Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this review copy <3


Date Read: May 18-22 2016
Date Released: May 5th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary/Sci-fi
My Rating:

Note this review contains ranty spoilers.

"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."


Here’s a question that doesn’t require a physics degree to answer: what do you get when you combine space time theory with teenage romance? A recipe for disaster that’s what. The Square Root of Summer was one of the biggest jumbled messes I’ve ever read. Complete and utter chaos.

The premise is easy enough to understand – it’s the beginning of summer vacation for Gottie and everything is falling apart. The boy she had a fling with the previous summer is back, add that to the grief she’s still suffering from her grandfather, Grey’s, death and Grots is a bit all over the shop. Everything reminds her of last summer, and it’s grief and happiness colliding. Then her childhood friend returns to England and she’s got her anger at his returning to deal with too. What wasn’t necessary was the amount of science/maths used to drive the plot. Rather than memories, Gottie’s actually travelling back in time through wormholes. What the.

I liked Gottie’s character. She’s a mess of feelings and was very relatable. The father figure and person she looked up to in life has passed away and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. Little bits and pieces of her life before her grandfather’s death keep popping up and these are constant reminders of a much happier time and place. They drag her down and I could really feel how depressed she got. With the way she got lost in her thoughts I could tell she was spaced out a lot and this added to her character. I’m not sure of her character growth in terms of her awareness about the people around her, but she grows as a person in terms of understanding death and letting go.

The romance is cute. The love interest so obviously likes her and he does all these little things to please Gottie but she doesn’t realise it (as I said, she’s got her head in the clouds most of the time). I loved that he cooks and loves baking! I too would like a boyfriend who makes me delicious food (y’all know I love my food, especially desserts. I mean have you seen my Instagram? Ahem). He’s a bit geeky and very caring and observant. I totally shipped this. My only issue was that Gottie seemed so damn indecisive it was like she was giving him signals, stringing him along but didn’t realise it. I attribute that to her being so clueless!

My goodness the secondary characters were all so well layered and developed. Delightful people! Through Gottie’s ‘time leaps’(?) I could tell her grandfather was the life of the party. He was this totally hippie, new age dude who everybody loved. Then there’s Gottie’s brother Ned who’s in a band and comes home at dawn to puke in the grass and then fall asleep on the spot. Their seemingly absent-minded father who disappears into his own world a lot. Sof, Jason and Meg, the friends/ex-friends from a summer ago. Everybody was so different but take one character and put them with another and they’d have something in common – and Grey sort of brought everybody together too. Despite the, at times, messy relationships I liked that there were no real villains. There wasn’t the beautiful bitch or a really horrible guy. There were just a lot of misunderstandings and ok I do admit Jason was a bit of a prick. I liked that all the characters were there, Gottie just had to open her eyes.

By this point you’re probably wondering how bad the wormholes could have been to warrant this rating, given I liked Gottie, her feelings were portrayed realistically, I adored all the characters, and I thought the writing was beautiful and flowed nicely.

Oh my god the execution of the plot using quantum physics. Worst. Thing. Ever. I appreciate the effort Hapgood used to draw the diagrams to help the reader understand the theories. I’m also going to assume that the science behind it all is correct because it certainly sounded very scientific. And that’s where the problem lay. The way the science was used to drive the plot did not mesh well. It was a physics class one moment and then the next moment emotions and romance that didn’t connect with the physics. A lot of the book is Gottie going back to moments last summer and coming back to current time to realise hours have passed. But then she visits alternate realities and there’s like GAPS in the space around her. Like there’s an area in the sky that’s missing blue and in its place is outer space. WHAAAAT. I didn’t know what to believe, it was so disjointed. The going back and forth through the wormholes, then the idea of altering events in time. Thinking back, there was this moment in the book where it all happens and I was so confused, it’s like that part in Interstellar with the sand and the lines like what was even going on. I don’t know what she was doing, how she was changing stuff and how she was returning. And if you say quantum physics I will give you a blank look. The story really could have been better off without all the science. It would have been a perfectly swoony summer read with memories zzzzz. Then the ending happened and I was mega confused, like did she fix everything? Did anything need fixing? Was it just her feelings? It seemed like it. I DON'T KNOW lelelel.

Tl;dr I did not understand the plot and how we got to the end and thus I did not feel like I read a complete book ha.

Did this review make sense? Are you as confused as I am? Well that’s how I felt reading this book. Send help. Actually, send me a brain. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t enjoy this.


  1. I felt exactly the same way! I really liked the characters basic plot with the romance and all, but when it got down to all the Physics I was just completely confused. I just didn't understand it at all.

    Lauren @ My Expanding Bookshelf

    1. Omg it's such a relief to know I'm not the only one! I am not a sciencey person at all bleh.