Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Square Root of Summer

Margot (Gottie) Oppenheimer has lost a lot lately. Her mother died soon after her birth. Almost a year ago, her hippie grandfather Grey died and at the same time, her first relationship with Jason ended as well. She's been isolating herself from just about everyone and is just starting to reconnect. Coincidentally, her childhood friend Thomas is returning to live at her house after a falling out with his father. Gottie doesn't know how to feel as the anniversary of her grandfather's death looms and her friend who never wrote her is set to return. Then Gottie notices that she's losing time as she slips into past memories and then returns sometimes hours later with no memory of what she did in the present. What's happening?

Gottie has had an emotional year, spent mostly keeping to herself. She has blocked out her best friend and her family as she does the least possible to avoid thinking about her grandfather and her ex-boyfriend. A few things make her stand out from the typical protagonist. She excels at math and science, which is refreshing. Her father is German, so many German words are bandied about and German recipes are enjoyed. I had to look up some words, but most were apparent in context. Gottie isn't perfect and makes numerous conscious and unconscious mistakes throughout the story. One thing I particularly liked was that she had sex with her ex-boyfriend, but didn't regret it. He was a jerk to keep it a secret from everyone and for the way he treated her after Grey died, but she was in love and doesn't regret her decision. Her relationship with Thomas is sweet and like they picked up where they left off so long ago. After an initial awkwardness, it was easy to get back into their friendship and something more as they caught up.

What I had a problem with is the science aspects. The  She hypothesizes that she's going through wormholes to different realities where certain things happened or didn't happen. The different realities thing seemed to come out of nowhere near the end of the novel. Before that, I thought she was just visiting the past, She tries to explain it with math equations and baking metaphors, but none of it really made sense to me. When I stopped trying to make sense of it, I enjoyed it much more. The pictures and equations kind of went over my head because I'm not a math or science person, but it was nice to get a small taste of what Gottie enjoys.

I expected The Square Root of Summer to be a light fluffy summer read, but it deals with realistic things like grief and loss. I thought the ending was a little too tied up, but otherwise enjoyable. I enjoyed the book and felt for Gottie even when she was making some awful decisions. Worth a read.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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