Review: Going Bicoastal

Going Bicoastal

by Dahlia Adler

Wednesday Books (imprint of Macmillan), 2023

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Emily Roth

Buy at

The summer before her senior year of high school, Natalya has a choice to make. She can stay with her dad in Manhattan, find a part time job, and maybe flirt with the Redhead she’s been running into all over town. Or, she can move to LA for the summer to live with her estranged mom, accept an internship at her mom’s marketing firm, and have an entirely new adventure. 

In a clever stylistic choice, Going Bicoastal splits off into two alternate realities, showing how both of Natalya’s possible choices would play out. 

In New York, Natalya does flirt with the Redhead, whose real name turns out to be Elly, leading to a very sweet romance. Natalya also discovers that she has a talent for working with children and reconnects with her mom through a two-person book club. In California, Natalya discovers a passion for graphic design and has an enemies-to-lovers romance with her mysterious co-intern Adam (there’s only one desk!). In the end, neither choice is necessarily the correct one, and we see Natalya learning and making mistakes in both timelines. This cute, hopeful, and affirming story shows that maybe everyone has more than one bashert, and that there could be many paths to happily-ever-after. 

Throughout the novel, queer representation feels authentic and, refreshingly, never serves as a source of conflict. At the beginning of the novel, Natalya is already out as bisexual to her friends and family, and as the story goes on, a number of trans and nonbinary secondary characters are introduced. In the LA storyline, even though Natalya's love interest is male, her bisexuality still plays a role in the narrative and comes up naturally in dialogue multiple times.

Judaism plays a critical role in Going Bicoastal. Both of Natalya’s parents are Jewish, as are some of her friends, and a spectrum of denominations and cultural practices are represented and woven into the story naturally. The information provided will feel realistic to Jewish readers, and should be accessible and educational to non-Jewish readers.

In both timelines, Shabbat dinner serves as a touchstone for Natalya and her parents, as well as an opportunity for growth and connection. In NYC, Natalya and her dad have Shabbat dinner every week, but neither of them can cook, so Natalya enlists her Modern Orthodox friend Adira to help her learn. The differences between Adira’s observations of Shabbat and Natalya’s are explained naturally within the story. Meanwhile, in California, Natalya convinces her mom to try observing Shabbat again with the help of her love interest Adam, who is not Jewish but is passionate about cooking. Natalya also keeps kosher, which is mentioned periodically but doesn’t create conflict, and Adam is eager to adjust his cooking accordingly. 

I would highly recommend Going Bicoastal to all teen readers, especially fans of romantic comedies and anyone who has ever wondered where a different choice might take them.

Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here!

Reviewer Emily Roth (she/her/hers) is a youth services librarian, avid reader, and lifelong Midwesterner. Her short fiction has been published by The Masters Review, Reflex Fiction, Exposition Review, and others. She lives in Chicago with her rescue dog, Obie.


Post a Comment