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The Square Root of Summer

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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.

With time travel, quantum physics, and sweeping romance, The Square Root of Summer is an exponentially enthralling story about love, loss, and trying to figure it all out, from stunning debut YA voice, Harriet Reuter Hapgood.

295 pages, Hardcover

First published May 3, 2016

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About the author

Harriet Reuter Hapgood

5 books228 followers
Harriet Reuter Hapgood is the author of THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER and HOW TO BE LUMINOUS. 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. Her surname is Reuter Hapgood, not Hapgood, and she will go ahead and realphabetise her books in your home or bookshop if you file her under H.

Follow her on Twitter: @hapgoodness and on Instagram: @hapgoodness if you like pictures of tacos and gardens.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 847 reviews
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,321 followers
July 31, 2016
“Yes, and imagine a world where there were no hypothetical situations.”

----Jasper Fforde

Harriet Reuter Hapgood, an English author, pens a heart-touching yet an analytical debut young adult book, The Square Root of Summer that revolves around a teenage girl who has gone through a lot of grief in her life and right when she is suffering from the heart break of last summer, her long time ago ex-friend cum ex-neighbor lands up in her life, with more love life drama, that forces this young lady to jump from one timeline of her past to another to make a connection and revelation of her definition about life and complicated relationships.


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.

On the summer holidays, Gottie, a German 17 year old teenager who is a mathematics and physics freak, comes face to face with her ex-friend-cum-ex-neighbor, Thomas, who has arrived with his mother in her house following a divorce. Although Gottie is yet to recover from the heart break as well as sorrow over losing her first love and her dearest grandfather from last summer. Gottie is trying to deal with her life long grief over losing her mother at a tender age to losing her boyfriend (s) to losing her grandpa, by equating with laws of physics and mathematics to deviate a possible way to time travel to the days when she lost her old friend and her mother and her grandfather.

I was hoping to DNF the book, anyhow, yet I managed to read it somehow. Gosh, I went through a twisted roller coaster ride of physics and maths laws' mumbo-jumbo, which are a) not at all logically denoted into the story line, except it's basic definition jotted down straight from a physics book, b) the indications are usage of those laws are way too much that mars the charm of the basic story line running in the background. Even the book fails from the intellectual POV, everything almost goes over the head, the events and scenes jumps randomly without any justification, thereby leaving a tendency to make the readers feel lost and clueless.

The author's writing style is good, but it could have been more structured. The narrative is completely boring in strong, bold and capital letters, moreover, it isn't free-flowing or smooth, thereby making the readers feel lose interest from the dialogues. Although the dialogues are often inspired from German dialect along with its proper translation, so that's the part, where the dialogues don't disappoint the readers. The pacing is very much slow, more like, the story moves at a snail's pace, as the story line jumps time line often and without any prior warning.

The book falls in the contemporary romance genre, but honestly speaking, there was no romance at all. The book also lacks from emotions that can either move the readers or make the story interesting. The relationships between the characters are also not properly depicted, even the friendships between two characters suck a lot.

The characters are, on the other hand, bit well developed. From the main character to the secondary ones, all had a touch of multi dimensional traits in them, with a dash of realism, thereby making them look striking in the eyes of the readers. But going through the mind of a 17 year old science crazy teenager turned out to be quite heavy handed for me.

In a nutshell, I would not recommend this book to anyone.

Verdict: Not a quality story.
Profile Image for annelitterarum.
178 reviews1,342 followers
July 16, 2021
Assez quelconque, se lit vite malgré tout et une fin plutôt satisfaisante. Attention personnage principal « im not like most girls💓💆‍♀️🥰 »
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews201 followers
February 22, 2019
Gottie has barely spoken in nearly a year, since her grandfather Grey died unexpectedly. Not that anyone has noticed her silence much. Her brother Ned has gone away to college, along with his best friend, Jason, the boy with whom Gottie had her first love affair just before Grey's death. Her father minds his own business, running the family bookstore while Gottie goes to school and puts her energy into her physics and math homework. Her best friend is in the arts program, and easily dodged. But now that summer has come around, Ned and Jason return home, along with another boy -- Thomas, Gottie's near twin and closest friend until his family moved to Canada five years ago and they lost touch. All the emotions she's been avoiding come crashing together, forming ... cosmic wormholes?
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Gottie has a strong and interesting voice that kept me reading, and I liked the natural-feeling winding of cosmology into this story. The pacing was very good, as the story is seeded with little mysteries about Gottie's relationships, things she doesn't want to tell/share (she's not the most reliable narrator in some ways), but which the reader knows will have to come to a head and be revealed before everything in Gottie's world can even begin to approach being okay.

This story captures the sense of displacement and unreality of complicated grief accurately and brilliantly. So in that sense, it might have spoken to me more than it would to someone who hasn't been through a similar experience. But despite the grief that underlies the plot, the book is full of peeks of light and hope, and is overall optimistic.

One thing I can't decide is, were the wormholes "real," or just a really good metaphor for how grief can keep pulling a person back in time, or in circles around an event? And does it really matter to this story whether they were real, or not?

The biggest compliment I can give this book is, my Teen Self would have loved it, with its focus on cosmology and time travel and relativity. It would have fed my imagination for the rest of my life. This was a great mix of science fiction with a strong contemporary YA story.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,005 reviews1,050 followers
July 7, 2020
3.5 stars

I find this really a really unique and refreshing YA contemporary. It's cute and geeky and science-y. There is actual science fiction involved, the kind that has something to do with wormholes, time travel, time loop, and the likes. That's about where my brain stopped processing. Lol.

But basically from my meager comprehension, time and space seem to be getting wonky on Morgan. Like time passes her by literally. One moment she's here, in a blink of an eye she's elsewhere and this sort of ability (I'm not even sure if ability is the right term, maybe achievement or accident or maybe everything is really just her imagination?) is fueled by her overwhelming grief, for her one of a kind gramps who died a year ago, for her mom who passed away when she was still so little, for her dad who seems just floating around because he is also grieving in his way, for the boyfriend that never was, and for the best friend who is really more.

I really liked the little drawings (of course all related to math/physics) almost on every chapter and I won't pretend to understand all those theories and equations, I barely passed my college physics (even though I'm a self-professed dork), but the entire story is enjoyable just the same, very touching too to be honest. Also, I'm not a fan of ambiguity, but in this book it kind of makes me want to embrace it. I bet this is going to make an incredible movie.
Profile Image for Maddie.
557 reviews1,136 followers
March 26, 2016
The word I'd use to describe this book is confusing. One moment, I thought I understood it and the next minute, I didn't. The romance was good-ish, and I appreciated that Gottie was interested in STEM subjects but the execution was as wibbly as the timeline!
Profile Image for Heidi Heilig.
Author 9 books1,315 followers
January 1, 2016
Time travel and physics and heartbreak and stars.

In THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER, our mathy heroine, Gottie, finds herself jumping back and forth through time in the summer after her grandfather's death. As she unravels the reasons behind her chronological challenges, the secrets of last summer's heartbreaks unfold, as does a wonderful new (old) love story. This novel is beautifully literary, with striking, memorable characters and gorgeous prose. It's winter here but I was drunk on love and summer and that feeling you get when you're in love and in August and time slows to a standstill. I might in fact have stepped into a wormhole while reading this book because I swear I started reading and when I glanced up, 2 hours had passed.

Just an excellent book on every level. Highly recommended for anyone, but especially for science/math geeks and fans of romance and/or time travel.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,854 reviews1,047 followers
December 14, 2016
Initial reaction: That was lovely, more than I thought it would turn out to be. There's a huge curve to get into this book, however, and I had issues with how the narrative chose to pace itself. But I ended up enjoying the read.

Full review:

"The Square Root of Summer" is definitely a book that spoke to my science/math-loving/geekish contemporary heart, at the very least in the idea behind the novel. Gottie is a young woman who has a lot of things happening in her life at once: dealing with the death of her grandfather, the changes in her relationship with her "secret" boyfriend, the changes in her relationship with her brother, and the return of a childhood friend who just so happens to be moving into the room that once belonged to her grandfather. At the same time, she realizes that things are becoming weird in her realm in other areas - like the fact that she sees wormholes and can travel to separate spaces of time/alternate realities. I honestly think it was a really cool idea to blend a coming of age, grief, and romantic story with aspects of speculative fiction/physics/science. I haven't quite seen a story like "The Square Root of Summer" in the way that it was presented for theme. It definitely excited me with the notes of time-travel and scientific theory to boot. You could also say that the time jumps and alternate parallels that Gottie experiences are representations of her lines of thinking, emotional distance, and grief over the many changes that she goes through in the course of the book, ultimately culminating with how she comes to terms with it all.

However, I wasn't completely sold on how this novel chose to execute the story. While the narrative has beautiful turns of writing and showcases excellent character detail, the actual execution of the novel isn't paced well for what it chooses to show - a slow burn that never quite matches up to its ambitious aim. It took me a much longer time to get through this book than I felt I should've had. The issue for me wasn't just the science portions of the story. You can make science and physics concepts fun and easy to understand in a narrative, and it wasn't that I didn't understand the aim for function as it was that I didn't understand the means, if that makes sense. (i.e. For the longest time I wondered exactly what these loopholes were and why they were there, but the story took its fair time working up to that point, never fully giving anything but vague musings of Gottie's experiences.) While Gottie kept getting lost in her musings as to why she was going through what she went through, there were turns of the narrative that felt weighed down by the dissemination of these factors in addition to the jumping timelines. I have no doubt that's why this narrative may end up losing many a reader despite the appeal of the story.

The thing that I took away from the story the most was Gottie's grieving process, which I thought was beautifully done through the narrative. Whether it was dealing the loss of her grandfather and other people in her life, the personal relationships that were made and broken in spells by her actions or inactions, everything Gottie did was vivid to me. Gottie was a dimensional character that I could identify with - if not for her decisions, most certainly with her grief and coming to terms. The characters were complicated and complex in their interactions through the novel. It helped that the audiobook had a wonderful narrator to boot (I ended up switching from the physical narrative to audio - you may lose the cute graphics the print version offers, but the performance Katy Sobey gives is wonderful).

I wish that the narrative had been smoother for translation, because it's a beautiful story - just bogged down more than it really should've been. A good read, but cumbersome in its execution.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,162 followers
June 1, 2016
Rating: DNF

I read more than half of The Square Root of Summer before declaring that I was fed up. Perhaps surprisingly, I actually really enjoyed this novel. Hapgood's debut is beautifully written, this small village coming alive with her prose as Gottie, our protagonist, struggles to breath with the sorrow sitting on her heart. Whether it be her grief over her grandfather's recent death, not even a year ago, or it be the ache she feels at remembering Jason, her first love who kept her a secret and discarded her just as easily, Gottie is lost. Thomas, her childhood best friend, is moving back and Gottie is left feeling the absence of everything in her life--her lack of a mother, her lack of a grandfather, her lack of a boyfriend, her lack of a best friend. Thus, when she begins to see wormholes and loses hours of time to falling back through her own memories, she finally has a mystery she can solve. Or can she?

I think the most difficult aspect of this book is the science-fiction elements. I want to make one thing very clear, though: I am a math major and this book isn't "for" math people. I've seen a lot of readers dismiss this because the physics goes over their heads (it did for me too!) and the math was just too hard. Well, here's the thing: you don't need to understand any of the science behind this. Gottie is a genius, gifted with natural talent when it comes to understanding physics and astrophysics. But while she theorizes and attempts to figure out why her flashbacks cause her to fall back in time and lose hours of time in her present-day, we merely need to follow along for the journey. And this is difficult. It's difficult because we want answers and we're confused while Gottie is grieving and is more willing to accept what is happening to her, not to mention dive headfirst into these wormholes.

But, it's also exhausting. I just wanted to read Gottie's story. I wanted her to grow and leave Jason behind. I wanted her to fall in love with Thomas. I wanted her to make new friends. I wanted her to re-patch her relationship with her brother. I wanted her grief to ease. And all of these things do happen, but they happen alongside a whole dose of crazy where Gottie will fall into a wormhole part way through a conversation only to find out a few chapters later that in addition to the wormholes (which are basically just flashbacks) there are also multiple timelines of alternate universes and they, too, are converging. It was just too much. The science-fiction elements interrupt an otherwise intriguing story and I wish Hapgood had simply written a contemporary novel about a girl with a passion for physics who used that to help her cope with her grief.

Anyway, I didn't finish this. I grew tired of having to constantly read through new theories and deal with Gottie when I just wanted to be there with her, dealing with her life and not her head. I'm not sure who I would recommend this for. Perhaps readers who don't need answers quickly, who are patient, and who can ignore a lot of jargon they don't understand. I definitely plan on picking up whatever Hapgood writes next--I just hope it's more accessible and rewarding than this debut.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,730 reviews4,082 followers
May 19, 2016
As I'm only an occasional, and very picky, reader of YA and children's books, I feel they have to work extra hard to impress me. Unlike so many others, The Square Root of Summer not only impressed me, but surpassed any and all expectations I could have had: it's not just a decent YA novel, it's a fantastic concept and a warm, heartfelt story that works well for any audience. I also liked the way it sidestepped so many of the paths I'd expect a book like this to go down: main character Gottie is science-obsessed rather than bookish; she's average in many respects instead of being your typical special-snowflake YA heroine who's amazing in every way; she's a brilliant student but knows nothing about, for example, music, and she's happy in her small and unremarkable home town. She is, happily, a believable teenager, a thing that's much rarer than it should be in novels for both adults and kids.

Gottie is relatable, but her life comes with just enough touches of everyday magic to hit that aspirational sweet spot. The loveably eccentric family, bacchanalian parties, beach hangouts and cosy country bookshop all made me long for the endless summers of adolescence. Her relationship woes are nicely done (when I was the exact same age as her I had a relationship with a boy who wouldn't acknowledge me in public, so the Jason storyline traced over old, old wounds) but it's her grief for beloved grandfather Grey that really hits home, really makes Gottie's characterisation sing. And that's without even mentioning the fantasy bits - they're great, and they make The Square Root of Summer read like a junior version of Scarlett Thomas's The End of Mr. Y.

I felt bereft when I parted from Gottie and co, and the ending made me cry on a train. A lovely, heart-melting book.
Profile Image for Eliza Makoto (Cartas a Eliza).
188 reviews27 followers
June 22, 2018
inteligente, divertido, una protagonista genio derrumbada y un caos universal, he disfrutado mucho esta lectura, la manera en que nos habla de los agujeros de gusano es fascinante
Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
500 reviews1,548 followers
June 15, 2016
I adore the cover for The Square Root of Summer – we have a huge poster of it in our flat! And in The Square Root of Summer, Harriet does an excellent job of combining time travel, science and romance (complete with little diagrams because physics = difficult).

It's been a year since Gottie's life changed; when her grandfather died and the boy she fell in love with stopped being the boy she fell in love with (aka the boy I dislike intensely). But it's a new summer, involving the return of her former best friend Thomas (aka the boy who bakes); changing friendships; new experiences; and travels through the space-time continuum - flashbacks to recent poignant moments in her life.

I particularly felt for Gottie as she grieved for her grandfather, Grey. It's not the sort of relationship we often see in young adult novels, but it's clearly the one that had the most influence on Gottie. He clearly helped shape who she is, from her disinterest in technology (her grandfather owned a dusty old bookshop) to her knowledge of German phrases. But the friendship-turned-romance in the story is also slow-burning and wonderful.

The Square Root of Summer is beautifully written and the inclusion of maths/physics was a fun way of representing Gottie trying to work herself out, too. It made a refreshing change from all the American YA contemporary novels I always curl up with!

Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,231 followers
May 11, 2016
An ARC of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

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:
Profile Image for Tiff.
568 reviews539 followers
August 25, 2016
Review originally posted on Mostly YA Lit:
Square Root Summer Blog Tour banner

Hi guys, today I'm excited to be part of the Canadian Blog Tour for The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood. This is a really unusual young adult novel, chock full of science and heartbreak, but with beautiful and quirky writing. Read on for a short Q&A with Harriet (about Dawson's Creek, because Harriet did her Ph.D on it!), and then my review!

interview banner mostly ya lit
Who is your favorite Dawson's Creek character and why?
Harriet Reuter Hapgood author photoHarriet Reuter Hapgood: Jen Lindley. Without question. I loved her from the get-go. She had such an awful time of it – sexualized way too young, banished by her parents to live with a grandmother who didn’t get her, at first, her grandfather dies, then her only friends are, like, Dawson Leery?! And he tries to SECRETLY FILM THEIR FIRST KISS. And Joey is so resentful and mean to her, and the only person who’s nice is Abby, who’s awful and dies. Hers is just a sad story, and then the writers completely sidelined her once the show became the Joey And Pacey Love Story. Many of her emotional beats in later seasons, like her parents’ divorce or her best friend Jack’s depression, are told in Joey voiceover or montage. I just really identify with a character who describes herself as “I come from a small town, I live with my grandma, and I like to knit”. She’s soulful and broken and gradually comes into her own and gains agency and happiness, and I am still so mad they killed her! [Editor's note: Yeah, I feel you, Harriet. Jen deserved better!

Profile Image for Jano.
605 reviews356 followers
January 15, 2018
Reseña completa en: http://elcaosliterario.blogspot.com.e...

En este debut literario de la autora, se mezcla lo contemporáneo con la ciencia ficción (viajes en el tiempo). Las ecuaciones matemáticas y las teorías científicas proporcionan los conocimientos básicos suficientes para poder entender la pasión de Gottie por estas áreas y dejar que ella siguiera un viaje nada forzado.

Me gusta cómo Gottie explica al lector las teorías, aunque incluso ella no entendía lo que estaba pasando. Durante gran parte del tiempo me sentí un poco perdido. En parte es normal porque es algo complicado de entender, pero el libro invita a dejar volar la imaginación y la autora ha logrado que el lector normalice los viajes temporales.

Todos los personajes me gustaron con sus particularidades pero Gottie, concretamente, creo que está muy bien definida como personaje y muestra sus puntos más débiles y fortalezas a lo largo de la historia. Por sus circunstancias es una joven con la que cualquiera podría sentirte identificado. El dolor de Gottie por la pérdida de su abuelo es algo que logra traspasar las páginas y tener vida propia. He empatizado mucho con la protagonista y su sencillez a la hora de expresarse, teniendo sus emociones muy presentes pero que, a su vez, en ningún momento entorpecen la lectura.

En resumen, una novela que combina realismo contemporáneo y ciencia ficción de una manera natural. Una protagonista que tocará la fibra sensible de todos aquellos que alguna vez se les rompió el corazón o sufrieron una tragedia.
Profile Image for Bee.
430 reviews860 followers
May 24, 2016
This book was written in a really interesting way but it was oh so confusing! The timeline jumps around a lot and even by the end I don't think I really understood what was happening. I did love the drawings and diagrams, though - it was reminiscent of the extra media in Everything Everything!
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,323 reviews1,013 followers
December 13, 2015
The Square Root of Summer is a fabulous debut from Harriet Reuter Hapgood, it's a story about first love, friendships, family, grief and heartbreak and how a death in the family can have such an incredibly huge impact on every aspect of your life.

Last summer Gottie's life was pretty perfect, she was falling in love for the first time, her family was all together and she had a great set of friends but it all fell apart when her grandfather died. With the rock of the family gone her grandfather's death left Gottie, her father and her brother all devastated and while they were struggling to deal with their own grief they lost their connection to each other. If that wasn't bad enough the boy she was in love with walked out of her life at the same time and Gottie was left completely adrift. Now, a year on, Gottie is still struggling to cope, she misses her grandfather but she also misses her friends and what's left of her family because she's been so busy just trying to get through each day that she's pushed everyone away.

This story is beautiful, I loved the way it looks at grief and how it really shows the effect that it had on the entire family. Gottie's grandfather Grey is a huge part of the story even though he's no longer with them and I loved the words of wisdom that Gottie would remember every time she thought of him. I also really enjoyed the relationship Gottie had with her brother, even though he's slightly older than her they've always been close and him leaving to start university just made everything that much harder for Gottie to deal with. All of the friendships and relationships in this book just felt so real, Grey's death didn't just effect their family but had a wider impact because he was such a focal point for everyone he came into contact with. Gottie's best friend Sof has tried so hard to be a good friend but she was upset too and she's tired of being pushed away and ignored, it was heartbreaking to see how far apart the girls were but I loved seeing them rebuild their friendship.

Most of the story has a very contemporary coming of age feel to it but Gottie is a bit of a science geek and she sees the world in terms of numbers and physics equations which I really loved about her. Throughout the story we see regular flashbacks where Gottie feels like she keeps being pulled into wormholes and sucked back in time to the previous summer. It's up to the reader to decide whether she really has found a way to time travel or whether it's her way of coping with the memories that she is so desperately trying to avoid. I loved the ambiguity of it and the way Gottie tries so hard to explain what is happening to her in scientific terms when in reality it's just her brain's way of trying to process everything that happened.

I feel like I could rave on about this book for ages but I don't want to give away the entire plot so I'll stop here. I will say if you're looking for a quintessentially British story set in a sleepy Norfolk village in the height of summer then The Square Root of Summer is perfect. It's a heart warming and funny story about coping with death and finding a way to move forward and I loved every minute of it.
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,095 reviews10.9k followers
April 2, 2016
4.25-4.5 stars. What an excellent read! I don't profess to be any more knowledgeable about space and time, and how physics is used to theorize about it, but I loved how that was incorporated into it. It's clever! I also just found Gottie was easy to relate to, and her narration easy to fall into it. Really enjoyed it!
Profile Image for Robin Stevens.
Author 49 books2,027 followers
February 28, 2016
This is a book that I fell in love with when it was still a first draft. I couldn't wait to reread its finished version, and am delighted to report that it's even more thoughtful, clever and sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic this time around. Harriet's prose is incredible, and the story she's telling is bittersweet and absolutely wonderful. Honestly, I think this is a classic in the making.
Profile Image for Cody.
201 reviews629 followers
March 13, 2016
Such a fun book you guys, a great blend of real and alternative worlds/times. I actually learned some physics from this book, I never thought I'd see the day I would say that hahaha. *Review to come*
Profile Image for Léá.
207 reviews37 followers
May 7, 2022

I have to admit, I am more than a little impressed. I really, really enjoyed this strange little book. There is something altogether compelling about a contemporary that weaves a science fiction element into the story telling. And WOW, the story telling in this book is just beautiful. The author has managed to craft something incredibly powerful and poignant, but also unique and intriguing. The Square Root of Summer is such a heartfelt and honest exploration of what it means to love and what it means to lose, in all the many and varied forms – from friendships to relationships to family – that love comes. This is a book that, at its core, is about dealing with grief, examining the ways in which heartbreak fractures and changes us into a different person, reshaping from the ashes an individual that is completely different to the one that came before. This is a book about first times and new beginnings, growing up and changing, holding onto and losing little pieces of yourself and finding new versions in the choices that you make. This is a book about constellations of plastic stars and an entire universe of memories that can fit into a time capsule.

Intrigued yet?

Honestly, if you are a fan of young adult contemporaries then I strongly suggest you add this to your TBR. This is one of those books that will stick with you well past the last page; honest and raw and emotional but also uplifting and filled with hope. The Square Root of Summer has this beautifully tranquil quality to the writing – all summer holidays and nostalgia, first kisses and friendship, skinny dipping and sea salt, dusty bookshelves and honeysuckle – making this an easy book to devour in a single sitting.

There is something incredibly atmospheric about this story that just draws you into the world, creating this quiet but commanding place in which the author allows you contemplate the underlying ideas that really gives this book its strength and resonance. The story flows effortlessly, making it compulsively readable, and the characterisation is very well done. Gottie is a truly touching protagonist, feisty and smart but also vulnerable and flawed. I adored the romance, which was honestly just so sweet and touching.

While I am the first to admit that the physics and mathematical elements of this story may not be to everyone’s tastes, I found them really interesting and intriguing. The time travel component really elevated the story to another level, shaping it into something much bolder than it would have been otherwise, a powerful backdrop upon which to explore the deepest and most poignant parts of the human experience. I suspect though these elements will be polarising and the complexity does make the story a little confusing to follow at times.

There were a few odd gender related things that I wish had been addressed in a different way, but I was able to overlook these for the most part.

On the whole the beautifully vivid writing, clever concept and exquisite complexity of this novel will definitely keep you turning the page. I have little doubt that this book will appeal to fans of contemporary works by the likes of Sarah Dessen, as well as readers who enjoyed books like We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson or Yellow by Megan Jacobson.

4.5 brilliant stars
Profile Image for Vilma.
596 reviews2,881 followers
April 27, 2016
A clever and compelling story of love, loss and resilience.

When seventeen year old math savant Gottie H. Oppenheimer starts losing time, she never imagined she’d be traveling through wormholes back and forth between her past to re-live her most heartbreaking moments. Time jerks between past and present as she’s sucked into the true dark matter of her life.

I believe in love on a Big Bang scale.

Over the past several years, she’d lost her mother, her best friend, her heart and just in the past year, her grandfather. Life had lost its luster as grief dulled her own identity. Slowly she’d pulled back from her family and friends, but when her former love and her childhood best friend come barreling back into her life, she’s forced to confront her own heartache.

Unbeknownst to everyone, the previous year she’d given her heart to her brother’s best friend, Jason. Their relationship had been a secret, a surprise, a wonderful thing that splintered to pieces when the summer ended, marked by the death of Grey—her larger-than-life grandfather.

Jason is back for the summer with her brother Ned, opening up the wound which had never really healed. Worse yet, she discovers her childhood best friend, Thomas, was coming back after years of not writing, years of leaving her behind when they were supposed to be forever.

Thomas-and-Gottie were inseparable, trouble times two, an el weirdo club of only us. Until he left.

When her world suddenly begins to “screenwipe,” she finds herself inexplicably reliving whispered promises with Thomas, stolen kisses with Jason. Impossible at it may seem, the physics of spacetime becomes reality as her universe contracts and expands to give her new insight on herself and those she loves. But could re-living the past alter the course of the future? Could she find a way past the hurt she’d been internalizing for so long?

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

With wormholes, black holes and leaps across timelines, this is an exciting, shouldn’t-miss debut with a fresh and enthralling time-travel twist.

Hasn’t it always been yes when it comes to us?

✦ ✦ ✦ ✦

Read an excerpt

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Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,418 followers
December 16, 2015
A physics time travel love story! Ever since I heard about this I’ve been dying to read it, so I was very lucky to get my hands on an early copy.

Gottie is going through a lot of heartbreak, from the death of the grandfather who raised her, to her kind-of boyfriend refusing to acknowledge their relationship and moving on without her. Over the course of a summer, she struggles to deal with this while trying to force herself to enjoy the kind of fun holiday she had last year. She fails miserably, even with the presence of old childhood friend and newly grown up hottie Thomas (BEST. LOVE. INTEREST. EVER.

On top of what is already an excellent contemporary YA storyline, Gottie keeps seeing snapshots of her past through wormholes. The time travel element is a great literary device to learn more about the distinctive and unique character (Gottie has one of the best voices I’ve read in YA) and it has a satisfyingly timey wimey ending for the sci fi fans reading.

It’s so great to see a lady scientist in YA, but I did have some issues with her mathematical ability, as someone who studied Physics to Masters level. It was a bit unrealistic to me - being good at maths =/= memorising pi to 100 digits, or being able to do superhuman mental arithmetic in your head. This is obviously something that most people won’t be bothered by, but it does worry me that teenagers reading will compare themselves to Gottie and think they aren’t clever enough to study maths or physics at uni, when in reality they could!Teenagers: you can and should study maths, it’s great. And there’s barely any mental arithmetic involved.

I loved, loved, loved all of the wormhole science though - and the gossip about scientists like Schrödinger - who one of my lecturers once described as having 'a lot of wives, most of them not his own' - had me giggling a lot It’s a fresh and unique type of contemporary YA that’s exactly my kind of thing.

I’m still thinking about Gottie and Thomas and Grey and Ned days later. The whole book is a joy to read, like Jandy Nelson meets The Accident Season. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,147 reviews153 followers
May 28, 2016
Final star rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars!

I would like to thank the publishers Pan Macmillian and the author Harriet Reuter Hapgood for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The Square Root of Summer is set in the seaside town of Holksea and follows the experiences and life of student Gottie who experiences some bereavement after her grandfather Grey passes away. The story takes place the summer after Grey's death in which Gottie looks back at the guy Jason who she fell in love with at Grey's funeral but this could prove distracting when an old friend Thomas moved back to the area after he originally moved out to Canada with his family.

I felt that the story title and plot looked incredibly interesting and for the first half of the book, I felt connected with the characters and could discover Gottie's obsession with wormholes and physics equations but by the second half of the book, I found the story pace to be a bit disjointed and felt that the physics equations that were frequently mentioned within the story took away a bit of the enjoyment I had from the first half of the book. I could predict what would happen at the end quite early on and felt a little disappointed after a lot of interesting things surrounding the characters within The Square Root of Summer.

I loved the whole premise with the time capsules. And now I feel more determined to make one of my own.

For any science lovers, this is the story for you. But my overall feelings at the end were mostly of disappointment. I would read more books by this author.

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Profile Image for Eri.
595 reviews175 followers
July 8, 2016
A tad messy but altogether a very enjoyable contemporary read. It's got a hefty dose of physics and relativity talk in it, so I'm not sure it's quite the book for everyone, especially those who don't enjoy sci-fi technical talk, but it did have a very sweet romance and poignant themes of grief and heartbreak.
Profile Image for Patricia Crowther.
472 reviews44 followers
May 15, 2016
"I know how to be without you. But life is so much more interesting with."

I couldn't put this down today, it intrigued me from the very first line and throughout. I loved the characters and the whole concept. I'll admit I probably didn't fully understand all the physics stuff but that really didn't matter. It was a great little read. I really enjoyed it. Perfect for a lazy Sunday!
Profile Image for Sinead.
582 reviews80 followers
September 1, 2016
3.5 stars!

This book made me so, so confused. Which is making writing this review very difficult. Because this book was well written but so confusing! I can’t even tell if I liked it or not. It was just… so maths-y. Just physics and wormholes and equations and time jumps… And coming from someone who despised maths with a passion in school, it’s hard to enjoy a book that had that much maths in it.

So what’s the story? Seventeen-year-old Gottie has spent the entire school year living in a shroud of mourning. The end of the previous summer brought the death of her grandfather Grey, who practically raised her after her mother died. Jason, her first love, left for college shortly after the funeral without a word of goodbye, along with her brother. Alone with her grieving father, Gottie retreated inside herself, refusing to communicate with anyone. Now, with the start of another summer holiday, her brother and Jason are back, and the best friend who disappeared from her life five years ago has suddenly returned. That best friend, Thomas, and Gottie were inseparable when they were twelve but five years of non-contact means Gottie doesn’t know how to feel about his returning. And with the one year anniversary of her grandfather’s death approaching, and the reappearance of so many important people in her life, Gottie starts retreating into her mind, and physics, suddenly reliving important moments of her past.

Yet despite the amount of maths and wormholes and reliving the past, this book also had cakes, and tea, and fun, well-rounded characters. It’s set in England, which is always a nice aesthetic change from American settings, or fantasy settings. The characters are German and use German phrases and foods. Always a nice change! Our main characters are human, aka not perfect. They're selfish, and rude, and don’t always say the right thing. But that just made them that much more relatable. Gottie is only seventeen; she’s not supposed to have all of life’s answers, despite how great she is at maths. Her brother was in a band which is cool, her best friend Thomas bakes and because of this I fell in love instantly. And Gottie is falling out of a friendship with another girl, which is not something that happens a lot in YA, at least for me. The main character nearly always has a best friend that she can rely on, and seeing Gottie attempt to mend this friendship but know that that awkwardness will never really clear was quite refreshing.

Despite this, however, it was still quite confusing. All the maths made question marks appear constantly around my head! Hells, if you enjoy maths and understand it, then read this and explain it to me, because I certainly don’t get it. This book also featured dealing with grief, and I would’ve liked more scenes with the grandfather so we could get a better feel of his character and so I could grieve along with the characters.

All in all, this book is both good and bad, thus the 3.5 stars when I normally don’t do halves. I really liked the characters, and the way the author dealt with death was really well done. I just think if the maths element was better explained so I wasn’t as confused, it would’ve brought the rating up to a solid four.
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