Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Title: The Square Root of Summer
Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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.

So, I thought I was getting a book about time travel, and what I got was a thoughtful story about grief and loss and friendship. I'm not complaining. Some of my favorite books deal with these subjects. I just wish there were some way to prepare other readers for this book...and to make them stick with it when the going gets tough because it's totally worth it in the end.

At around page 18, I was stuck and didn't know if I'd make it any further. Gottie is a whiz at physics and math and she thinks she's traveling through wormholes to the past, and that's all well and good because I love me some time travel. However, the detail with which Gottie explains black holes and wormholes and how one might travel through them is exhausting and thoroughly confusing. And I say that as someone who aced physics in high school. BUT, as I discovered by reading on, you really don't need to understand the science or math behind the phenomenon, only that this is what Gottie believes is happening to her.

Gottie has been grieving the death of her beloved grandfather for the last year or so. And to make matters worse, right after his passing, her first (and secret) love broke if off with her. She is heart-broken twice over and has shut herself off from the world.

Until the return of her best friend. Things are rough between them at first, with Gottie still feeling the sting of Thomas' betrayal when he moved away five years ago and never wrote to her, but they move past it and something sweet develops between them. For a time, it's almost as if those five years never happened.

The characters in this book are all kinds of quirky. As in, not a single one of them seems to conform to society's norms. And that's okay. It's just another thing that I could have let bother me in the beginning, if I hadn't kept reading to determine why everyone -- at least in Gottie's family -- was so kooky. To some extent, it's a coping mechanism, just as Gottie's fixation on the wormholes is her way of dealing with her loss.

I was really able to empathize with Gottie. I lost my grandmother when I was around the same age, and I always felt close to her. My gran was just about as zany and out of this world as Grey...and she also died of cancer. The constant reminders of my own loss made this a difficult read at times, but it was also a cathartic experience. You don't realize how much you bottle up, how much you keep inside, until it's all spilling out.

This was such a weird little book. For most, it will mean reading out of your comfort zone, either because of the science-y aspect or the tough subject matter. But the payoff -- even if you don't totally understand it at first -- makes the journey more than worthwhile.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Harriet Reuter Hapgood is a freelance fashion journalist and author of THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER (coming May 2016). Her first-ever professional writing credit was for Just Seventeen magazine, and she's been YA obsessed ever since. She likes burritos, cats, Gwyneth Paltrow and young adult fiction, which she plans to write more of, though she's also considering a PhD in Dawson’s Creek.

Find Harriet:

Website | Twitter | TumblrGoodreads | Pinterest | Instagram


  1. I loved this book! I loved the way she dealt with her grief by the elaborate scientific explanations, etc..

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    1. It was very different, I'll give it that. I just loved how she'd slip through a wormhole and into a memory. It was very clever and the grief was so genuine.

  2. I keep hearing great things about this book and originally wasn't too taken with the idea, but now I think I need to read it. Great review!

    1. I wasn't sure if I'd pick it up either, but then I kept seeing it around...kept hearing how lovely it was, and I had to read it myself. It really was quite a special book.


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