The Square Root of Summer Review: I Fell into a Wormhole of Confusion

June 1, 2016 by Jenna | 3 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

The Square Root of Summer Review: I Fell into a Wormhole of ConfusionThe Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on May 5th 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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My heart is a kaleidoscope, and when we kiss it makes my world unravel . . .

Last summer, Gottie's life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason, the boy to whom she lost her heart 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.

I don’t really know what to make of this book. Have you ever read something and felt like you simultaneously understood everything and understood nothing? This is one of those books for me. As I was reading it, I felt like I was able to follow the science and physics of what was going on, but upon finishing the books, I now realise that I know nothing.

The Square Root of Summer is a story about love and grief. The main character, Gottie, is a 17 year old who lost her grandfather almost a year ago. Lately, she’s been seeing strange gaps in her environment that cause her to travel back or flash back to an event in the past, and lose time in the present. As she tries to piece together what is happening through complex mathematical equations, she realises that her past and present are intertwining in strange ways…

I went into this book with really high hopes because the last book I read with a mix of contemporary and sci-fi was The Love That Split The World and that one was a major disappointment to me (I initially rated it 3.5/5 but every time I think about it, I have even more problems with it). The Square Root of Summer was a little bit better conceptualised in my opinion and more successful as a contemporary and sci-fi crossover. It was grounded in physics and was very well researched, from what I can tell. All of the theories and concepts in the book were very well explained, with the use of diagrams and metaphors, and it really isn’t very difficult to follow the logic of the book. However, what I struggled with was putting all of the concepts together and figuring out what the story ultimately was conveying. While I understood everything separately as they were being explained, I had a hard time understanding what it all meant together. So I felt like I finished the book not completely grasping what had happened.

What I will say though, is that the science and mystery of what was going on kept me interested in the story. Even though I didn’t completely follow all of the science in the novel, it didn’t stop me from enjoying it and wanting to continue. It felt like one big puzzle piece that I had to put together and it was a really intriguing and fun experience. I liked following Gottie’s thought processes as she tried to figure out what was happening in her life and it wasn’t a bad reading experience at all.

The writing itself was also beautiful and I could read the beautiful descriptions in this book over and over. The descriptions were very vivid and I felt like I could really see Gottie’s room where she’s got equations written all over her walls and I could see exactly what the Book Barn looked like. The beautiful English country setting definitely came across to me in this novel. There were other aspects that I really enjoyed. I liked that there was diversity in sexuality and that Gottie was a woman in STEM. Despite not completely understanding everything, I appreciated that there was so much science in this book and that Gottie had aspirations to become a scientist and researcher. I also really enjoyed that one of the male characters is a baker (I have a soft spot for those) and that Gottie’s family is German and there are German words and aspects of German culture littered throughout the book. It’s not something that I see very often in YA fiction.

“I like you then, and now, and probably forever.”

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, for the most part. Gottie was a little bit of an aloof character and I found it hard to connect with her at times. But I also thought that she was a relatable character and I could really connect with the grief she was feeling. I also really, really loved Thomas. He was a really genuine and nice guy, who bakes, and he said some pretty darn romantic things. I enjoyed the side characters as well but my favourite, by far, was Gottie’s father who I thought was really eccentric and adorable in the things he said and did.


While I did have a bit of trouble understanding what the story meant because of all the scientific theories and concepts that I wasn’t smart enough to put together, I did enjoy the reading experience overall. There were some really great and unique characters in the book and I liked how the relationships between them were explored. I wished that I had been able to figure out the story a little bit more because I imagine this would be an amazing book for those who understand it.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book.


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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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37 responses to “The Square Root of Summer Review: I Fell into a Wormhole of Confusion

  1. sumlynnnguyen

    I totally remember feeling weird about Anna and the Swallow Man-I understood what was happening all the while understanding nothing, too. But I actually ended up really enjoying that one. I'm sorry to hear that this was slight disappointment for you, Jenna. ): After I learned of this title I was really excited because yay for women in STEM, but I guess after reading your review I'll go into with low expectations. Contemporary/fantasy crossovers tend to be disappointing for me as well. :/
    My recent post Book Haul: May 2016

    • Yeah, I was so excited that this book was about science and a girl in STEM. It was really exciting to see. I kind of want to reread this to see if I'll understand it better but I don't feel motivated enough to do that T_T

    • It's definitely an interesting book. I think you should give if you're intrigued by it because you never know if you're going to understand it or not. The scientific concepts are actually explained pretty well. I just couldn't manage to put it all together šŸ™

  2. I was going to do a post about YA contempt with physics themes. There are a few of them, and I haven't had great luck with them (but haven't read this one). I seem to have better luck with the time travel books that use physics.

    • Yeah I haven't had much luck with these contemporary/sci-fi crossovers either. I haven't read very many but the ones I've read haven't been successful. I do have to say that I liked most of the elements in this one but just had a hard time understanding what happened.

    • Yeah I really enjoyed the whole book but was a little bummed that I didn't understand what happened. It was great up until the last 50 pages šŸ™

  3. Jaz

    OMG THIS WAS ME. I DID NOT GET THIS BOOK JENNA. ALL THE SCIENCE WHAT EVEN. Like tbh it was fantastic until the science and the end when she tries to tie it all together AND THEN THE GOING BACK IN TIME BUSINESS? Bleughhhhhh.

  4. Honestly I was NOT expecting this to be time travel, but I'm also kind of hesitant to get into this because I am really bad at physics. Well more like I know nothing about physics. But I love sci-fi contemporary, so I may give this a shot one day. Especially since you mentioned how beautiful the writing is!

    Awesome review Jenna!
    My recent post Make Me Read It Readathon

    • I think you should give it a go if you're intrigued. It's not really time travel as much as it's about parallel universes. I really enjoyed it but ultimately had a hard time putting all the pieces together. The writing is definitely beautiful though! I could read it all day long!

    • This is definitely one you should borrow. It's hard to tell if you're going to like it or not because I think it depends on whether you understand the physics in it. But I did like all of the elements in it and enjoyed the read.

  5. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    I so want to read this and a lot has to do with how beautiful that cover is. I am intrigued by understanding and not understanding the book at the same time. I want to see if that's how I feel too!! Great review!
    My recent post Monthly Rewind ~ May 2016

    • Isn't the cover just amazing?! Definitely one of my favourite contemporary covers! I think you should give it a go! It's hard to say whether you'll understand it or not and most people who have understood the physics have really loved it!

  6. I've been debating about whether I want to read this or not because I'm not really a contemporary fan, but the sci-fi elements interest me. It's glad to hear that, whilst it wasn't perfect, it was still an okay read. I think I'll end up checking it out and seeing how I go. Great review, Jenna šŸ™‚

    • I think you might enjoy this one even if you don't really like contemporary! It's definitely got a different feel to it and is much grittier than a lot of contemporaries. I actually liked all of the elements in this book but couldn't give it a higher rating because I didn't understand it.

  7. Ahh, it's great to hear that one of the characters was a woman in STEM here Jenna! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the book overall, despite some of those scientific concepts going over your head.

    • YES! Gotta love a STEM girl! This will definitely be in my recommendations when I finally write my Chatterbox on fictional women in STEM.

    • That was definitely my experience with it too. I really loved Gottie and Thomas in this book but the physics was a bit overwhelming in the end. I do want to reread it at some point and see if I can connect the dots a little bit better.

    • Haha it was really adorable in parts but definitely more of a grittier contemporary. I really enjoyed it but just wished I had actually understood what was going on.

  8. That's generally the consensus I've heard – that it's a good book, but the math and science in it is a bit overwhelming. I think I'm still going to give this a try because I love books with parallel universes, but I'll have to read it when I'm in the mood for a more academic book. šŸ˜‰ Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    • I think you should definitely give this a go if you want to read something with parallel universes. Some people have really enjoyed this and if you can get your head around all the physics, it would be an amazing read!

  9. It's been the only reason why I haven't picked it up yet. The synopsis alone speaks of alternate or parallel universe that I'm not really a fan of in books. The cover sure speaks of a nice contemporary, though.

    • The cover is beautiful! I kinda wish it was just a contemporary now because I really didn't understand the parallel universe and physics of it all…

  10. ConfessionsofaReadaholic

    OMG RIGHT?!?!?! I feel this SO much. I understood the book…but I also DIDN’T UNDERSTAND IT. It was so frustrating! The writing is gorgeous! I loved the characters! I loved the setting! But the physics just threw in a whole lot of confusion šŸ™ Great review!! šŸ™‚
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday – Week 168

  11. Bieke (Nelly B.)

    I'm hearing lots of similar opinions on this one and I'm kinda hesitant to read this because contemporary/sci-fi crossovers aren't that succesfull with me in general and I think lots of the math in this one will go over my head completely. Don't think it's my thing. šŸ™
    My recent post {Waiting on Wednesday} What Light You Left Me

    • I haven't really read a contemporary/sci-fi crossover that I've really liked either, Bee!! I have to say that I did enjoy most of the aspects of the book but I just don't feel like I understood the ending or why everything was happening.

  12. Kate

    Understanding everything and nothing is a fairly common occurrence for me.
    I'm glad that despite not understanding everything, you still managed to enjoy this book. I shall check it out

    • Haha yes, it's actually a pretty common occurrence for me too! I just wish I had understood this one a little bit more because I really enjoyed every aspect of it.

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