Review: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

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April 23, 2016 by Zoë

Spacetime around Gottie has become strange. She’s experiencing events that have already happened, and she’s not just remembering–they’re happening all over again. She’s slipping between parallel universes or…something. She needs to figure out what’s going on, both with spacetime and with the boy from next door who’s moved back home.

This book sounds like science fiction, but it isn’t really. It’s much more like magical realism. Strange things are happening, but the strange things aren’t the point. The point is what’s happening between the characters. Over the course of the book, Gottie struggles to come to terms with her grandfather’s death, her fraying relationship with her best friend, and the confusions that boys bring. It’s not a book about wormholes, except that it is because she keeps falling down them.

The concept is novel. The wormhole device makes for easy flashbacks that help weave the story together. Little threads from the flashbacks are picked up again in the present.

Nevertheless, the whole thing is a bit confusing. For a long time it’s hard to tell if Gottie is just exaggerating and is just falling into long tailspins of memory. It’s also confusing because it’s not really clear what’s causing the wormholes. The cause is sort of implied at the end of the book, but it has nothing to do with science despite the fact that Gottie spends the whole book trying to come up with an equation to explain the wormholes. That, however, may be the point: science has limitations; focus on your relationships.

Overall this was a fun little read with quirky characters. There is a love triangle and it isn’t at all compelling. There’s also a gay best fiend, which was sort of cool. And Judy Blume’s Forever gets mentioned a lot, which I liked for some reason.

Extra half a star for a unique premise.

“There’s no universe where he wasn’t going to break my heart.”

I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley.

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