, their naive and long-suffering mother June, and the famous cad of a father Mick. The story begins in Malibu in 1983 as the four siblings are preparing for their annual beach bash and then alternates chapters that go back to 1956 when June and Mick first met, eventually working their way forward chronologically until 1983 again. I was a few chapters in before I realized that Mick was in author Reid’s previous books- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (the third husband who is a Frank Sinatra-esque singer) and has a small cameo in Daisy Jones and The Six. This is when it became obvious to the reading public that Reid was linking all her recent books together in one universe.
The book visits all the siblings to learn more about their lives but Nina gets the lion’s share of the narrative, as she should because it is through her sheer tenacity that the siblings remained together after their mother’s death and Mick’s abandonment. Nina gives and gives, always thinking of others, and takes up so much responsibility when others shirk their duty. I adored how they all loved one another, and even when Jay and Hud have a blowout, they get through it and have each other’s backs. I was nervous throughout the decadent party that got out of hand, as I was invested in all their lives, and was rooting for them all to have the happy endings they deserved. As I also have a caretaker role in my extended family, Nina’s hard-won redemption was just what I needed to read. Reid really captures characters’ voices and capably juggles large casts. Her books have such an accurate sense of time and place, so I eagerly look forward to her next novel!