Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Release Date: January 7, 2014
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Delacorte

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill - Goodreads | Purchase

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.


Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Protagonist, Sloane Emily - Sloane Emily is a former figure skating Olympic front-runner who isn't sure she wants to return to the sport, especially given what she discovered about her rich, broken, politically-oriented family. She doesn't know where to turn, what to do... until she meets Sloane Devon and comes up with a plan that will thoroughly change her and her summer. Sloane's determination and bravery really take center light when she swaps places with Sloane Devon. Except for one prank that Sloane Emily played, I actually really liked how the hockey program brought out a lot of qualities - her ferocity, her team-playing habits - that might have remained hidden had Sloane not lost her posh clothes and figure skating diet.

2. (+) Protagonist, Sloane Devon - Sloane Devon is a hothead hockey player looking to get recruited by scouts but unwilling to admit that she needs help because of her recent setbacks in games. If she's not recruited, her family can't afford to pay for college because they are dealing with other issues beyond financial problems. Sloane Devon is snarky, fierce, angry yet laid-back. I found it easier to relate to Sloane because of her anger. Though she clearly needs to manage her anger, it also reveals and maker her easier to understand: she cares so desperately for her family, for her sport that she's psyching herself out. That and well, the pressure of the game. How quickly that can make you question your love for the sport (see #4). I particularly liked how Morrill took a chance by giving one of her protagonists a serious anger issue and how she'd resolved it through figure skating (and other things, of course). Another thing I really appreciated in both Sloanes was how they accentuated each other, especially with regard to stereotypes and gender assumptions.

3. (+) World-building / Sports - It is clear that Lauren Morrill did her research on both sports and Montreal. The most I know about figure skating is from an occasional Olympic match that I'll watch. Hockey is one of those sports that I have no interest in and have actively avoided... And yet Morrill makes both sports interesting and easy to understand for those who aren't entirely familiar with the mechanics. Plus Montreal! I had the feeling that either Morrill had been there before or she's just a pro researcher and knows how to seamlessly incorporate her results into her work. My only complaint would be wanting more of both -- which definitely isn't a bad thing.

4. (+) Nostalgia - Even though I've never played either of these sports, this book brought back memories of when I did play basketball. If you've ever played a sport competitively, I think you'll identify with how these girls feel about their sports and the character arcs they have to address their feelings. Personally I miss the feeling of the game, but I don't miss the stress. Morrill captures both the good and bad in playing a competitive sport, and I applaud her for that, especially since you don't read a lot of YA (contemporary) where the protagonists are actually good at sports.

5. (+/-) Plot/Pranks - Before you read this, make sure that you are someone who can let go of a premise that might not be entirely believable. Both girls work hard to learning the other's sport, but getting to scouting/recognition level in one month is questionable. Truthfully I didn't mind that, and I actually admire how much Lauren Morrill managed to squeeze into this novel: programs for hockey and figure skating and their dynamics, two protagonist character arcs, two romantic subplots, subplots for each girl's background, etc. However, one of the pranks played nearly made me stop reading the novel. I discuss this spoiler under the highlighted region if you're interested. First off - let's be honest here: how many young adult characters actually have big breasts? I'm looking at my shelves right now, and I can name two out of so, so many characters. Do you know how much people make fun of girls with big boobs? I didn't have them in HS, but the girls who did were the brunt of a lot of mixed reactions. So I don't think the name-calling (for Molly) by Matt and others is unrealistic. What I take issue with is that I'm supposed to be rooting for the girl who froze Molly's sport bras when she desperately needed them. Changing hair color, that's fine -- it doesn't actually hurt. Running without a sports bra, especially when Molly wears two of them, hurts a lot. You can't tell me that Molly deserved that prank after kicking Sloane from that room; they are nowhere near equal actions. What Molly did was not nice. What Sloane Emily in retribution felt rather close to glorifying bullying. I hated that moment so much that I almost stopped reading because of it.

6. (+/-) Romance - Both boys are swoon-worthy in their own way, completely adorable romantic interests, but I honestly never felt much for either romance because I didn't get the feeling that I knew either guy or that they were realized characters. They were given a set of problems, and that certainly helped distinguish them and the character growth they needed to go through, but we didn't get to see them go through their character growth. They're cute, they're fun, they have back stories, they help advance both Sloane Jacobs's character arcs, but they fell short for me.

7. (+/-) So What? - I had this vaguely unsatisfied feeling when I finished the book. Of course I liked the book, but my experience with this wasn't the same as mine with Meant to Be. Julia got to address her problems head-on; her character growth was directly related to the issues raised. These girls grow and gain strength and faith in themselves over the course of the novel, but neither really has the chance to address the issues that bothered them from the beginning (e.g. a hockey match without feeling the tingles/anger problems; Sloane's dad) - they're sort of patched up, a HEA without seeing some of the things they'd learned from that summer being applied. This is one of those times when I actually wanted a bit more from a book. It all fits well with the cute, light read, and I knew what I was getting when I started, but I still wanted a bit more.

8. (+) Writing - Lauren Morrill did a great job at distinguishing both girls's PoVs and keeping the conflict high throughout the novel. The writing is smooth, easy to read, and completely appropriate for the novel.

9. (+) Pacing - I hesitated to write that I wanted more from the novel (#7) because it was a perfect length. It was wonderfully paced, pushing us forward with little snippets of how the girls had advanced in their programs and steadily building towards the climax. The only time it seemed slightly rushed was after the programs, when the sort-of HEA was introduced.

10. (+) The Cover - This cover does a great job of giving you the tone of the novel... and doesn't have to deal with how to portray both Sloane Jacobs and romantic interests without confusing a reader.

Lauren Morrill delivers another fun, cute contemporary romance. Recommended for a light read and especially for former sports players.

31 comments:

  1. I actually liked this one a bit better than Meant To Be. Despite not playing a sport ever I connected better to both the Sloanes than Julia. Plus the boys were better in this one :)

    Totally with you on the prank though - as someone who has always had larger assets that made me hurt for her!

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    1. Really? I can see how both boys are more romantically appealing than Jason was, but I liked Jason more just cause he was such a goofball, and so realistic to guys his age. (Or maybe guys I knew). I suppose I can also see relating to the Sloanes more than Julia; I really liked Julia, but I saw a bunch of reviews that indicated they were not always her fan. I'm guessing you have a review of this up -- can't wait to look at and compare notes when I stop by the blog later!

      And yes. I have bigger boobs now and ack, even picturing that makes me shudder a bit...

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  2. So glad you liked this! I wasn't too sure if I wanted to read this as I've heard a few things about it but since our opinions usually are similar, I'm not too worried now :)

    Ack, I think the prank was definitely over-the-top. There is definitely a line between a prank and bullying and I'm just cringing when I think about it. I think authors need to be really careful when it comes to matters like this and especially in contemporaries.

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    1. It's fun! Our opinions are similar -- if you're feeling in the mood for an adorable, fun contemp. romance, definitely check this one out, Charlotte, and let me know what you think!

      "I think authors need to be really careful when it comes to matters like this and especially in contemporaries." -- Yes. I think the other pranks were actually pranks and done quite well, but this one - I just couldn't get on board with the idea of that and the idea of other people, in the reviews, embracing the idea of others freezing big-chested girls' sports bras.

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  3. Well, I think that this book looks really good
    I like the idea of exchanging places and the whole prank thing is intriguing me since it almost hits too close to home
    Your reader
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

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    1. It almost hits too close to home? Woah!! Have you switched places with someone else before? It is a really fun premise.

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  4. I think I felt virtually the same, Christina...I liked it, but it didn't have the same effect on me as Meant to Be. And I very much could have done without the juvenile bra-freezing prank. I understand Sloane Emily needed to assert herself somehow, but there were definitely better ways of doing so.

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    1. Definitely. I think she asserted herself well when she'd bumped into Molly or did things on the ice; this was a different sort of assertion, though. I'm glad we had similar feelings about the book - it's always nice to have someone's reading tastes align so well with yours!

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  5. I thought BSJ was cute. It wasn't this grand read, but honestly I didn't really expect it to be. I felt the same way about Meant To Be too but I feel like MTB had great lines that I could relate to. Still, BSJ made me happy when I read it and I didn't really dive deep into it.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

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    1. Well I thought it was cute too. I try to adjust my expectations according to the book so I don't end up looking for something completely different than what the book promises. I'm glad we both enjoyed it and related to the lines in MTB and felt happy reading BSJ.

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  6. I've been so excited for this book and now I'm even more so! Exchanging places interests me as well as competitive sports because, like you, I've done basketball and loved that connection. Bullying, however, is a no-no for me. So we'll see :)

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    1. We've both played basketball? How cool! I don't think you get to see a lot of YA novels with a positive depiction of sports or a lot of readers like you and me who are interested in that. Let me know if you choose to read the novel - I'm curious to see what you'll think of the prank!

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  7. I agree with you, I liked the book, but I didn't like it as much as Meant to Be, and I think it's because I didn't connect with the characters as much and I didn't feel like I got to know the guys. That was probably due to the split POV so there just wasn't as much time to get to know them. So that fell short for me as well. But it was cute, but I know I'll forget about it soon. Great review! ~Pam

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    1. Too true - everything you said. Split PoV, time to get to know the guys. Cute but not as cute as MTB. Here's to hoping we'll both Morrill's next books :).

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  8. Aw, sorry to hear that you were somewhat unsatisfied with the ending, but I agree about the boobs, and liking both sloanes as main characters

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    1. I'm glad you liked both Sloanes and the book! I hope we both enjoy Morrill's next books. Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. I liked this one as well. I agree that Meant to Be is still my favorite between the two. Lauren did do a good job with the 2 POVs and pacing.

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    1. I think I also just like the premise of MTB more. I hope we'll both her next books as well :).

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  10. I'm really looking forward to picking this up, but it's good to get a sense of what didn't fully work for you here. It'll help to be better prepared going in. I don't think I really would have considered this one if it hadn't been for Meant to Be, which I enjoyed A LOT, but I'm eager to see if this works for me in the same way now. Even though you were left feeling slightly unsatisfied (which I completely understand), I'm glad you enjoyed most of it, anyway. I wonder which of the two Sloanes will be easier for me to relate to. And it's a shame that the love interests weren't as well distinguished as they could have been, but it sounds like it could have been much worse. Cute and fun, if nothing more, just about works for me when I'm after a light read (which is pretty much always at moment!).

    Great review, Christina! Hope you had a good holiday/new year, by the way. Hope you're doing okay. :)

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    1. Hey, Sam! I think you're reading this one now, right? I hope you're enjoying it and that adjusting your expectations has helped. I want to know which of the two Sloanes you most relate to too, and what you think of the romance - whether all of this will be cute and fun for you. I hope so, and I hope you had a good holiday / New Year too! Looking forward to catching up with you soon :D.

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  11. haven't read about these sports in books; good to know easy to understand

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  12. I really can't wait to read this book, it just seems so fun! However, I am feeling sort of worried about the prank. Small pranks that don't cause pain are okay, but pranks that do are just sort of cruel, and the one Sloane pulls sounds especially so. And yeah, it isn't very common for female leads in YA to have big boobs... Or it may just seem that way since either it is not mentioned or the character dedicates a sentence to lamenting over how unimpressive their chest is.

    Anyways. I do love that the novel does a great job with the relationships between the characters, their dynamics, and their growth and development. It's also a very admirable feat that the author was able to write about so many things in her story, and still managing to make it flow so well. I do Taekwondo as more of a hobby, only entering competitions every so often, but I am sure that I will really be able to identify with Sloane.

    It's a little disappointing that the love interests fell short for you and that you were left with a "so what"feeling, but I'm giving this book a try! Great review!

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    1. I imagine that when you're reading the book, it may not seem as cruel as it does here, or as I've made it sound, which wasn't my intention, but I do hope it doesn't bother you too much when you get around it. "It's also a very admirable feat that the author was able to write about so many things in her story, and still managing to make it flow so well." -- Definitely. If nothing else, I am 100% impressed with this. It's really obvious how much research went into creating these different situations. And the romance interests falling short + the 'so what' feeling weren't too much in the face of the rest of the cute, fun story. I do hope you have fun when you read this!

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  13. I've been hearing positive things about this book lately. I also keep hearing that they enjoyed this more than Meant to Be, which I struggled with. Glad you enjoyed this one. I'll need to read it!

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    1. Oops - I suppose I am the opposite of that trend, but I do hope that you like BSJ more than you did MTB. Sorry to hear that one didn't work out as well for you!

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  14. Hmm, your comment on the prank is interesting. I totally see your point, but I didn't really see it that way. I mean, the jokes and stuff were unnecessary, but I didn't think Devin went for the bra thing because she had huge boobs. It seemed like a coincidence more than anything. Certainly not my favorite part of the book, though. :/

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    1. Really? But Matt and Cameron, I'm pretty sure, make specific comments about her boobs, and I find it hard to believe that freezing the bras doesn't relate to her big chest, especially since her other pranks and assertions are more related to hockey / the ice. I don't think it was meant to sound as offensive as I made it, and that's completely my fault though. I didn't realize so many people would comment on that here!

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  15. I am a sucker for sports-themed YA; I am totally into this on the ice skating alone! I enjoyed Meant to Be so I'll probably give this a shot :)

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    1. Right??? There's not much sports-themed YA, so when some does come along, it's always really nice to read. I hope you enjoy this one as much as you enjoyed MTB!

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  16. I've taken a slight interest in hockey lately since my boyfriend is very dedicated to the sport. The contrast between hockey and figure skating interests me since they are so very different, yet both carry a kind of beauty because of the ice. I would like to check this out.

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    1. "The contrast between hockey and figure skating interests me since they are so very different, yet both carry a kind of beauty because of the ice." -- Very true, and I think this is highlighted even more because of how different each Sloane is in personality and temperament. Your boyfriend will be able to tell you more about whether the depictions of hockey are actually authentic than I am, that's for sure. I hope you like the novel :).

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