Why Novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid is Special


Article by Stella Bleiweis, Writer

Reading Time: 4 minutes

On March 3rd, the Prime Video TV series Daisy Jones and the Six will come out, starring Riley Keough, Sam Claflin (Hunger Games), and Camila Morrone. This TV series has garnered much attention and was even featured in the New York Times. In further evidence of its popularity, Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, will produce the show. 

Daisy Jones and the Six is based on a book of the same name by Taylor Jenkins Reid, who is quickly becoming a household name in the world of fiction. Out of her eight books, four have gotten on the New York Times Best Seller list. These include the books The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones and the Six, Malibu Rising, and Carrie Soto is Back. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has remained in the top 10 of the New York Times Best Seller list for over 84 weeks. Four of her books are also being made into screen adaptations. The trailers for her other popular books, Daisy Jones and the Six (receiving 7.5 million views on YouTube) and One True Loves were also released a couple of weeks ago. One True Loves is set to spotlight Phillipa Soo (Hamilton), Simu Liu (Shang-Chi), and Luke Bracey. Reid’s popularity has been further boosted by social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. 

While her popularity is certainly apparent, her clever writing style of playing with different forms of media make her books unique. Whether switching from past to present, going from one perspective to the next, or using third-person or first-person narration, Reid certainly knows how to make use of postmodern literary techniques. In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017), Reid not only uses two perspectives from different time periods, but also uses other mediums in her novel, such as fictional newspaper articles, adding to the realism of the book. Her use of non-traditional mediums also highlight an important theme of the novel; the often disrespectful way the media treats women. 

In Daisy Jones and the Six (2019), Reid pivots completely from the traditional format of a novel, creating an oral history. The novel might appear like a play at first, but it is really more like a documentary, featuring each character talking to an interviewer about their past experiences. When you pick up the book, you might begin to hear the characters’ voices as though a movie is playing right in front of you. This not only opens up the varying perspectives, but also provides great insight into the idea that one event can be manipulated to be completely different in the eyes of different people. The book certainly takes the technique of an unreliable narrator to a new level. 

Malibu Rising was published in 2021, and readers were yet again captivated by Reid’s writing style. Her third-person narration allows for different stories to be told in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Reid enhances character personalities and experiences by switching from the past to the time period the book was set in, 1983. Her most recent book, Carrie Soto is Back, published in the summer of 2022, uses similar elements to Evelyn Hugo. It switches from the past to the present of the book (1994), as well using newspaper articles once again. The novel introduces a new medium in the world of Taylor Jenkins Reid: talk show transcripts. As the decades change, Reid understands the importance of staying with the times, thus changing the forms of media used.

This brings up another aspect of why Reid is so popular: her ability to engross a reader in different time periods. From the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, all the way up to present day, Reid illustrates each decade of modern and contemporary periods. She makes sure to include historically accurate information and pop-culture references. For example, Malibu Rising, which is set in the 1980s, mentions the popular Prince song 1999, which came out in 1985. Daisy Jones takes time to establish the rock-and-roll scene in the 1970s by reviewing musical influences including the Beatles. Not only does Reid immerse the readers into the time period, but she creates new and timely details. In Evelyn Hugo, movies and plots are thoroughly explained, Daisy Jones contains pages of lyrics, Carrie Soto features intense details of a tennis match, all so the audience will question whether she is writing fiction at all. Reading the books, I had to Google multiple times whether these characters were actually real. She proves again and again that world building isn’t just a task for fantasy novelists, but can be applied to any genre including historical fiction, mystery, and romance.

Arguably the most important part of her stories, Reid’s characters are relatable, complex, and flawed. Reid includes women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community at the forefront of her plots to ensure that everyone can find themselves in these characters. Personally, I found Carrie Soto, as a character and a book, to be very relatable. As a competitive, confident, person who cares for her family, I felt understood, and I felt such a strong connection to the characters and plot. Through these relatable characters, Reid allows for an emotional connection to her work. This is so effective that I haven’t been able to get through even one of her books without crying.

For anyone wanting to read Taylor Jenkins Reid books, be warned. Once you read one, you will be craving another, especially knowing that many of her books are connected. From Carrie Soto appearing in Malibu Rising, to a character from Evelyn Hugo dropping into a chapter of Daisy Jones, Reid creates an intricately woven multiverse. So for anyone wanting to check out a new book, or wanting to see innovation in literature, look no further than Taylor Jenkins Reid.