Reader’s Report: Being Sloane Jacobs
It’s <em>The Cutting Edge</em> meets <em>Parent Trap </em>in Lauren Morrill’s sophomore novel, <em>Being Sloane Jacobs</em>
If you’re looking to get your women’s hockey fix during this period of social distancing, but don’t want to get invested in a book you aren’t sure you’ll like? We’ve got you covered — reviewing every book from the list we compiled at the start of March.
We’ve already reviewed Carrie Allen’s Michigan vs. the Boys, a review of which you can read here, and Sara Biren’s Cold Day in the Sun, review available here.
Title: Being Sloane Jacobs
Author: Lauren Morrill
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (4 stars)
Sloane Emily Jacobs is a figure skater, on the verge of a comeback after several years of missing competitions. Sloane Devon Jacobs is a hockey player with anger issues, on the verge of being benched. Both are sent to camps for their respective disciplines in Montréal...where they run into each other and concoct an elaborate plan to switch places for the duration of their stays.
For a figure skater with some pretty significant prejudices against hockey players and a hockey player with a lot of disdain for the art of figure skating, it might seem like these two would struggle in each other’s places. And, of course, they do — but their biggest struggles might come off the ice, as each skater is quietly battling demons of her own within her family.
Who is your favorite character and why?
Weirdly enough, I think my favorite character was Melody, who is a whole bunch of women’s hockey stereotypes rolled into a single, albeit multi-dimensional, character. The very first description of Melody is that she looks bulky, brutish, and almost man-like, but as the story progresses, readers start to see a bit more of her personality. The audience never quite understands what has made her so cold and focused, but that aspect of her being begins to thaw as Sloane Emily earns her respect.
I think my biggest qualm with Melody was the way she was depicted in the beginning, though I did love her development from a mean-spirited and dimensionless athlete to someone who was more of a team player.
Where does the book take place?
The beginning of the book is split between Sloane Emily’s home in Washington, D.C., and Sloane Devon’s home of Philadelphia. Their respective (or irrespective?) skating camps both take place in Montréal, however — the hockey camp at the University of Montréal, and the other at a fictional figure skating institute on the other side of the city. There are a few glimpses of urban Montréal too, as the characters explore the city with their respective love interests.
It was a little bit difficult to gauge what exact time period the story was set in, because there wasn’t a lot of allusions to real-life hockey or figure skating icons beyond generic references to Kristi Yamaguchi and Tonya Harding.
What was the best part of the book and why?
The best part of the book was undoubtedly the ending. I’ll try not to spoil too much, but let’s just say a happy ending was in the cards for both Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon, and it was the kind of heartwarming ending that made you smile in spite of how cheesy it was.
Seeing things work out for people who have had a rough go of it in life is always heartwarming to me, anyways.
Would you recommend this book to a friend?
For a friend that’s looking exclusively for a story featuring women’s hockey, I don’t think I would recommend Being Sloane Jacobs. It’s a good book, don’t get me wrong (after all, I am rating it four stars), but it’s better suited to audiences who aren’t really familiar with women’s hockey and who aren’t as invested in the sport as some of our readers might be. Plus, half the book is literally about figure skating, so if you’re looking for a hockey-centric book, this might not be what you’re looking for.
My favorite scene in the book is the reunion of Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon with their families. Like I said, this bit comes towards the end of the book, so I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but I think it was just really powerful to see the way the Sloanes’ families reacted to the truth behind their escapade.
What comes next?
The world — well, maybe just me, but I like to think the rest of the world is too — is hungry for more well-rounded, developed sports fiction novels, and I think that Being Sloane Jacobs is a solid choice for fans of ice sports like figure skating and hockey. That being said, the book was definitely geared towards a younger audience, so if you’re in the mood for something particularly thought-provoking, this choice might not be your best bet.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to purchase the book, we highly recommend shopping local. Even with local stores being closed due to the pandemic, many are offering delivery. You can also purchase ebooks and audio books from many local bookstores too. Find your local bookstore at Indie Books or Bookshop.