The Square Root of Summer Book Review

The Square root of summer book review

What is this about?: Gotti as she navigates grief and her first love. With some time travel thrown in.

What else?: Science, or her version of it. There’s a healthy dose of musing about time travel that I admit I only half paid attention to.

Should you read: Yes! Oh yes. There’s nothing about love and grief that won’t resonate with readers.

Stars: 3.5/5

Blurb: This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

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.

First, this has got to be one of the most delightful covers I’ve seen. Despite the somewhat heavy content, this cover is hopeful and was enough to drag me out of a depressing read at one point. But now, on to the story.

Gottie is dwelling in grief when the book opens — Grey, her grandfather has passed away and Jason, who she was in love with, has moved on. It’s around these two events that Gottie revolves for they have shaped her past year.

Gottie herself is a delight — she’s sassy, fiercely intelligent and makes mistakes and … you can relate to that. To speaking too sharply, and knowing as much and not being able to stop. She thinks of Grey often, longs for him — and he’s a fully fledged character in the short scenes that he is present in this book. That’s the beauty of the author’s writing — Grey is unique and lovable, and the scenes in which she remembers him are filled with love.

She lives with Grey and her brother, Ned, and her father, and it is through Ned that Gottie meets Jason, with whom, she falls in love. It’s that rush of first love, and she falls into it completely, so much so that’s devastated when she and Jason end. When we meet them they are already broken up, and while the heartbreak is awfully, wonderfully human her love for Jason is after the fact, so it’s hard to reconcile how much in love she is with him.

But then there’s Thomas: her best friend who moved away from her and despite their friendship fizzling over the long distance, he’s back. In fact, he’s back in Grey’s room until his mother returns. Gottie is still angry at him, but slowly the reason for the distance unfurls… and here’s where it gets confusing because SCIENCE. And time travel, the hook which got me interested in it.

Look, it’s confusing. There are theorems and principles and diagrams! Diagrams. I cannot say I understood everything completely, but it didn’t matter — it was Gottie that took me through those scenes — her confusion and her passion and her love for Grey and even her desire for Jason.

But back to Thomas — repairing their relationship is delicate, and what I enjoyed was that Gottie made mistakes on the way there. Thomas is epically forgiving though, but I suppose that could also speak to his desire to fix them. We see them in the past and how close they were before he moved away and I suppose he resonated more with me than Jason did.

In the end, the time travel is a lovely, if confusing hook, but it’s Gottie, her relationship and how we move forward from grief that makes this book wonderful.


  • I’ve been on the fence with this one but sounds like I should read it! The premise sounds good and this seems like a very real book, which I always love. Great review!!

    • Verushka says:

      The whole math/time travel thing is an unusual hook, but it is just a hook for tender story about grief, I think.

  • AngelErin says:

    Great review! This one sounds pretty intriguing and a little bit unique. 😀

  • Ahh, I’m so torn over this one, I have it, but still haven’t read it, but like one half of me is like YES, CONTEMPORARY REAL LIFE EMOTIONS, and the other half of me is YES TIME TRAVEL but as a whole? I don’t think that would work for me, especially since it sounds so confusing, which blah, but she sounds like a realistic character, so still torn, haha.

    • Verushka says:

      You’re right, that mix won’t work for everyone and I have to admit, I had to focus on her real life motions with respect to Grey to guide me through the tougher, more confusing parts.

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