by Katie Kennedy
To be published on July 5, 2016
by Bloomsbury Kids
Source: ARC sent by publisher for review
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
My take: There were things I really enjoyed about this book, and others I wasn't crazy about.
I also liked the fact that this was an unexpected sort-of pre apocalyptic story. Believe it or not, this book is at least the fourth recent YA book I can think of that featured an asteroid on a collision course with earth. (Remember We All Looked Up, Tumble and Fall, and Life as We Knew It?)
There were aspects of Learning to Swear in America that were smart and funny and quirky in a way that made me happy. (A math teacher who makes his students feed a hamster to a snake if they get a math problem wrong??!! That's so wrong that it's right.) But, like so many quirky books, this for me went a bit too far at times. The story featured a romance I wasn't crazy about at all. I mean, yes, I understand that a main point of the book is that Yuri is book-smart but not life-smart, and that he needs to learn how to shut off his brain, act his age, and have fun. But ... hello? The entire fate of the world is at also stake and he's sneaking out to hook up with some random girl. But, hey, glad he's getting some action while the rest of the world prepares to die.
Dovie, Yuri's love interest, was a bit too Manic Pixie Dream Girl for my taste. That may not be her fault: her family was also very heavy on the quirk, with hippie throwback parents that seemed to have arrived straight from the 1960s in Austin Powers' time machine and a brother in a wheelchair named Lennon (at least it wasn't Lenin...)
Those issues aside, I did find Learning to Swear in America an unexpected and enjoyable read. If you like books that are on the quirky side, you should definitely give this a try!