May 5, 2016

The Secret of Perpetual Motion • The Square Root of Summer

The Square Root of Summer book cover
I didn’t know what to expect going into The Square Root of Summer, since I had gone into it without looking over the actual summary. Within a few chapters, however, I just knew that this was a book I would enjoy tremendously. It was a pleasant surprise, and I wound up really liking this one a lot! The Square Root of Summer is about Margot Oppenheimer, who is recovering from the loss of her beloved grandfather and her first love, as well as the surprising reappearance of an old friend in her life. To top all of that off, Gottie is experiencing some really crazy time and space phenomena that people have only theorized about and guessed at. As she struggles to make sense of the science behind her timeline jumping, Gottie also works at making peace with all of her real life problems and the feelings that go with them.

One of the most interesting things about this novel is how physics, as well as space and time theorems, are incorporated into the story. While I don’t profess to be any more knowledgeable about the science behind space and time theories, I really like how it was integrated. It didn’t feel jarring at all, nor was it too difficult to understand the concepts (especially when they would be explained in layman terms). Plus, it simply made sense, considering how Gottie’s mind worked and her own affinity for that particular area of study.

But Gottie is actually the major reason I liked this story (especially because it’s really character-driven). Gottie is the kind of gal I would totally have gotten along with in real life, if I had had the privilege of knowing her. She’s got a love of books, family, and personal space, all of which I could totally relate to. I also liked her odd sense of humor, unusual ways of looking at things and persistence in finding explanations for everything. All of this is enough reason for me to like her, in spite of the way she tends to get very singularly focused and to shut the rest of the world out or forget about other things going on. She’s not a perfect teenage girl, but no person (teen or not) is, so I found that charmingly realistic and refreshing.

The story unfolds very naturally, as Gottie struggles to make sense of everything going on in her life. It was really cool to see how carefully the author tackled Gottie’s approach to life, as well as her relationships with other people. It read really well, and I was completely absorbed from start to finish. I will say that, with the timey wimey stuff, it will be a bit confusing initially, but I promise that you’ll find it to be somewhat possible to make sense of it by the end. It was really compelling, and really good, and I really liked it a lot. Clearly, I was impressed by The Square Root of Summer, and I look forward to future novels from Hapgood.

What would you put in a time capsule?

In the context of Rachel & I creating this time capsule together, I would put in the following things: a photo strip I have with photos of the two of us, Ideal Bookshelf artwork featuring Throne of Glass, Something Strange and Deadly and Anne of Green Gables, a CD/USB with a copy of our road trip playlist, the friendship bracelet she gave me last Christmas and a letter for us both to read years later. I feel like this wouldn't be enough to encompass how much our friendship means to me in real life, but it comes pretty close!

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Source: ARC from the publisher (Thanks!)

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.


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