The Square Root of Summer

The Square Root of Summer

Title: The Square Root of Summer

Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Series: N/A

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Release Date: May 5th 2015


Three Stars

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.

– Blurb courtesy of

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“It’s the last day of summer. Except it isn’t, not really. I’m here and I’m not here. This is the first time I’ve been here, but also isn’t. Déjà vu. I’m watching myself, inside myself. It’s a memory, it’s a dream, it’s a wormhole.”

After losing her grandfather, Grey the man who practically raised her and her brother Ned, last year Gottie feels lost. Last summer she didn’t just lose her grandfather but also her would-be boyfriend. Now it’s coming up on the one year anniversary and everything is changing. Ned seems determined to keep their grandfather’s memory alive, doing all the things Grey would have and hosting an end of summer party. Meanwhile Jason is back in town for the summer from university and the tension between him and Gottie is thick. Then Gottie’s father announces that Thomas is coming back to England and staying with them for the summer, in Grey’s room.

Years ago Thomas and Gottie were best friends, until he left for Canada and despite promising never wrote to Gottie. Now he’s back and bringing with him feelings Gottie thought were long dead, and there’s something else happening to her as well. Gottie is losing time, falling through wormholes back to last summer when Grey was alive and she was happy with Jason

“At their most basic level, wormholes are time machines, powered by dark matter and negative energy. And what’s darker than heartbreak?”

Thomas and Gottie start to become friends again, building on the relationship they had when they were children, but Thomas keeps referencing things Gottie has no memory of; the time capsule they hid when they were children and the email he sent her before travelling to England. The two ends of the Event Horizon are starting to meet, and the more Gottie sees of her past and of last summer the more she starts to understand about her grief and everything that happened since she lost Grey.

…The Characters

“After nearly a year of mourning, I feel like the Victorians when Edison came along—all those years in the darkness, and then electric light. I’ve got the earth between my toes.”

Gottie was a hard character for me to connect with at first. After losing her grandfather she became a shell of herself, closing off from her brother and her best friend. With the one-year anniversary approaching though she is forced to finally face some of the things she buried with her grandfather and the more she travels through the wormholes, the more she sees of her past, the more she starts opening up to the people she loves again.

The relationship between Gottie and Jason was a real first love relationship, and it was refreshing that even when Gottie’s relationship with and Thomas started to develop she didn’t deny what she and Jason had. Gottie was unapologetic about her past with someone else, it is part of who she is and she refused to apologise for loving someone before Thomas, and I loved that about her. Seeing her gradually open up as the story commences, gradually let go of Jason, grieve properly for Grey, and reconnect with Thomas and her family, was all wonderful to read; and by the end of this book I really loved Gottie’s character.

“What is it with you and time capsules?”
“I like the idea of a permanent record,” he explains. “Something to say, This Is Who I Am, even when I’m not that person anymore…”

Thomas was a major part of Gottie’s life when they were younger, but there were years between when neither of them were anything for each other, and as such it is hard for both of them to pick up where they left off. Thomas is the one who pushes Gottie past her boundaries and starts forcing her out into the open again, bringing life and colour back into her walls. However there were times when Thomas’s character felt a little flat to me. I loved his relationship with Gottie and his past with her and her family but it seemed like he wasn’t given much development as his own character.

There was a lot about his own family and his past in Canada that just seemed to be brushed under the rug a little. It was referenced to and hinted at but never really expanded on and I think at times it just felt like Thomas was an extension of Gottie’s character development rather than his own.

“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.”

The relationships in this book were one of my favourites parts; not just between Gottie and Thomas but between Gottie and her family, Gottie and Sof, and Gottie and Jason. All of them have that little bit of influence in shaping her into the character she is, and helping her back after she lost her way after Grey’s death. The relationship between Gottie and her family was powerful to read. After losing their grandfather Gottie and her brother Ned are both a little lost but in different ways; and now one year on Neal is trying to keep Grey’s memory alive and Gottie is determined to bottle everything up.

Even though he is dead Grey is still an influential character in this book. He has a very larger than life presence and a different way of looking at the world. We see him not only through his diaries which Gottie reads and through the wormholes she travels through into the past, but also in her’s and her father’s and her brother’s memories. The Square Root of Summer is a book about dealing with loss as much as it is dealing with love.

…The Setting

“The Uncertainty Principle states that you can know where a particle is, or you can know where it’s going, but you can’t know both at the same time. The same, it turns out, is true of people. And when you try, when you look too closely, you get the Observer Effect. By trying to work out what’s going on, you’re interfering with destiny. A particle can be in two places at once. A particle can interfere with its own past. It can have multiple futures, and multiple pasts. The universe is complicated.”

I will be the first to admit that maths is not my strong point. I am good with numbers but anything more complex than the times table I struggle to understand. There is a lot of equations and theorems in this book, explaining the wormholes and Gottie’s theories as she struggles to understand what is happened to her. It all seems very intellectual, and there are diagrams along the way to help us understand it, but it went over my head a little and the more Gottie understood the less I did. Now there are some books that make it work, when I read The Love That Split the World I never fully understood what happened but the characters, the writing and the story just made it work somehow. It didn’t work with The Square Root of Summer. By the end of the book I was lost and didn’t really get any answers.

The story is set in England, and it has all the charms of the small town where Gottie and her family live, but there is a taste of other cultures as well which was wonderful to read. Thomas brings with him all his experiences from Canada, and Gottie’s father’s German heritage has a very large influence in the family home.

Despite the confusing explanation as to the wormholes and the theories that made Gottie’s travel possible I did enjoy The Square Root of Summer. It was a quick read and a cute romance story between Gottie and Thomas, but what I enjoyed the most was seeing Gottie’s character development, and seeing her come to terms with everything that happened to her last summer.

What did you think of The Square Root of Summer? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

24 thoughts on “The Square Root of Summer

  1. Great review, Beth! I feel like I’ve been seeing this book everywhere but haven’t been interested in picking it up – magical realism is not generally my thing (with exceptions) and I think the maths thing would go over my head too. The flat characterisation would also bother me.

    Too bad you didn’t enjoy it as much as you could have – the premise seems interesting, and I’m digging the cover quite a bit. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Reg! 🙂 I was the opposite actually, I hadn’t seen much of this book around but it’s been on my to-read list for a while now, so I finally picked it up. I feel it was more a mix of sci-fi and comtemporary than magical realism, but I guess you could call it magical realism as well based on the plot, maybe a mixture of all three! 😀
      It seemed like the only character with decent development was Gottie, but it was the expense of all the other characters.
      Yeah that’s the thing, it’s a great concept but the story just fell flat for me, which is a shame.


      1. Ah yeah, fair enough! I just thought of stuff like the Bone Gap, which I haven’t read but sounds “weird” in a contemporary setting. 😂

        That happens so often! The main character is our focus, I guess, so often authors forget everyone else. It’s a shame – hope your next read is better. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well I think that’s a good way to describe magical realism, and Bone Gap, and The Square Root of Summer actually – ‘weird’ but in a contemporary setting. 😀
        Yeah because a lot of the time the main character is brilliant developed and it’s just a shame the same can’t be said of the secondary characters. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I, personally, found the book a bit too confusing and vague to follow along with. The moment I thought I knew what was going on, a few pages later I would end up confused all over again. I’m thinking I might revisit it later, re-read it again so my mind can fully wrap around the plot. I’m not too familiar with space, time travel, and sci-fi in general, so I’m thinking that’s probably why I was so confused. Anyways, great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, yeah I thought for the most part it was a good book but the maths did confuse me a lot and I can see how that could make the plot a litle confusing to follow with all the time jumps and everything.
      It may be helpful to re-read it, I wonder if I did the same thing I would understand the maths a little better. Oh see I love time travel and space and sci-fi so that probably helped me enjoy it a little more.
      Thanks 😀 I’m glad you liked my review! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen this book all over lately. It sounds really interesting. I’ll admit seeing square root in the name was the reason I didn’t pay it any mind. I’m not a fan of math either. Wormholes reminds of The Flash. But I can see how that could be a bit complicated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t actually seen it much before I picked it up, but I do agree it was an interesting book, and a really unique concept as well.
      I think though if you’re not a fan of maths then you’ll have the same issues with the book I did, it was way too complicated for me to follow. Huh, I never thought of that with The Flash, but then I’ve only seen season 1 so I’m a little behing 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, that’s probably my least favorite subject. I didn’t like An Abundance of Katherines because of all the equations. Yeah, The Flash starts to get confusing with wormholes and different times and all that scientific stuff. I’ll probably have the same issue with this book that you did.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I haven’t actually read An Abundance of Katherines, but now you mention there’s equations in it I’m not likely to pick it up. I’ll eventually watch the other seasons, maybe the fact that it’s a TV show means it’ll be easier for me to follow than a book. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. See I like John Green but I’m not a fan of maths at all so I think I’ll be giving that one a miss. I think The Square Root of Summer was a good test to discover that I cannot get into books which combine reading and maths!
        I’m feeling the need to re-watch it now, and then carry on to the seasons I haven’t gotten around to yet! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      4. When I started to see mathematical equations in the book, I just couldn’t do it anymore. And the MC was really boring. I like John Green’s writing, but I only liked TFIOS. Some bloggers have told me to read Looking for Alaska. I have the box set but I haven’t read it because I was so turned off by An Abundance of Katherines.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I don’t think there were too many mathematical equations in this book, it was more the theory that was talked about. But I doubt I’ll pick up an Abundance of Katherine’s, one book is too much maths for me. I’ve read TFIOS, one of my friends is obsessed with his books, and I’ve had Looking for Alaska recommended to me so maybe I’ll start with that one next! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yeah I’ve seen a few mixed reviews as well, still it was on my to-read list for a while so I picked it up. Even though it was a great story the character development of the secondary characters (basically everyone but Gottie) and the maths used just weren’t up to par. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was waiting for this review, and I have to admit I’m a bit sad to see you only gave it 3 stars. It’s too bad that some characters aren’t as developed, and maths confuse me at times as well…I’m scared to be confused once I read this book as well, now. That’s too bad though, the premise seemed so original. I might give it a try anyway, but I’m not that eager to get to it now :/ Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I have to admit I was a little disappointed in this book as well. The story itself was good don’t get me wrong but at times it felt like Gottie was the only character who actually got any proper development and the rest were just extensions of her character rather than their own (if that makes sense).
      The maths is explained well but I always have a hard time understanding anything too complicated. You may find it easier to follow but I felt like I needed a university degree in maths just to be able to keep up with some of the stuff that was thrown around.
      If you do decide to give this book a go I hope you do enjoy it, I think for me there were just too many things I couldn’t understand for me to rate it any higher 🙂
      Thanks 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes it definitely makes sense, and that’s too bad, I love a great set of characters and especially in a contemporary, it’s what holds the book…well that book isn’t completely contemporary, but well…
        I will definitely try reading this book anyway, I’m eager to see how I feel about it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I feel this book is more contemporary than anything else, and while the story was good the character building just really let it down, which like you said is a shame because the characters are one of the things that holds the book.
        I’d be interested to see what you think of this book if you do read it, hopefully you’ll enjoy it! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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