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Review: Being Sloane Jacobs

January 16, 2014

Title: Being Sloane Jacobs
Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte
Pub Date: January 7, 2014
Format: eGalley

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.—via Goodreads

Hockey! Figure skating! Montreal!

Being Sloane Jacobs is a book with a surprising amount of emotional depth. With the premise that two girls, both named Sloane Jacobs and look enough alike, arrive in Montreal for summer intensives in their respective winter sports of choice—Sloane Emily, figure skating; Sloane Devon, hockey—meet in a hotel lobby, and plan to switch places for the summer, it’s easy to get caught up in the various hijinks and awkward moments that ensue. Think It Takes Two and The Parent Trap—cute, fun movies full of identity capers. But what I really enjoyed about Being Sloane Jacobs is that author Lauren Morrill provided a lot more than two girls playing with the system. The emotional depth she provided to each Sloane and the reasons why they both are willing to spend their summers training for a winter sport they don’t play is what really makes this story shine.
I do tend to be more on the girly side (not to mention my fervent love for figure skating), and was immediately drawn to Sloane Emily’s story of a seemingly perfect posh upbringing and the chip on her shoulder because of it. But I have to say that I really enjoyed Sloane Devon’s story as well. As a rough-and-tumble hockey player from a not-great neighborhood in Philly and with an alcoholic mother in rehab, I really felt for Sloane Devon and, though I did not understand her willingness to spend a summer figure skating as much as I understood Sloane Emily’s to play hockey, loved her journey through the book.

Though I did enjoy this book, I don’t necessarily love the premise and construct—I find it too hard to suspend my belief that something like this could actually, really happen successfully. I know that it makes sense theoretically—you have the same name, you look alike, you’re far away from your family and friends—but there’s something about the whole thing that makes me feel like no one would ever really get away with it, especially when the girls at the center of the story are extremely competitive athletes who excel in their fields.

Nevertheless, Being Sloane Jacobs is a really fun, cute story that packs an emotional punch and doesn’t always give in to the conventions of the premise, which makes me a happy reader. (Hooray eschewing conventions!) As we all gear up to cheer on our respective national teams during Sochi (WINTER OLYMPICS ARE THE BEST OLYMPICS), this is the perfect read to pick up!

Being Sloane Jacobs

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