(Blackholes and Romance): The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

(Blackholes and Romance): The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter HapgoodThe Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Published by Pan Macmillan on May 5th 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Family, Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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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, the boy to whom she lost her heart 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 one of those books I’m not sure how to describe and do it justice.

The main character Gottie is a little lost in her life. When her beloved grandfather/surrogate father Grey died, her brother moved to London, her boyfriend broke her heart and her Papa buried himself in his grief, Gottie shut out the world. A year has passed and now Gottie’s brother is back, her ex continues to confuse her and Gottie can’t continue as she has been. Choosing to focus on an extra credit science essay, Gottie explores the idea of wormholes, blackholes and theoretical time travel resulting in her going back to some of her most important moments and leaving blackouts in her present day memories.

For most of this novel there is the question of is this really happening to Gottie? OR has her grief over the losses in her life overwhelmed her to the point where she’s hallucinating. And even now I’ve finished the novel I’m not entirely convinced which way I’m leaning.

But despite my confusion I thought The Square Root of Summer was a beautiful read. Gottie is a great character to follow. She’s by no means perfect. In fact she’s a little self-obsessed and so entirely consumed in her own self that she often forgets to check in with her loved ones. Her brother is a fairly typical college student/devoted musician and I liked the dynamic he had with Gottie. Their father is somewhat absent for most of the novel but in a way which was right for the story. I loved the German culture sprinkled throughout the novel and thought it worked wonderfully with the English setting. And Grey’s diary entries were a great way to show who he was and what he meant to Gottie without being present in the novel.

Gottie grows over the novel and find a way to deal with her grief over losing her family. She also find herself and her place in the world – but not before dealing with family and romantic dramas. I particularly enjoyed the romance story lines in this novel. Gottie has to come to terms with her ex-boyfriend who broke things off just after her life fell apart. And there’s also the complication of her childhood partner in crime returning to town after being abroad for the past five years. There’s confusion for Gottie because she’s not entirely sure how everything fell apart with both of these boys. I liked how the author dealt with these relationships. Both are very different and I liked reading about how Gottie interacted with them both and how everything played out.

I wasn’t expecting this book to be sci-fi/time travel centric and despite my confusion, I enjoyed how it mixed with the contemporary side of things. The characters are fantastic with Gottie’s family (including her late grandfather) being authentic, eccentric and wonderful to read. I loved Gottie’s geekness (a main character with a passion for mathematics? How awesome is that?!) and her relationship with Thomas was a pleasure to read. Plus – he bakes! This is a book which left me with a pastry and cake craving!

Overall, The Square Root of Summer is a lovely read. It’s beautifully written albeit slightly confusing at times. The characters grow over the course of the novel and despite me not being completely sure just what happened at the end I know that I was satisfied by where Gottie found herself in the end.


Note: If I could I would award bonus points for a GORGEOUS Cover and one of the cutest cat names ever, Umlaut!


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