Title: The Square Root of Summer
Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
UK Release Date: 5th May 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Time Travel, Science Fiction
My heart is a kaleidoscope, and when we kiss it makes my world unravel . . .
Last summer, Gottie’s life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason left her – the boy to whom she lost her virginity (and her heart) – and he wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral! This summer, still reeling from twin heartbreaks, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations. Until, after five years absence, Thomas comes home: former boy next door. Former best friend. Former everything. And as life turns upside down again she starts to experience strange blips in time – back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then…
During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last.
The Square Root of Summer is an astounding and moving debut from Harriet Reuter Hapgood.
I’d been super keen to read The Square Root of Summer for a long time, as I’d seen Harriet Reuter Hapgood speak at both YALW and YA Shot, so was left very curious about her book. There are lots of reviews around the bookish community too, which meant that my anticipation was high. However, while it was pretty good, for me it wasn’t as good as I’d expected it to be, and I was left feeling a little disappointed.
The characters in this book were really interesting and engaging, and they were something that kept me interested in the story. Gottie was a character that I didn’t particularly like, but I loved that she liked physics (yay for girls in STEM!) and I thought this made her stand out. With the exception of Jason, and also Sof at times, I think I loved all the other characters. Thomas was cute, and I thought he was a heart-warming character (and he loved baking, so this book gets another thumbs up for breaking gender norms). Ned and Gottie’s father were both distant at times, but you could really see that they cared about Gottie. Grey, although only featuring in memory, was vivid and distinctive nonetheless, and you really got a sense of his wacky cheer and the impact he’d had on Gottie.
Something which I both liked and disliked was the time travel aspect. As mentioned above, Gottie really likes physics, and there’s a lot of talk around wormholes, travelling through time, and alternate universes. While once I got to the end I could sort of see what had been going on, I was pretty confused throughout the whole book, and was happy to see there was an explanation of what exactly had been happening on Goodreads. It was definitely an idea that made for an interesting story, but ultimately I found that it could get a little jumbled, leaving me perplexed as to what was going on from time to time.
The romance aspect of the book was cute in the end, but I found that mainly I was quite frustrated with it. I wouldn’t say there was much nice romance at all with Jason – all Gottie’s memories of her time with him were clouded for me, as obviously the reader knows that he’s not good to Gottie in the end. In the parts with Thomas, I liked what they had, but I thought it was a little cliché to have the childhood best friend returning, and being really hot and liking the protagonist.
Overall, while I would say that The Square Root of Summer was a good book and that some readers might absolutely read it, for me the confusing nature of many aspects of the book meant that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping to.