The Square Root of Summer, Harriet Reuter Hapgood


This was my first summery read of year and it was fantastic!  The Square Root of Summer is a young adult novel written by Harriet Reuter Hapgood.  It tells of a teenage girl called Gottie and the events of her summer 1 year after her beloved grandfather Grey dies.  Don’t be fooled though, as the title suggests there is a running theme of theoretical physics in the book as Gottie experiences wormholes and other sci-fi type phenomena.  There are some beautifully drawn physics diagrams (by Kristie Radwilowicz) and some basic explanations within which means that the scientific theories can be understood by anyone.  An interest in science, like I have, can help with this novel but it is definitely not necessary.

It was so easy to relate to Gottie as a main character.  She’s an A level student who has to deal with complicated relationships, teenage parties and most importantly, her personal statement for a UCAS application.  As someone who started that process about a year ago, I could completely understand the stress it can cause – especially when you just want to relax all summer!  By having Gottie go through all the usual things a teenager has to, it made her so realistic.  No one’s perfect and neither is Gottie but that makes her such a refreshing character.

The Square Root of Summer is set in Norfolk which allows Reuter Hapgood to describe the idyllic coastal surroundings that are perfect for a holiday read.  With mentions of beach trips, garden parties and ice creams you cannot help but feel summery when reading it.

Another aspect of the book that I really liked was the cover and pink paper edges.  The cover is so eye-catching and it was what originally brought my attention to the book.  The pink edges of the paper have been finished off with little numbers to really add to the physics theme of the book.  I believe this pink edition is specific to Waterstones, where I bought the book because I can’t find it in any other local bookshops.


Overall I loved this book.  On the surface, it seemed like a very standard YA novel about growing up, teenage love and heartbreak, but it was made completely unique by being perfectly twisted with strange sci-fi events.  Now put on your sunglasses, get a glass of ice cold lemonade and dive straight into The Square Root of Summer.


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