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.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: January 7th 2014 by Delacorte
Source: Publisher in Exchange for an honest review
Three and a half stars: A cute, though not exactly believable, book about finding yourself.
Sloane Emily Jacobs once again ends her ice skating practice with dismal results. She is still unable to find the confidence she needs to land a triple. Worse, her mother just informed her that she is to spend her summer at a prestigious ice skating summer camp. Just what she doesn't need: more pressure. Her home life is difficult and it doesn't help that she caught her father, the Senator, in a compromising position. It is all Sloane can do to keep her head above water. At the hotel, Sloane bumps into another girl, who just so happens to have the same name, Sloane Jacobs. At first, Sloane lifts her nose up at the other Sloane. Sloane Devon Jacobs is a hockey player, her sense of fashion is none existent and she is carrying a big, smelly duffel bag. When their luggage gets switched, the girls end up meeting again face to face. The two not only share the same name, but they are of the same build and have similar appearances. Sloane Emily hatches a daring plan. What if they switch places? How hard can it be to be a hockey player? Can the two Sloanes pull off the switch?
What I Liked:
- I enjoyed Ms. Morrill's debut: Meant to Be, last year so I knew I had to read her sophomore novel. While her follow up novel wasn't quite as charming, I enjoyed the ride, the characters and the message. This is a sweet contemporary that shows you that the grass isn't always greener and that everyone has problems. Running away is not the answer. Even though I struggled with the plausibility of this one, I still had a good time reading it, and I can recommend it to those of you who enjoy pleasant, contemporary books.
- I was immediately drawn to both Sloane Jacobs. Sloane Emily comes from a life of privilege as she is the daughter of a Senator. However, she is forced to live under the scrutiny of the public eye, and her parents both put tremendous pressure on her. Sloane spent her entire youth training to be a figure skater, but a disastrous fall at thirteen, almost ended it all. Sloane Emily is desperately trying to make a comeback, but her nerves are getting the best of her. Recently, she learned a troubling secret regarding her father that could shatter everything. Sloane wishes she could be anyone but herself to escape the pressures of her life. Sloane Devon lives in poverty. Her father is struggling to make ends meet while her mother is in rehab for alcoholism. Sloane's ticket out is a hockey scholarship, but everything is in danger because Sloane has lost her fire. She continually freezes when it is time to make the shot because she overthinks it. After Sloane snaps and beats up a competitor, she must either go to hockey camp for the summer or lose her chance at a hockey scholarship. I enjoyed getting to know these two Sloane's from completely opposite worlds. I liked that they each had their problems. It was entertaining to watch them struggle to cope and adapt with their new identities. I appreciated that they learned they couldn't run away from their problems and that they both learned something about themselves.
- There is a romance with each Sloane. I liked that both romances took their time building and were based on friendships. Sloane Devon's romance was born when she rekindled a childhood friendship. I liked the way Sloane Devon and Nando learned from each other and helped one another. It was a slow, sweet and satisfying romance that took plenty of time to develop. It was my favorite of the two. Sloane Emily's relationship is a slow mover. It takes awhile for it to take root, but I appreciated that the couple had to overcome trust issues and build a friendship before it became something more.
- I enjoyed the amount of detail and research that was evident when it came to presenting the world of figure skating and hockey. Ms. Morrill doesn't sugar coat figure skating at all. She presents the good, bad and ugly parts of the sport. From the grueling hours of training, injuries, scars and blisters. Not to mention the immense pressure, rivalries and the stingy diets. The hockey folks don't fare much better as they are subject to the brutality of the sport. There are plenty of hits and injuries and bruises when it comes to hockey. Both sports, like any sport, in order to be successful take an immense amount of time, practice and hard work. I enjoyed learning more about both of these ice sports.
- I liked that this book is told through dual first person narratives. It switches back and forth between Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon. It does take a tiny bit of time to adjust to the changes as you are first learning each character, but the chapters are clearly marked to it isn't a problem.
- I loved the overall take home message. This book relates that no matter who you are you will have problems in life. You can't hide from your problems instead you must tackle them head on and overcome. I liked that both girls ended up learning something new, and that they achieved goals they never thought possible. This is a book about growth, transformation and new beginnings. I think that it is a wonderful, positive book for young adult readers. This is a book you can hand to your reader with confidence as it is a clean read.
And The Not So Much:
- The biggest hurdle with this book is that it lacks believability. There is even a joke about this being like a Parent Trap knockoff. It was a bit hard to swallow the fact that two complete strangers who share the same uncommon name, could meet and switch places. Furthermore, it was a strain to believe that a hockey player could blend in at a figure skating camp, especially when she knows nothing about jumps and figure skating technique. I think it would have been apparent from the get go that Sloane Devon was not a figure skater. It was a bit more plausible for Sloane Emily to pull off hockey, but still it was unlikely. There were moments in the book that just didn't work. For instance, Sloane Emily's father calls her, but not on her cell phone and Sloane Devon gets the call. Why would he bother to try and call her on any phone but her cell phone? That part didn't make sense to me.
- I liked the ending and that everything drew to a somewhat satisfactory close, but I was left with many unanswered questions. It wasn't clear exactly what each girl's fate was in the future. Did Sloane Devon get her hockey scholarship? Was she finally able to shake her nerves? Was Sloane Emily going to hang up her skates for good? What happened with Sloane Emily's father? Did he survive the scandal? Was Sloane Devon's father able to pay the bills? Did Sloane Emily find a way to establish a better relationship with her mother? It seemed so, but there was never much discussion on how Sloane Emily and her mother worked things out. Their relationship is rather negative and I was hoping for a more positive outcome. All in all, I just felt like the ending was a bit rushed and I wished that it had taken the time to provide some more closure. It felt a bit too open ended.
Being Sloane Jacobs was an entertaining and interesting read with a positive message for younger readers. This is a book that takes you through the trials and tribulations of hockey and figure skating. Once you get beyond the aspects that are not quite so believable, you can settle in and have fun.
"I haven't seen a shooting star since I was a little kid---since Mom and Dad were my heroes. Since I believed in them. Since they believed in me."
"I'm pretty sure admitting that I was figuring out how to remove her arm from her body and beat her with it would get me labeled as Not Classy."
"But lining up against a bunch of girls who've played since they could walk, one of whom is the size of the Jolly Green Giant and hates me, is possibly worse than flashing a boob on national television in the middle of my long program."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
LAUREN MORRILL grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was a short-term Girl Scout, a (not so) proud member of the marching band, and a trouble-making editor for the school newspaper. She graduated from Indiana University with a major in history and a minor in rock & roll, and now lives in Macon, GA with her husband and their dog, Lucy. When she's not writing, she spends a lot of hours getting knocked around playing roller derby. Meant to Be was her first novel published in 2013. You can find Lauren on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Goodreads.