When scrolling through TikTok, you might find your For You feed infiltrated by a few of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s most acclaimed books: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017), Daisy Jones & The Six (2019), and Malibu Rising (2021). You might be asking yourself, are these books worth the hype? Perhaps you’ve been disappointed by BookTok, the community of reviews, before… 

I’m here to set the story straight. Reid’s books–or at least these three, as I haven’t yet read her other ones–are absolutely worth the hype. Here’s why.

Reid has a very distinctive style. Though each of her books are very different in content and narration, they each have an emphasis on setting and world-building. Usually, I find contemporary books lack this detail–usually, only fantasy and science fiction novels make the effort to establish other worlds. Somehow, though, Reid transports you to another place with each book, no matter how remote that place is from your own circumstances. Everything just feels so real.

In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I found myself googling the celebrity characters to read more about them, as if they were real people with social media pages and tabloid articles written about them, even though I knew they were fictional. Daisy Jones & The Six chronicles the life of a band, and I so badly wanted to listen to their album on Apple Music. While immersed in Malibu Rising, I could see, smell, and feel Malibu like I was there.

Of course, Reid executes this sense of reality with impeccable writing. She conveys so much in such a small number of words and links her sentences together beautifully. Her writing makes for very quick reads, as her books have that elusive page-turning quality. 

And her lines, man! Whenever I finish a Reid book, I come out with a rather long list of quotes. It sounds incredibly corny, but Ried’s words just itch something in my brain. The line, “Everybody wants somebody to hold up the right mirror,” (201) from Daisy Jones & The Six, or this beauty from Malibu Rising, especially stand out:

“Nina suddenly had a picture in her head. It was as if June had given her a box—as if every parent gives their children a box—full of the things they carried […] But it was not, Nina saw just then, her job to carry the full box. Her job was to sort through the box. To decide what to keep, and to put the rest down. She had to choose what, of the things she inherited from the people who came before her, she wanted to bring forward. And what, of the past, she wanted to leave behind” (357).

I want to paint that quote in cursive lettering on my wall. 

Anyway, after that ramble-filled introduction, I thought I’d talk about each of these three novels individually. Perhaps I’ll even rank them, because that can be helpful for analysis, and for determining which novel you should read first. Plus, it’s fun.

 

Daisy Jones & The Six Cover

Daisy Jones & The Six (2019)

Don’t be fooled by the fact that I’ve ranked this one last–Daisy Jones & The Six is still an incredible, five star novel and one of my 

favourite books of 2019. Daisy Jones follows the rise and break-up of a 1970s rock band, led by beauty icon Daisy. 

This one flies by especially quickly, as it’s written in an interview style. Everything is quasi-dialogue. There’s no description nor exposition in the book and, somehow, Reid packs enough in between the lines to transport you to the era the book describes. I felt like I was in the 70s, listening to this band’s music. Truly, this book is like Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), but better.

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Cover

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the first Reid book I read. It’s also, I think, the best title of the three. Like, come on, seven husbands? Are you not intrigued?

This novel tells the stories of two women simultaneously–Evelyn Hugo, a Marilyn Monroe-esque, glamorous, Hollywood movie icon, and Monique, a career-stagnant, average, freshly dumped reporter–as Evelyn dictates her life story to Monique, who turns it into a book. Both end up teaching the other lessons about themselves and the world, and it’s lovely to watch both characters develop.

Of course, Reid does an incredible job with the setting of old Hollywood. Very different from the 70s, obviously, but she transports you there just the same. There’s also lots of good stuff in there about womanhood, relationships, and sexuality. All in all, I’ve never read anything quite like Evelyn Hugo. It is truly unique and so, so wonderful. 

 

Malibu Rising Cover

Malibu Rising (2021)

I read Malibu Rising this summer and it absolutely destroyed me. It blew anything else I read this year out of the water (Get it? Water? Malibu?). 

Malibu Rising has perhaps the most intriguing synopsis of all: four famous siblings throw an annual epic party in 1983 Malibu, and, by the end of the night, the house is up in flames. That’s the thing about Reid’s work. She pulls you in with her crazy plots and settings, but keeps you with her writing and her characters. 

Malibu Rising is supposed to be about this party, but it isn’t really about that at all: it’s about the family that throws it. It’s about their lives, their struggles, and their journey to let go. I felt like I knew this family—I cried when they cried and I wanted to give them all a hug at the end. 

Perhaps this one is my favourite of the bunch simply because it caters to many of my loves: California, sibling stories, and one-day timelines. In any case, it’s a must-read for anyone looking for an intriguing read that pulls at your heartstrings.

 

Regardless of my silly rankings, all three of these books are five stars–some of the easiest five stars I’ve ever starred, in fact. Please read them, okay? Please. Thanks. 

HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: Laura Edelbacher

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