Friday, December 6, 2013
ARC Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Title: Being Sloane Jacobs
Author: Lauren Morrill
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Release Date: January 7th, 2014
If there is anything flawless about Being Sloane Jacobs it is its marketing campaign. Morrill has been launched as a chick-lit, contemporary romance author, akin to Stephanie Perkins, and while that isn't an altogether apt comparison (in my opinion), it isn't incorrect either. What I appreciate about this novel is that I knew what I was getting into even before I cracked open the cover: pure, mindless entertainment. Being Sloane Jacobs is the type of novel where you are forced to overlook the little details that fail to fit together, compelled to push aside the gaping plot holes that don't add up, and just read. For readers who were disappointed that novels like Just One Year promised endings that didn't happen, Being Sloane Jacobs is a relief, giving exactly what it says it will. For others, however, who anticipate the hidden depth in every novel, this story may just prove a little too juvenile, a lot too short, and a slight bit disappointing by the end.
Sadly, one of the best aspects of this story is its synopsis. Sloane Emily Jacobs, the daughter of a senator running for re-election, is a figure skater - one who desperately needs to re-launch her career after failing to perform well the past year. Sloane Devon Jacobs is an ice-hockey player - one with a bit of an anger management issue - who hasn't been playing her best lately. When the two Sloane Jacobs meet on their way to their respective figure skating and ice hockey summer programs, they decide to switch places. With similar builds and a desire to escape the mounting pressure they feel, Sloane Devon Jacobs goes off to figure skating camp while Sloane Emily Jacobs rushes off to play ice-hockey. As it turns out, however, running away doesn't solve your problems...not even close.
While the plot for this novel is similar to The Parent Trap, an important difference is the fact that these two Sloanes are running away from their lives. Not only do they belong to different social classes - rich and middle class - but their family issues are also vastly different. Yet, they find a thread of connection in their loneliness, fear, and inability to face their difficulties head-on. Needless to say, Morrill nails this issue in her sophomore novel, capturing the sinking feeling of despair and helplessness that so many teens feel. Where Being Sloane Jacobs faltered, however, was in the missed opportunity and lost potential for this concept to develop further. Both Sloanes, after a few initial difficulties, acclimate into their new lives with ease, making friends and learning their new sports with ease - a little unbelievable, don't you think? Moreover, they both find incredibly sweet love interests who - unfortunately - become a large part of the narrative.
With a plethora of issues at hand, this 352 page novel just didn't cover it all. Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon's growth is rushed and limited to the last few chapters, the development sloppy and lacking the layers of depth it could have had. Additionally, the guys these two girls fall for have their own share of problems which could have been explored to a larger degree as well. Mostly, however, the issue lies in the fact that Being Sloane Jacobs is far too much surface-story and too little depth. With alternating perspectives - that worked really well, surprisingly - Morrill could have easily focused this story on the inner dilemmas both these girls faced. Instead, there's unnecessary romantic drama, a large focus on proving these girls can master another sport, and a hasty epilogue that does little to the story as a whole. I wanted a novel about two girls who gained the courage to face their problems - and formed a tight friendship along the way - but the relationship these two Sloanes share lacks a true bond and the strength I wanted to emerge from these girls happened far too quickly, far too late.
Ultimately, I couldn't overlook the plot holes or missed opportunities in this narrative to enjoy the story within these pages. It is entertaining, certainly, and compulsively readable, forcing me to flip page after page even when I was bedridden and sick, but it lacks more than a little something to make it memorable. Both Sloanes are forgettable heroines, their journey unremarkable and childish, reading more like a middle grade comedy than a young adult contemporary piece. Being Sloane Jacobs will find its place among shelves of beloved readers - certainly - but it won't be replacing Anna and the French Kiss anytime soon on mine.