The Square Root of Summer
By: Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Print ARC
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.
Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:
To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.
Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.
I was a tad nervous about The Square Root of Summer when I started it because the writing was different than I am used to. It wasn’t completely linear so there were often moments I wasn’t 100% sure I was keeping up with the book. I found myself rereading little bits trying to make sure I was absorbing everything I was reading. I’m not sure if this was a mood ‘me’ thing or the writing but if others struggle like this it might detract them from reading. But, I was able to get used to the writing and I ended up really loving it. So my advice is to keep with it.
The story centers around Gottie and her trying to cope with the loss of Grey, her grandfather. I recently lost my grandfather so I connected deeply with this aspect of the story. I felt deeply what Gottie was feeling and this became the storyline in the book I was most moved and entranced by. There are other elements like the relationship between Gottie and her brother and father as well as a romance angle. She was not only dealing with the loss of her grandfather but also her first love.
There are some science bits that I found interesting even though I wasn’t totally sure I understood them. I’ve never been one to understand time travel, physics or the like but that never stops my appreciation and attempts to understand. I felt that the author tried incorporating the information necessary to understand her story elements but I’m not sure she was 100% successful. It’s so hard to tell since I’m not really all that able to digest that sort of science in the best of times. I will say that even with my inability to understand I was still able to love the story and book. So, if it’s going over your head- skim and read on. I don’t think it’s necessary to really ‘get’ it all.
The romance was really sweet and I enjoyed watching the characters open up towards one another. I think that many readers will relate to the romance element or the immense losses Gottie had recently experienced. I will say that of all the books I’ve read about loss after my grandfather’s death this one encompassed my feelings about it the best. I was very moved and the book drove me to tears. I really don’t cry that often or easily in books so I was impressed that I was so emotionally connected to this one.
I had a slowish start with The Square Root of Summer but it didn’t take too long for me to fall into the story, start loving Gottie and her heart-ache and really connect to the losses she was experiencing. The relationship she had with her grandfather and her coping of his death was so poignant to me and beautifully executed. I felt a deep connection to this element of the story and really this made the book for me. I felt it was therapeutic in my own sadness to read and experience this book.