Review: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Collaborative feature with Alexa. We read ARCs together and post our reviews on the same date.

The Square Root of Summer
by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
pub 5/3/16 by Roaring Brook Press
YA - Contemporary/Sci-fi
Received ARC from pub
It’s really hard to explain The Square Root of Summer and if I’m being completely honest, I don’t know if I completely understood it myself. And you know what? It didn't matter. What did matter was that I connected Gottie. I connected to her voice, her life and her inner ramblings as she thought about her grandfather Grey who passed away, new/old loves, friendships, and family. So I didn’t mind that Gottie often mentioned physics, wormholes and other scientific possibilities. To me, this book was about Gottie making sense of her world and the grief that’s been slowly but surely eating her up. That, more than anything, was the heart of the book.

In the present, Gottie is dealing with a lot. There’s the death of her grandfather Grey which is still affecting her. Her ex-love Jason is back in the picture but not in the way he used to be. Her childhood best friend Thomas has returned after years of no communication. And she’s learning to cope alongside her brother and father, who both want the best for her, even when she fights it. But everything going on, only serves as a reminder of the past. To the moment Grey died. To the stolen moments with Jason last summer. To childhood memories with Thomas. Soon the present and past are interweaving and Gottie doesn’t know if she’s actually traveling through time or losing her mind.

It’s a very unconventional way to tell this story of grief but it worked for me. Every new moment we saw, whether it was in the past or present, unveiled another part of Gottie that we needed to understand. She’s this deeply loving person and I related to the grief she felt over everything. And I think that’s why the science of it all didn’t make a difference to me because the characters and the emotions conveyed were so well done.

Do I recommend?
Yes! I’ve seen this book described as The Time Traveler’s Wife meets YA but I actually disagree. I think The Square Root of Summer stands on its own as something completely different. Definitely worth checking out.

If we were to create a time capsule of who we are right now,
what would I put in it?
In the book, Gottie and Thomas created a time capsule as kids, which is how we got the inspiration for this question. The idea is that the items you put in it would give you a good idea of who I am or what I love right now. I would probably add: How To Love by Katie Cotugno, my Paris coffee mug and my Amulet of Orynth necklace (except I would buy another to put in the box because I wouldn't actually want to part with mine!).


  1. This book sounds great, Rachel! Definitely going into my TBR :)

  2. God I loved this book. It was so well done and original and fun and smart. I agree with you about the math and science aspects being a little dense (especially to start) but I think the illustrations helped. I also really, really appreciated having a book where the main character was a girl very into math and science--we need more of those! I didn't expect to love this one but it's definitely a favorite read this year.

  3. I absolutely adored The Square Root of Summer! I thought it was just such an interesting take on grief, and I actually really liked the science stuff in it ;)


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