Going Bicoastal

  • Review
By – December 11, 2023

We’ve all imag­ined at dif­fer­ent points in our lives what might have hap­pened had we made a dif­fer­ent choice. In her fun, thought­ful YA nov­el, Dahlia Adler takes this ques­tion one step fur­ther. The pro­tag­o­nist, Natalya Fox, must decide whether she wants to stay with her dad in NYC for the sum­mer or work an intern­ship at her mom’s mar­ket­ing firm in LA — even though she hasn’t seen her mom in ages and rarely speaks with her. Natalya ago­nizes over her deci­sion, won­der­ing what might hap­pen in either case.

Because Natalya is unable to choose, Adler con­jures up both out­comes. Chap­ters alter­nate between the two coasts, with a sky­line graph­ic under­neath each head­ing that lets the read­er know which set­ting they’re in. In the New York City sto­ry, Natalya tries to build a rela­tion­ship with her moth­er from a dis­tance and falls even hard­er for a girl she’s obsessed over for a while. In the Los Ange­les sto­ry, she awk­ward­ly works out her rela­tion­ship with her moth­er, fig­ures out what she wants to do with her life, and devel­ops a crush on a guy she thought she hated.

In both nar­ra­tives, Natalya rec­og­nizes her mother’s flaws, but she also begins to see her as a per­son and not just as her moth­er. She falls in love in both sto­ries, and she takes risks, more con­fi­dent than ever in her draw­ing and design skills and how they might trans­late into a career. Adler man­ages the dual arc deft­ly, mak­ing both halves feel whole.

While this is not a Jew­ish sto­ry” per se, Natalya’s Jew­ish­ness is an unde­ni­able part of her. Whether she’s hav­ing week­ly Shab­bat din­ners with her more reli­gious friend, or whether she’s explain­ing how she keeps kosher, Natalya makes it clear that Judaism plays an impor­tant role in her life.

Going Bicoastal is a fun sto­ry about falling in love, dis­cov­er­ing who you are and what you want to do, and adapt­ing to changes in the par­ent-child rela­tion­ship. But most of all, the nov­el is a reminder that no mat­ter what deci­sion we make, it’s up to us to make it work — and that some­times, things have a way of unfold­ing as they should.

Jaime Hern­don is a med­ical writer who also writes about par­ent­ing and pop cul­ture in her spare time. Her writ­ing can be seen on Kveller, Undark, Book Riot, and more. When she’s not work­ing or home­school­ing, she’s at work on an essay collection.

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