The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

by - September 20, 2017

By Christine Diampovisa

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

Gottie’s world starts to come undone as she is transported through wormholes to her past:
To last summer, when her grandfather, Grey, suddenly dies.

To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at Grey’s funeral.

To the day her childhood friend, Thomas, moved away, leaving her with a scar on her hand and a gap in her memory.
REVIEW – Based on the pretty cover and the intriguing title, I was excited to read The Square Root of Summer.  We’re introduced to Gottie, a teenage girl who is obsessed with mathematics, space and physics. For someone who scrapped through math and physics in high school, I was really confused when it came to the explanation of principles or diagrams relating to time travel and infinity. Really confused and slightly intrigued, I read on …

Gottie has had to deal with the death of her mother, who died after giving birth to her, the death of her grandfather (who was more like a father), her boyfriend Jason and her best friend Thomas. Her life of reclusiveness makes it easier for her to blend in the background (as easy as a five-foot-nine leaf), but makes it easy for her presence to go unnoticed. 

As the summer rolls around, Jason returns from college bringing back old feelings,
“My feet grow roots while I wait for him to stand up. To talk to me. To mend me.”

Summer also brings her best friend Thomas, who she hasn’t spoken to in the last five years. When Thomas left, a part of Gottie disappeared.

The book almost centres on Grey, even though he is no longer there, showing us just how much he meant to her. While dealing with the grief of Grey’s death, Gottie erstwhile best friend become estranged,

“The silence that rides between us all the way home is so heavy, it deserves its own bus ticket.”

We are going through the motions when suddenly Gottie starts leaping through time and space.  Going through the wormhole so unexpectedly leaves you feeling as dazed as Gottie. Wormhole surfing might seem unreal, but it takes you away from the real world. Leaving minutes, hours, maybe days unaccounted for.

The book is beautifully written with characters, whose lives are easily intertwined. Being of German descent (Gottie’s father), a few German words are used which add to the richness of the book.  The pace of the book felt very natural, nothing seemed rushed or slowed down even though we were travelling through space and time. Remarkable!

Going through the wormholes could have been a way for Gottie to relive the summer before everything changed, before Grey died and she got her heartbroken, to imagine what her life would be like if Thomas stayed and she never got involved with Thomas, to imagine a life where she never existed and killed her mother, to imagine a life where she still had friends and a sense of what life should be  … Sadly, these questions were not answered in a direct sense, but when you’re dealing with wormholes, time travelling and a summer where your past, present and future collide, what were you expecting?

“The universe is complicated”, is the perfect way to sum up this book: beautifully-written with well-developed characters, makes for an interesting read but leaves you so many questions.

* Book was given to me by PanMacMillan Publishing House in exchange for an honest review.

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