Debut novel candidly explores coming-of-age with meaningful discussions of sexuality, religion, mental health

“[Closer to Fine] will resonate for anyone who has ever struggled to find their place in the world” – Idit Klein, president and CEO of Keshet—for LGBTQ Equality in Jewish Life

PHILADELPHIA, PA –Debut novelist Jodi S. Rosenfeld revels in the humor that marks the new adult experience with this romantic and whip-smart coming-of-age tale. “Closer to Fine” (She Writes Press, May 25, 2021) is the story of Rachel Levine, a twenty-something Jewish, bisexual woman finding her adult footing in a world full of uncertainties and possibilities.

A student of clinical psychology, Rachel has much to learn, and many teachers along the way―a stubborn grandfather, a progressive rabbi, a worldly girlfriend, a wise supervisor, and an insightful therapist. In the end, however, it is her own anxiety that is the best teacher of all. As Rachel learns to embrace uncertainty and accept what she cannot control, she finds herself connecting more deeply with the people who matter most in her life.

“This book radiates goodness. It’s warm and smart, funny and brave. It has deep, particular knowledge of people, while at the same time embracing the great, wistful messiness of being human.”
—Leah Hager Cohen, author of Strangers and Cousins

“Closer to Fine”
Jodi S. Rosenfeld | May 25, 2021 | She Writes Press | Literary Fiction, New Adult
Paperback | ISBN: 978-1647420598 | $16.95

JODI S. ROSENFELD: Jodi Rosenfeld is a clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety and acceptance-based therapies. She is a graduate of Tufts University and the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (now William James College). She lives with her husband and two teenage children in the western suburbs of Philadelphia and plans to enter rabbinical school in the very near future. Closer to Fine is her first novel.

To learn more about her life and work, please visit:

In an interview, Jodi S. Rosenfeld can discuss:

  • The inspiration behind “Closer to Fine”
  • Why several unique milestones mark Rachel’s personal growth – finding romance, coming out, and learning from therapy
  • The importance of therapy, and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health discussions, particularly regarding anxiety and OCD
  • How identity is explored in the novel, touching on the complex relationship between Judaism and feminism
  • What she hopes readers will take away from the novel

An Interview with Jodi S. Rosenfeld

1. What inspired you to write “Closer to Fine”?

While it’s not strictly autobiographical, “Closer to Fine” is definitely inspired by my own experiences. Like Rachel, the protagonist, I too came out as bisexual and learned about feminist Judaism in college. I, too, went on to a graduate program in psychology. I struggled with a lot of the same issues she does. Like Rachel, I grew a great deal in my own therapy. I’m now almost 50, and looking back on that time, I realized I had a story to tell.

2. Often, coming-of-age novels focus on the teenage years. Yet, Rachel’s own coming of age takes place later, during what many refer to as the “new adult” years. Why did you choose to focus on personal growth at that age? Do you think one’s “coming of age” can occur at any age?

I suppose I think of coming-of-age as the transition from childhood to adulthood. While I certainly thought of myself as an adult in college (we called ourselves “women” not “girls”) I really didn’t experience the first challenges of adulthood until my mid-twenties. There is something that happens to women in our mid-twenties (at least this felt true to me in the 1990s) where every romantic relationship we enter is saddled with the unspoken question, “is this the one?” I think this is true in heterosexual and same-sex relationships, especially if a woman envisions herself having children one day. We want certainty; we want to know if our partner will stay forever. It is similar with our jobs at that age—we ask ourselves, “is this the right career for me? Am I a fraud? Can I be respected as a professional when I feel like a child inside?” There is a scene in “Closer to Fine” where Rachel gets together with some of her college friends and they talk about their experiences as young adults in the world. They are remembering how much easier it was in college to define and express identities. Rachel says, “I mean, if you were a vegetarian, you lived in the vegetarian house. If you were musical theater geeks like us, you hung out in the box office and your room was covered in show posters. It was just easier to say to the world, ‘This is who I am.’” I think that it’s after college that one begins to build a truly adult identity and sometimes struggle with how to be that person in the real world.

3. “Closer to Fine” supports meaningful discussions surrounding mental health and therapy, particularly in relation to anxiety and OCD. Do you still see a stigma surrounding mental health? Is fiction an area where we can work to improve this?

I think that there is absolutely still a stigma around seeking professional help for mental health issues. While that stigma is far less than it once was, it is still a significant reason why people don’t seek treatment. OCD and other anxiety disorders can be very serious but also can be treated. What better place to destigmatize therapy than in fiction?

4. “Closer to Fine” examines the intersection between the various aspects of Rachel’s identity, as a young, Jewish, bisexual woman. Can you speak to the importance of showcasing the intersection between her Jewish identity and her identity as a bi woman?

Rachel’s expression of her Jewish identity and her bisexuality both represent a generational shift in her family. She “does Judaism” and “does romantic love” differently than her parents and grandparents did, and this creates some challenges for her, especially living with her grandfather. For Zayde (Rachel’s grandfather) and for her mother, Judaism and romantic love are about adhering to tradition. In both arenas, Rachel is exploring new ground, and this leads to conflict as well as secret keeping.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from this novel?

Ultimately, “Closer to Fine” is a feel-good novel. I want people to come away appreciating the ways in which growth, while sometimes scary, is always worth it. I want readers to understand that being present with the uncertainties in our lives is hard work, but that it is work we do in relationship to others and that by supporting one another, we can truly experience openness to all of life’s surprises.