Better Than Malibu Rising. I read and reviewed Mailbu Rising as an ARC, back before it came out. In that review, I noted that while it was a good story overall, I knew of many others that were at least as good – and would likely never get anywhere *near* the hype.
Here, despite being published by an Amazon imprint and thus having a pretty solid team behind even it… we have just such a book that is *better* than Malibu Rising… and yet isn’t getting anywhere near the hype, even though it absolutely should.
Even from the opening of the tale, before you even get to a word of Weinstein’s own alternate history of Hey There Delilah, the fact that she/ someone on her team was able to get Tom Higgenson from the Plain White T’s to write a foreword for this tale is freaking awesome.
Then, we get into the tale. And what a tale it is. I’ve read several of its type over the years, of coming of age, of finding yourself, of mysterious zeitgeist happenings, of journalists looking for their big break and landing on a secret they decide to try to find the truth of, of star crossed lovers and what comes of them, of famous rockers that famously either disappear or crash and burn or crash and burn and then disappear.
And yet… Weinstein manages to make this tale her own unique blend of all of the above, and a love song to the entire music industry and the songs that we all believe were written about specific people to boot. Choosing to lead into every chapter with a song referencing someone specific, then discussing so very many different artists and songs through the narrative – and even having cameos by various artists – was a great touch.
Including a condo in Miami was an interesting touch, and perhaps a nod to her own real-life tragedy as her family knew some of the victims of the 2021 Surfside Condos collapse – though this is pure speculation (about the nod) on my part. (Those who follow her on social media know she did in fact know some of those victims.)
Weinstein almost always brings her own Jewish faith into her tales as well, and this is no different – and yet, like the best Christian writers I’ve encountered over the years, she always does it seamlessly and without preaching, just bakes it right into the overall tale she is telling and uses it to even *enhance* the story she is telling.
The addition of a young character who barely speaks English when we first meet him is also quite relevant to where we originally encounter him – Miami, where thanks to the large Hispanic population, this is a particular character type that much more commonly gets overlooked – particularly in these types of tales.
And then there are the actual relationships here, and where the true magic and heartbreak of this story lies. The daughter who may not know as much about her parents or why they split as she thinks she does. The lover who pushes people away because she thinks she is unworthy of love. The soulmates forced into separation. The loving parent who never stopped wanting the best for their kid – even when the kid actively rejected them. So many others, and it all comes crashing together in this maniacal way that in less deft hands and with a less skilled storyteller could have been an absolute mess, but instead Weinstein pulls off masterfully in ways that will have you both breathless and bawling.
Truly an excellent work, and very much recommended.