Title: The Square Root of Summer
Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date: May 5th 2015
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 goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.