Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Tribes of Palos Verdes: A Novel” as Want to Read:
The Tribes of Palos Verdes: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Tribes of Palos Verdes: A Novel

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  893 ratings  ·  104 reviews
In The Tribes of Palos Verdes  by Joy Nicholson, Medina Mason is a defiant, awkward newcomer to the affluent beach community of Palos Verdes, California. As her parents' marriage disintegrates and her beloved brother falls prey to the temptations of drugs and the lunacy of their mother, Medina surfs to survive, finding a bitter solace in the rough comfort of the waves. Thi ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1997)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Tribes of Palos Verdes, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mr O'Neil Yes and no. It's a great book and would be very relevant to the age group. There is explicit drug use and some sex so just proceed with caution.…moreYes and no. It's a great book and would be very relevant to the age group. There is explicit drug use and some sex so just proceed with caution.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  893 ratings  ·  104 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Tribes of Palos Verdes: A Novel
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“Surfers live by the rules of the wind and moon, because the wind controls how big the waves are, while the moon pulls the tide back and forth like a puppet on a string.”

This might have possibly earned its fifth star for being a “right place at the right time” kind of read, but I can’t imagine a universe where it would have scored less than four from me. If you know me (and Mitchell), you are aware that we enjoy a little . . .
Alisha Marie
If you look at cover of the hardcover version of The Tribes of Palos Verdes you would probably think that it's about a girl who surfs with guys. Yes, there are guys in this book and yes, the main character, Medina, does surf, it goes much more deeper than that. Medina uses surfing as an outlet to escape the pain she feels and the horror of her home life.

Throughout the book, you see Medina painfully coming of age while dealing with drugs, sex, and being the only female surfer in her town. The dys
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up from a free shelf in a doctor's office. From the cover, and the jacket description, it seemed like it would be an easy beach read. How pleasantly surprised i was to discover a beautiful coming of age novel to rival the likes of 'the outsiders' or 'the heart is a lonely hunter.' That is to say, quality, lasting and moving.

The protagonist uses surfing as a coping mechanism for her tumultuous surroundings, and i had just taken my first surfing lesson when i read this book. You cou
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One evening I was drawn to a quiet character driven movie with Jennifer Garner and Cody Fern. As with more recurring frequency, the films I enjoy most turn out to be based on novels. This is one. The book flows more smoothly and in chronological order. Set in the wealthy beach community of Palos Verdes California; the story is told though the young female Medina Mason. At times gawky, others displaying a brave defiance; she thrives. He brother however falls to the temptations of drugs. It's a po ...more
Shannon Valdes
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised to read some of the negative reviews on here because although it was a terribly sad book, I believe it was very beautifully written. "The water under my house shimmered like blood and glitter." I already want to read this book again. ...more
Sep 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, mg-ya
I have been recommending this to a lot of people lately, so I decided to give it another read to make sure it merits my praise. I have demoted it a star and now feel too hesitant to actually RECOMMEND it to anyone. It is well written, to be sure, but it is hardly tame in its presentation of this girl's sexual life.

An insightful book reflecting some interesting struggles that teen girls are facing, especially in the materialistic climate of coastal Southern California. The heroine of this novel,
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Medina Mason is a teenager living in the well-to-do neighborhood of Palos Verdes. Her father is a heart surgeon to the stars in Beverly Hills and her mother is a former model. She has a twin brother named Jim who is her best friend. They all live in a mansion that sits close to the shore in the Lunada Bay area but despite living a privileged life, things aren’t going so well for Medina. She has a hard time being accepted by her peers, her relationship with her mother is strained and her parents ...more
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
After watching the movie yesterday I thought to myself there must be a book... a memoir, and I was right there is a book! The movie was so sad and heartbreaking and so accurate and true in describing the falling family dynamic after and during a divorce and it's effect on the couple and on the children, and how much children suffer during the ordeal and sometimes they have to pull the family together and act like grownups. It's so sad.

Helena Miller
I received this from a student. Female surfer--what's not to love!?!?!

Now that I've finished it, this is actually a much darker novel than I expected when I heard the protagonist was a female surfer. A theme of the book, sadly, is that a person cannot save anyone but themselves, no matter how much they may love or want to save another. The protagonist values her independence, and as a result she is willing to save herself even if the choices she makes are not popular with her family, her communi
A depressing coming-of-age story about a young girl who is an outlier in her affluent LA suburb, and her efforts to survive when her family melts down around her. I'll add that Palos Verdes is my home town, and the editor of this book really should have hired a fact-checker. I found it hard to believe the author had actually lived there bc there were so many errors in geography etc. For me, this was highly distracting from the storyline, which was actually quite good. ...more
Scott Duffin
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm looking forward to reading the book. I grew up in Palos Verdes and actually knew some of people which this book is based on. ...more
Jan 12, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exhilarating and excruciating. Narrator Medina (twin of Jim) pushes through the boys club with her brother's help to become an athletic surfer. The author brings to life all of the space surrounding the characters and the flow of energy--both invigorating and corrupting. Young adult surfing culture is juxtaposed with the twins' dueling, divorcing parents who spawn alienation, enmeshment, rejection, and isolation in their children. To be honest, I found myself needing emotional breaks when readin ...more
Megan Mcewen
Not as trashy as I was hoping it would be, but not as deep as she probably hoped it would be.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Is it possible to give a book 0 stars? I honestly wish I had never read this stupid book. It was such a time-waster, all of the characters were so freaking dumb and I hated all of them, every single one. Not any of them had any redeeming qualities. I didn't get inside the heads of any of the characters, I feel like their feelings weren't described, only the outside of them. Or if they were I just couldn't relate because the story was just so crazy. I can't understand why (view spoiler) ...more
Jun 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: very-favorites
I remember that summer by this book...vicariously living the life of a surfer girl.
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Tribes of Palos Verdes, screenplay by Karen Croner, based on book by Joy Nicholson

The Tribes of Palos Verdes is an entertaining motion picture, although the viewers and the critics are right when they do not rate this offering very highly, for most of the story is familiar and it seems little- if anything- is new in this narrative.

The Masons move from- was it Minnesota?- to the beautiful, sunny, resplendent, splendid, radiant, luminous Palos Verdes, that seems as close as a land can get to a
Jun 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel “the Tribes of Palos Verdes”, written by Joy Nicholson, published in 1997, deals with the difficulties of growing up in an unstable family and trying to fit in in a new environment.
The Masons move from Michigan to an exclusive coastal town in California. Phil, the father, hopes to improve his career as a cardiologist there. The mother Sandy, an ex-model, is mentally unstable and a pathological overeater. The 14-year old twins Medina and Jim are very close but deal with the new situatio
Anna Elena
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Shit! I am! Blown away!

Okay. So. At first I found it hard to separate the movie from the book, bc I watched the movie not long ago and loved it so much I ordered the book that night. But after a while the book really took me in and the only thing that stuck with me were the actors, which was fine.

In the first few pages, I wasn’t a fan of the structure. It felt choppy and like a weird stream of consciousness, like a scrapbook of random thoughts and experiences. But later I really came to lo
Erica Lyn Burden
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
2.5 stars. I've put off writing a review about this, because I like literally didn't feel anything while reading it lol. Usually I either really like a book or I have reasons why I didn't like it, but I couldn't have felt either of those emotions any less than I did!

I wanted to really like this book, because it was one of the first books I ever checked out from the new library I am working at. Also, I had never even heard of it before browsing the shelf and being intrigued by it's cover. Then I
Shae Petersen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
It was a quick read, and something I picked up on a whim, but also because the audiobook was read by Jorjeana Marie, my absolute favorite narrator for audiobooks. Coming of age story that is emotional, sweet, but also sometimes painful to listen, in the end I loved the character, her strength and determination to do what she loves.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After 3 attempts, I finally got through the book. Sorry I wasted the time. Unlikeable characters, glossing over of anything that could be of import, inconsistent writing, and an overall lack of commitment to a theme or idea. There is one l word that pops into mind each time I think of the book: shallow. Shallow in all aspects and definitions.
I loved the writing. It was very fun to listen to. I don't know why I waited so long to hear it! It was awesome. The family was very entertaining. She had weird and funny descriptions like the main character had 'long blonde hair that hung down like a plastic sheet' and she had a flat chest. Pretty hilarious!! :D ...more
Fernanda Méndez
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I watched the movie first and I cried. But once I read this, It was even more heartbreaking. Jim's development is one of the most important things I've seen during this book and I think the author gets to make the reader feel the constant pain that's keeping the family in that moment. I liked it a lot. ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been trying to read out of my comfort zone out of YA category. But this book caught my eye and it’s written by parts not by chapters which is clever. It was an incredible book, there were times I wanted to throttle Mrs. Mason and a few of the other characters. It was RAW throughout the entire novel. I was crying by the end.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grim view of life and death in Southern California

Coming of age tale of outsider adolescence against the backdrop of fiercely territorial Palisades Verdes surf spots. Written in a clean and honest manner, lacks pretension.
This book was a very fast read for me. I liked how I could relate to some parts of the book since I used to live in California. I didn't really like though how drugs were talked about for a good portion of the story. ...more
Wendy Ledger
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I lived in Palos Verdes when I was a teenager, so I was intrigued to read this book. I thought the writing was beautiful, and I was surprised by the intensity of the story. (This is not a bad thing; I just wasn't expecting it.) I thought the surfing moments felt real and vivid. ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book seems like a mainly young adult book. At first that didn’t make me want to read it, but this book is worth it. I really enjoyed the ending. I really appreciated the surprising character development in Jim. With this book bring just around 200 pages, it’s a cool short read.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Sweet Surrender (Sweet, #1)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Black & White Classics, Vol. 2
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Black & White Classics, Vol. 1
  • Under the Tulip Tree
  • Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad!: How to Get (Both of You) Through the Next 9 Months
  • Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization
  • The Artist's Way Workbook
  • Into the Gray Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death
  • The Wonder Garden
  • Not Every Princess
  • Kit (Chicago Blaze, #8)
  • A Desirable Residence
  • X-Factor, Vol. 1: The Longest Night
  • X-Factor, Vol. 2: Life and Death Matters
  • Enemy Dearest
  • Braised Pork
  • How to Pronounce Knife
  • Beast Comes Home (Devil's Blaze MC #7)
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
100 likes · 17 comments
“He tells me to go away, but I don't think love is anything like water. It doesn't slip off that easily.” 7 likes
“Money fixes everything, even nature, if there is enough of it.” 2 likes
More quotes…