I watched Sliding Doors as a kid and was enthralled by the idea of watching a life play out in two different ways based on branching out from a single event. I suppose it was my introduction to the concept of parallel universes. So when I heard about the premise of Going Bicoastal, I had to pick it up: a Sliding Doors-style story with a bisexual main character, written by the one and only Dahlia Adler?? What a gift.
And, of course, in Dahlia Adler’s hands, this was a joy to read. It follows Natalya as she has to choose between spending the summer with her father in NYC as usual, or trying to reconnect with her mother in LA. In each chapter, we alternate between her life if she chose NYC and if she chose LA. It sounds like it could be jarring or awkward, but the structure is not only a fun hook, but actually strengthens the story—it feels like it couldn’t have been told any other way.
In my The Best Sapphic Books of 2023 (So Far), I said this was the “most bisexually structured book I’ve ever read.” It is fun to have a bisexual book refuse to make a binary choice. But it also unexpectedly soothed my anxious overthinker brain. This choice does change Natalya’s life, but neither option is wrong. Whichever decision she makes, she’ll be okay in the end. Both these stories are romances, so they both are going to have a happy ending.
The romances play out pretty differently: in NYC, she gets to know a girl she’s had a crush on from afar for a long time, and they connect over music. They click instantly. In LA, she initially clashes with a guy she interning with, but he slowly opens up, and they begin to fall for each other over tacos—and worry about what happens when the summer ends and she goes back to New York. This story is just as much about Natalya figuring herself out, though, and while the settings and love interests diverge, there are parallels in how these different experience help her to uncover her talents and plan a future for herself, further underscoring that there are multiple paths leading to a positive future for her.
I love how this story feels so seamless, though it must have taken a ton of work to make a concept like this feel effortless. This is one of my favourite reads of the year.