A carefully crafted and beautifully written debut novel, The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood is a magical, mathematical equation for love and life.
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.
A certain suspension of disbelief is required to make this book work, but if you’re willing to go for it — and Hapgood makes it easy to go for it — the result is a sweet and whimsical coming of age story. The Square Root of Summer features a quirky mathemetical/time travel twist on the “summer love story” trope, with Gottie supposedly falling through wormholes into moments from the previous summer. The moments all bring into laser sharp focus the issues Gottie is most grappling with: her beloved grandfather’s death, and her failed relationship with Jason. On top of all that, the childhood friend she never heard from after he moved to another country is back, and sparks are flying.
And while this book features an incredibly charming love story, that’s not the sole focus of the plot. Really the focus is on Gottie’s growing up story. So much in her life has changed, and she’s left floundering — trying to figure out who she is, what she wants, and where to go next in life.
The cast of characters in The Square Root of Summer are so wonderful — and as in life, these people are the glue that hold Gottie’s world together. Her musician brother Ned. Her absent-minded father. Her childhood BFF Thomas. Even her late grandfather, who we get to see in flashbacks and “wormholes” is so wholly realized. (And oh man, I can’t tell you how much I loved Grey! Seriously, he just sounds so great, and is such a fun, unique, and colorful character. I could read a whole book just about him!)
Quirky and quiet, The Square Root of Summer is the kind of book that sneaks up on you. You’re not sure where it’s going, until you get there — but the journey is the part that really matters. Look for it in stores now.
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