Book Review

Going Bicoastal By Dahlia Adler

Going Bicoastal

  • Author: Dahlia Adler
  • Genre: YA Romance
  • Publication Date: June 13, 2023
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: brief mention of prior self-harm

A queer Sliding Doors YA rom-com in which a girl must choose between summer in NYC with her dad (and the girl she’s always wanted) or LA with her estranged mom (and the guy she never saw coming).

In Dahlia Adler’s Going Bicoastal, there’s more than one path to happily ever after.

Natalya Fox has twenty-four hours to make the biggest choice of her life: stay home in NYC for the summer with her dad (and finally screw up the courage to talk to the girl she’s been crushing on), or spend it with her basically estranged mom in LA (knowing this is the best chance she has to fix their relationship, if she even wants to.) (Does she want to?)

How’s a girl supposed to choose?

She can’t, and so both summers play out in alternating timelines – one in which Natalya explores the city, tries to repair things with her mom, works on figuring out her future, and goes for the girl she’s always wanted. And one in which Natalya explores the city, tries to repair things with her mom, works on figuring out her future, and goes for the guy she never saw coming.

I’m at the point with Dahlia Adler books where I don’t even need to read the blurb to know I want the book, and it’s never been more clear than with this book. All I needed to see was bisexual and I wanted to read it. The fact that it had Jewish representation only made it more appealing. But … when I started reading, I was surprised by the alternating timelines, because I seriously didn’t bother to read the blurb.

Natalya is an awesome character. She’s an only child, and in the summer before her junior year, she’s given the choice to stay in NYC for the summer with her dad or head across the country to spend her summer in LA, where her mom lives. But each of these options comes with pros and cons: staying in NYC means she’s doing what’s easy and comfortable, spending the summer with her big group of friends and the parent she’s closest with, and potentially getting to know the mysterious redhead she’s been crushing on for a while. But getting out of her comfort zone and spending the summer in LA means months with her mother, with whom her relationship is very distant, all to secure an internship she knows would look good on her resume but she isn’t sure she really wants. 

The story allows both scenarios to play out, making this the ultimate bisexual dream. I really enjoyed seeing how both experiences challenged Natalya, allowing her to grow and change. At 17, she’s struggling with the path her life should take, especially when (on both coasts), she’s surrounded by people who know exactly what they want to do, and she’s kind of foundering. As she forges a path in each scenario, she realizes more about herself and discovers a new path forward for herself, but what was intriguing was not only the differences between how things go on each coast, but what stays the same in each scenario.

Perhaps my favorite part of this story was the proud Jewish representation in it. Every Jewish family practices differently, and this is never more clear than in this book. Natalya and her father make sure to have Shabbat dinner every Friday night, and to avoid using electronics afterwards, instead spending the night reading on the couch together. Their neighbors are Orthodox, and are much more observant than Natalya and her father, but Natalya does keep kosher, which gets brought up more than once in the story. When she goes to LA, her mother is more of a secular Jew and doesn’t have Shabbat dinner or practice much of anything. 

I especially loved the fact that not only isn’t there any negative pushback on the Jewish representation, or any antisemitism incorporated into the story, but there are also a number of openly LGBTQ and non-binary characters in the story, and there’s nothing harmful regarding that either. None of the characters experience homophobia, transphobia, or anything negative, and it was beautiful to see a book with so few triggers. There is mention of divorce and a brief mention of prior self-harm, but overall this was a sweet, fluffy romance that was beautiful. My only complaint is that it doesn’t come with any samples of the food mentioned in it, because now I’m starving!

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