REVIEW: Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy
September 30, 2016
SYNOPSIS: 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.
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, (Science Fiction, but only because it deals with science and space, no aliens etc.)
REVIEW: Why isn't this book more popular?! It was fantastic! Maybe the title is putting you off a bit, but let me explain. Yuri, the 17 year old physicist, is Russian, and while he may be a mathematical genius and on his way to a Nobel prize, his understanding of human interactions is a tad stunted, especially when translated into American English. So, while he's trying to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, he's also learning what it's like to be a normal teenager, but in America. And since most people (especially teenagers stretching their boundaries) swear in one way or another, even if it's marginally benign exclamations, Yuri feels like if he can just learn the proper moments to swear he can learn to fit in. That doesn't mean that the book is peppered with cursing, far from it! It's actually all done rather adorably, because it's still a young adult novel ... did that help any? I hope so.
Well I just told you the basis for this story and it's title. Yuri is trying to save California, etc., with a team of other scientists at NASA/JPL. I won't tell you any more about the plot because the synopsis is pretty spot on and all you need to know. The writing is snappy and the characters are fun, interesting, and unique. You'd think with a giant asteroid hurtling towards earth that you wouldn't get a lot of external antics and shenanigans going on, but you would be wrong, because shenanigans are had and they are delightful!
There is also an amazing amount of depth in the novel. I loved the back stories and internal obstacles that the characters are battling. There is more to worry about than just the asteroid, though that's still a big problem of course. And there is just enough romance to give this book the added sweetness factor (is that a thing, 'cause if it isn't then it is now, bring on the sweetness factor). Quirky meets awkward and it's adorable. And the dialogue is perfect, from the Russian to the English, the author has the gift of good written dialogue, and that can never be praised enough in a young adult novel, or any novel actually.
This book was the right mix of humor and heart. I loved it from beginning to end and demand that you give it attention because more people need to read this book. I don't think you will be disappointed.