by Lauren Morrill
To be published on January 7, 2014
By Delacorte BFYR
Source: Thanks to Random House for approving me for an e-ARC on Netgalley.
Summary 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 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.
My take: Being Sloane Jacobs is a cute movie mash-up on a page: take The Parent Trap and The Cutting Edge, mix them together, and what do you get? A fun YA Prince and the Pauper story.
Sloane Emily Jacobs is a nearly washed-up teen figure skater and the daughter of a DC politician, while Sloane Devon Jacobs is a scrappy Philly-based hockey player with dreams of a sports scholarship. They check into the same Montreal hotel -- but after a run-in and quick bonding session, decide to check out as each other. So Sloane Emily goes to hockey camp, while Sloane Devon goes to figure skating camp. Trouble ensues as Sloane D. has to learn to be an ice princess and Sloane E. has to figure out how to avoid bodily harm on and off the ice. I love fish out of water stories, and it was really fun that both of these girls felt so completely out of place. And, of course, Sloane D. learns that being an ice princess isn't all rhinestones and air kisses, while Sloane E. learns that she's tougher than she thinks. There is a bit of romance, a mean girl, a prank or two, and then -- of course -- the girls' covers are eventually blown and they have to figure out how to clean up their mess.
Being Sloane Jacobs is told in alternating first person by the Sloanes. I liked both POVs, but thought that the hockey scenes felt more vivid and detailed than the ice skating sequences. The pressure facing teen athletes is an interesting topic for contemporary YA, and I wished the book had time to explore that, but Being Sloane Jacobs is definitely not a Serious Issue Book -- it's pure entertainment. I loved the fact that the book was set in Montreal, a city I've always wanted to visit. And I thought the story wound up the girls' life-swap in a realistic yet satisfying way -- though those alternating chapters did get head-spinningly short at the end.
Like most life-swap stories, Being Sloane Jacobs was improbable yet enjoyable. There is no new ground broken here, but the book takes a well-trod path and makes walking it -- or skating it?-- pretty fun. Although Being Sloane Jacobs does skew toward the young end of YA, I think that older YA readers who have serious 90s nostalgia for Olsen twin movies like Switching Goals will also find a lot to enjoy here.
Love books like this? A while back I did a post called "If You Like Books Like the Cutting Edge," which you can find here. (And I thought I was the only one obsessed with that movie.)
Then, if you love YA fish out of water stories as much as I do, here are some recommendations for you.