REVIEW: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Welcome to the “Being Sloane Jacobs” Blog Blitz!!!! HOORAY!!!!

From Goodreads:

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 978-0-385-74179-8does 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.

“Being Sloane Jacobs” is a funny, cute and original take on the common parent trap-like plot construct. It’s another story told from two different views: the two Sloanes, one a tough and gritty hockey player, the other an equally tough, though perhaps less expressive, figure skater.

When they are sent off to their respective camps, life seems bleak. But when they literally run into each other, they see an opportunity and go for it.

“Being Sloane Jacobs,” simply put, is a novel about discovery. When they decide to take this risk together, everything changes. They learn to become independent of their families. They learn what it means to be a fierce friend. They learn the weight (but not burden) of being accountable for the feelings of others. And they learn how to be brave and confident and to stand up for themselves.

This novel has the romance and the family drama and the friendship, but that’s not why I like it so much. I liked it for the courage that it inspired. It takes a lot to leave everything you know for a new adventure, and that’s what the Sloanes did. Immersing themselves in a completely new environment takes them out of their elements and forces them to adapt. There’s a strength in making one’s own choices when everyone and everything seems to be against you. This is a strength that shouldn’t be overlooked, but sometimes is. Lauren Morrill did an excellent job at describing that strength and experience seriously, while keeping up a funny tone and hopeful diction. Self-discovery in novels is not exactly unique, but Morrill was able to successfully write about it in a charming, refreshing and honest way. And you all know I like a good coming-of-age, self-discovery, comfort-zone-breaking novel. That’s definitely what “Being Sloane Jacobs” is (with some super cute boys thrown in there).

As much as I love this book, there’s one part that didn’t quite work for me. When the Sloanes decide to switch places, I was struck by how unconvinced I was. I mean, that’s a big deal. You have to be pretty desperate to give up your entire identity and commit to something brand new. I understood why figure skating Sloane wanted to switch places. Her anxieties were more explicit, more discussed. But I didn’t know why hockey-playing Sloane wanted to change. I know she had her family issues and anxiety about being unable to perform on the rink like she wanted to, but I never got the impression that those things made her want to stop playing hockey. And throughout the novel, she mentions a few times that she still loves and misses hockey, whereas the other Sloane doesn’t seem to miss anything about figure skating. I know they are different people and she doesn’t need to hate hockey to want to escape it, but I guess I didn’t feel she had a good enough reason to trade places. Until the end of the novel, at least, when more factors are brought to light. But still, I was a little bit distracted while I was reading because I kept wondering why hockey Sloane would truly want to trade places (figure skating camp was definitely more luxurious, but still. Doesn’t seem like a good enough reason). I probably overlooked her reasons for the switch

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and/or it’s entirely possible that I know nothing about hockey Sloane. If this is true, please someone enlighten me.

Overall, it’s impossible for me not to love a Lauren Morrill book. She had my heart from the first sentence of “Meant to Be” and she has unwaveringly kept it so far. I suspect she’ll have it forever. She’s one of those truly funny and loving authors that, you can just tell, puts her soul into every word. This shows in “Being Sloane Jacobs” just as it showed in “Meant to Be.” If you have any interest in YA fiction, or fiction in general, or people, or the world, or life, you should probably read both of these books. Now.

9 out of 10 stars!

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