Buy The Square Root of Summer
Special price $15.51 Regular price: $15.67 ($20.50 CDN)
Publisher: Roaring Brook / Raincoast Books
Reviewer: Melissa on May 19, 2016
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve. It’s a little like a black hole. It’s a little like infinity.
In Harriet Reuter Hapgood‘s The Square Root of Summer, Gottie H. Oppenheimer is…Seventeen. Motherless. A math genius. And she’s losing time…literally. When the fabric of the universe surrounding Gottie’s small, seaside, English town begins to fray, she is sent hurtling 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 childhood best friend Thomas moved to Canada, leaving her behind with a scar on her head and a black hole in her memory. Grey is still gone, but this summer, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide – and be forever changed.
When I first heard about The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood at the Raincoast TeenReads Winter 2016 event last fall, I immediately added it to my Goodreads TBR. The publicists referred to it as a YA version of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is one of my all-time favorite novels, but what really sealed the deal was hearing that the author wrote her MA dissertation on Dawson’s Creek, one of my all-time favorite shows. Even though I don’t believe that the comparison to The Time Traveler’s Wife is accurate because it isn’t as much a tragic love story and tearjerker as a book about a young girl who has to come to terms with her grief over her grandfather and the sudden loss of Jason in her life and find a way to live in the present…even when it’s difficult, I still am happy I read this novel.
One of my favorite parts of the novel was the highly-developed character of Gottie herself. She is a strong, intelligent young woman, who – from my non-STEM perspective – would be a great example of what teen girls could attempt to achieve in either math or physics. In a world where more teen girls are pursuing STEM fields, it’s so important for them to have an example not just of someone who is the star pupil in her small town, but who is developing a concept in advanced theoretical physics that surpasses both this reader’s and her teacher’s understanding about wormholes. Beyond these basic things about her character, I also kind of loved her capacity to remember the past and imagine the future or move through time in the language of the book is incredible, even though staying in the present would be preferable in the long run. I mean, the way that she is right there with all the things she saw, smelt, felt, and heard when her past was the present makes her ability to time travel through wormholes realistic.
While it seemed realistic to me…despite being part fantasy…I had a hard time reading this novel. I wasn’t reading much when I started this book, so that’s part of the reason that it took me 10 days to read The Square Root of Summer, but it’s not the only one. The other part was despite the amazing characters and many beautiful turns of phrase, I felt lost a lot of the time while reading this book. I think that is more a condition of not having taken physics at all in high school or beyond than anything to do with the book itself. I can’t say whether other people who only took biology and chemistry would feel the same way, but ultimately, it made it impossible for me to love this novel, no matter how much I wanted to do so.
The Square Root of Summer is a moving, coming of age portrait of a young woman who learns that living in the present, even when it’s not easy, is more important than living in the past.
Buy The Square Root of Summer for a great price!
One-Question Interview with Harriet Reuter Hapgood:
YABookShelf: If you were able to slip through wormholes like Margot, where and when would you love to
travel to whether in your own lifetime or not?
Harriet Reuter Hapgood: I wouldn’t ever choose to travel to somewhere on my own life path – I don’t think
you’d ever gain anything from trying to literally revisit or rework your past; the
mistakes we make and the choices we make are necessary to who we become. I am a huge
Elvis fan so travelling back to 1960s Memphis and hanging out at Graceland would be cool.
But I’ve also read enough sci-fi to be too terrified to actually do it – the fear of
changing history totally by changing one tiny thing, of causing a domino effect across
time… For me, The Square Root of Summer is about learning to live in the present –
not to dwell on the past or be afraid of the future, but to be conscious and aware that
your life is right here, right now.