Title: Being Sloane Jacobs
Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Check out this book on 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 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. (Source: Goodreads)
I am a huge fan of Lauren Morrill’s first book Meant to Be. So, when I came across this book by Morrill at work I was really excited. I was expecting a lot of cute moments, and heart squinching, swoon worthy moments. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of that. This book, about two girls who change places at separate summer camps, is something of a solitary journey which means it lacks what Morrill proved was her strong point in Meant to Be, chemistry. The chemistry between Jason and Julia in Meant to Be is really what drove the entire book, not just romantic chemistry either, humour, wit, the building of friendship. This book lacks that entirely, which is really disappointing. This book replaces it with solitary journeys of self discovery, which are really good, but they just can’t fill the void where all that chemistry should be.
Sloane Emily Jacobs is a figure skater. She is also the daughter of a senator, and her family is falling apart around her. Her brother is trying to escape, her mother is ignoring everyone’s problems, and her father is possibly cheating on her mother. Sloane Emily hasn’t skated in 2 years, ever since her massive failure at a junior skating competition. All of this builds up a pretty deep and pretty interesting character. It’s all quite well developed. I enjoyed Sloane Emily’s story because there was a lot of avoidance and building up to the scandal her father has made. Out of the two Sloanes, I often preferred Sloane Emily because she seemed slightly less judgemental, which left her sounding a lot less bitter.
Sloane Devon Jacobs is a hockey player. She is the daughter of an alcoholic mother who has been charged with DUIs and is currently in rehab. Ever since her mother was taken away Sloane Devon has been totally off her game. She gets sent away to deal with her own anger problems at hockey camp. I found Sloane Devon’s story a little less well developed, though towards the end it certainly had some much needed development. I didn’t like Sloane Devon’s voice as much because it got pretty judgmental at times. There was also a lot of stereotyping going on with bitter Sloane Devon, she stereotypes figure skaters, hockey players, and of course Canadians because the book is set it Canada, for some reason.
The alternating perspectives worked well. The two voices are distinct, with Sloane Devon having a much more bitter tone pretty frequently. I found the role reversal to be really fun if a little unbelievable. Overall the plot is a little unbelievable, especially because while the pace is really slow the decision making of the characters is very fast which creates this weird sort of disconnect.
The main problem with the book is the absence of chemistry. Jason and Julia in Meant to Be have such amazing chemistry and I was really expecting similar chemistry from on at least someone in this book. There weren’t any interesting relationships in the entire book though. Maybe Andy and Sloane Devon had a somewhat interesting friendship though really undeveloped. The two romantic leads, Nando and Matt, are sort of uninteresting. I think if they had each had separate books and separate stories they would have much better relationships and love stories. Matt and Nando both have interesting backstories but the book doesn’t leave much room for these stories to flourish. I think the guys were cute but just lacked the space to shape into someone memorable like Jason.
The other thing that really bothered me when reading this book was the setting. I felt like it didn’t feel like Montreal. It felt like a generic American city that someone stamped the name Montreal on. It lacked the culture and history of Montreal that really would have added to the book. While Meant to Be brought London to life for me, maybe less effectively than other books but still it had culture and life, Being Sloane Jacobs‘s Montreal didn’t even feel Canadian. Forget the whole French Canada aspect it lacked even the realism of a Canadian city. This was hugely disappointing. I also really felt annoyed by the Canadian jokes and the whole “monopoly money” joke that always seems to come up in books about Canada written by Americans. Its not necessary and it just makes reading the book a bit of a chore. If you follow me on Goodreads you will have seen me ranting about this pretty often while I read this book. This might be a little nitpicky of me but it really did make my experience reading the book a lit worse than it could have been.
Overall I just felt there was a lot of potential in the book that wasn’t met. The characters were somewhat underdeveloped, the relationships lacked development and chemistry, the plot was thin and inconsistent, the setting was lacking and also inconsistent, and the overall experience was more of a disappointment than anything else. It was a fun read at times but I would recommend reading Meant to Be over this book in a heartbeat.