I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.Learning To Swear In America by Katie Kennedy
Published by Bloomsbury on July 6, 2016
Genres: Young Adult
An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize--if there's ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri's 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.
Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with questions of the universe.
When you’re learning a new language, one of he first things you want to know (or maybe its just me) is how to swear. The thing is, though, that swearing is different in every language. It really taps into the subtleties of word order, cultural idioms, and language norms that are really hard to grasp if you aren’t immersed in the culture. That’s why Learning to Swear in America is such a great title because, really, it kind of sums up Yuri’s experience and longing to be more than just a boy wonder. As an asteroid is heading to earth, NASA assembles a crack team of people that pretty much need to figure it out or die trying. Literally. So, at 17, Yuri along with his precocious knowledge of physics, is being brought to the US to help figure it out. He is met with some pissy attitudes and, more than once, his big idea is blown off by the powers that be. I really loved the way he was expected to perform as an adult, as they still treated him like a “dumb teenager” who couldn’t possible know what the best course of action is. As the approach grows closer, Yuri has to step up and fight for his idea, which he is convinced is the right direction to take. The scenes when they are down to the wire and working on a solution were really suspenseful, and even though you can guess how it ends, it was still really fun to read how they got there.
While all of this is going on, Yuri meets Dovie, an artsy girl from a hippie family. They are pretty much the opposite of anything that Yuri has ever experienced in Russia. In his time with Dovie, he gets to actually experience the adolescence that was lost to him as he attended university at a very young age. There is a little romance, yes, but their interactions were based in friendship and a need that they each had to feel validated in some way. I suppose you could make the argument that Dovie was a bit of a MPDG, although it would be a weak one, but really, it was more of a Manic Pixie Dream Family, since Yuri gets sucked into all of their orbits, not just Dovie’s. However, I thought Dovie was her own person, and not just there to provide Yuri with some crazy, life-changing adventure. Saving the world was adventure enough. Learning To Swear In America was part Apollo 13 and part coming of age, with exactly the kind of truly nerdy self-conscience main character I wish there was more of in YA. Yuri was sincere and confused and relatable, even if you aren’t a physics genius. Learning to Swear in America was utterly enjoyable and would make a great addition to your summer reading pile.