My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Publication Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Point of View: 1st Person Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Time-Travel, Romance, Family
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.
The big picture, the whole story, is just thousands of tiny stories, like a kaleidoscope.
If I was only allowed to use one word to describe this book, I would qualify it as ‘‘curious.’’ From the start, we’re thrown into the universe of a girl obsessed with space and physics and all the deviations. Gottie lost so much: her mom who died when she was born, her grandfather who had cancer, her boyfriend and even her best friend, Thomas, who moved to Canada!
She never could fill the gap that was created inside her heart after all she’s lost, constantly feeling the void there. But that’s before her best friend’s parents get divorced and Gottie’s father invites Thomas to stay with them for the whole summer. Seeing Thomas again brings her joy and hope for a beautiful summer ahead of them, but she’s aware of the fact that neither of them bothered to keep contact, ever since they got separated.
It isn’t that clearly explained how and why Gottie first starts leaping through time and space… It just happens. I usually don’t mind magical things happening, but the truth is the author attributes Gottie’s time travels to some complicated and hard to vulgarize physics. Wormholes. Maybe a science geek would feel less confusion when reading this though. As for myself, I couldn’t quite understand it all.
It’s the last day of summer. Except it isn’t, not really. I’m here and I’m not here. This is the first time I’ve been here, but also isn’t. Déjà vu. I’m watching myself, inside myself. It’s a memory, it’s a dream, it’s a wormhole.
BUT, as I said, this book is curious. Even if the whole transportation through time made little sense to me, I liked that for once it’s not all about ‘‘magic.’’ The author really did try to find an explanation, the best she could, and it might not have convinced me, but it remains that the concept can appeal to a lot of sci-fi fans. I also found the pacing fitting, the writing pretty and the atmosphere lively.
There are quite a few characters in this book, and I liked how they each had their role to play – there are no plot holes! Gottie’s father is German so you’ll see him use a couple of uncomplicated words in that language when speaking. I thought it added some charm to the story and it made me think that I may not be taking German classes for nought after all. My favorite secondary character would be Gottie’s dad because of his wacky personality, but I also liked her grandfather whose replies and reactions resemble more the ones of a teenage boy than an elderly person. It keeps him young!
In sum, The Square Root of Summer is intriguing, beautifully-written, charming but very implausible (to me). I would also like to add that the cover is nothing but lovely!