The synopsis: “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.” Note: Being Sloane Jacobs is told in alternating POV between the two Sloanes.
This book had a polished finish and a sense of a strong, professional command over the writing and the story. However, I was prevented from giving it my all-out affection by some nagging issues in the plot.
Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon were well-developed as clearly distinct from each other, and unlike a certain dystopian trilogy-finale that I will not be speaking of, I never had to flip back to the start of the chapter to check whose perspective I was reading from. The girls’ backstories were nicely woven in at choice moments to the adventure. I also really enjoyed reading the details of life at both camps, and the author seemed well informed about both hockey and figure skating—at the very least, enough to satisfy a reader who knows nothing about either.
Here’s the hitch: like I said, I know nothing about either skating or hockey, but I have the impression they are very different from each other. They don’t even use the same kind of ice skate. So do I really buy that a girl who’s never worn figure skates before, hasn’t even had a dance lesson, could show up to a figure skating camp with nothing but a late-night, Youtube-fueled hotel room crash course under her belt, and not only pass as a skater, but actually be a competitive threat to kids who have been skating since before they could read? Kids who are probably aiming for the Olympics? I’m sorry, but no. No, I really don’t. Sloane Emily at least had a childhood as the sibling of a hockey star, so I’m a little more willing to buy her transformation, but I doubt it was entirely plausible either. These sports take time! No matter how much effort you gush out, there’s only so much you can speed up the process. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief quite that far.
The other thing that bugged me is the fact that both Sloanes had boy drama. We all know I love a good romance, but it felt forced or gratuitous, like the author believed you can’t have a female protagonist without a love interest. These were short camps, and the girls had enough going on without juggling guys. If it had been me, I would have kept Sloane Devon’s relationship and cut Sloane Emily’s. Hers seemed rushed and unbelievable to me—they formed an awfully strong attachment based on only one or two menial interactions. I mean, Matt (the “hockey hottie”) kind of gave up his whole player lifestyle for Sloane. Why? Was she really that bewitching? And if it wasn’t Sloane Emily that made him change, what was it? I feel like we learned nothing about what makes Matt tick or what he wants from life. Sloane Devon’s romance was a lot more organic.
I guess I tend to like Wicked-esque stories of two opposites meeting and changing each other for the better, and that’s what the Sloanes had. When all is said and done, this was a fun and engaging story about leaving your comfort zone and finding new facets of yourself because of it. I give this book the green light, but with a grain of salt. The details of the plot could have used another edit.