Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.
Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.
When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
Tell Me More: A Parent Trap-like plotline and figure skating? Being Sloane Jacobs seemed tailor-made for 13-year-old Angel’s interests, but I’m not sure I would have been as pleased with this story had it been written by anyone except Lauren Morrill. She captures the tenacity of both her main characters with ease, and still balances humour with the very real family issues that affect the Sloanes.
Initially, I was concerned that the story would focus on one Sloane, and the reader would only get to know Sloane #2 through her eyes. While not necessarily a bad thing, it would definitely shift the emotional attachment, and it wouldn’t be fair to the other girl’s character development. The dual perspectives really worked in the story’s favour this time, allowing the reader to live in both girls’ heads and understand their motivations. Granted, I was personally more interested in Sloane E’s family issues but I didn’t feel that Sloane D was a mystery. I did enjoy the fact that Sloane D was from Philadelphia (my hometown) and the camp was in Canada (where I live now).
As for the romance, it came second to the girls’ grasp on their identities and how that played into the switch. I liked both boys just fine, and they definitely made me smile and slightly swoon, but I didn’t fall very hard for either of them. I was less concerned with their flirting than I was in what it revealed in the Sloanes: their loneliness. Both girls are isolated in different ways, and having each other to take on that burden for just a little while eases something in them. The fact that Being Sloane Jacobs keeps to standard YA novel-length does work against it, in that the family issues that the girls are running away from aren’t completely fleshed out. There didn’t need to be a clean solution, but I definitely would have appreciated a more solid build-up.
The Final Say: Lauren Morrill brings her signature light-hearted writing style to another contemporary romance that will please readers of all ages. Being Sloane Jacobs is a novel worthy of 90s-style adoration, with Cutting Edge-esque drama and protagonists that make it so easy to be in their corner.
Lauren Elizabeth Morrill is many things, including, but not limited to, a writer, an educator, a badass roller derby skater, a former band nerd, an aggressive driver, and a die-hard Mac person. She also watches a lot of TV, eats a lot of junk food, and drinks a lot of Coke. It’s a wonder her brain and teeth haven’t rotted out of her head.