Learning to Swear in America

Learning To Swear In America – Katie Kennedy – Bloomsbury USA Children’s – Published 5 July 2016



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 thoughts

Learning to Swear In America is a humorous story of friendship, loneliness, missed childhoods and individuality. An asteroid hurtling towards Earth at 71km a second has a way of making you reevaluate your life. And Katie Kennedy has a way of writing that sucked me into this story. I was laughing numerous times throughout this book – even her author note and acknowledgements at the end of the book were enjoyable to read. Humour is so important in this touching story.

Yuri is a Russian physicist protégé. At seventeen, he is working at a university, trying to have his research on antimatter published. So when the US needs help fighting an asteroid that is seventeen days away from destroying America, Yuri is happy to comply with their request that he joins the NASA team. He has just seventeen days to do the math to stop the asteroid, convince his new colleagues that he knows what he is doing, learn to swear in English, make some friends, and maybe even fall in love – just your basic save the world to-do list.

Yuri is a loveable character. His accent and mannerisms are so clear in my head thanks to fantastic writing. He’s a slightly a-typically, yet still completely recognisable teenage boy. And there are plenty of other vibrant characters in this book, including the colourful Dovie, her brother Lennon, and their hippy parents, and then the scientists, older, stressed and a little grumpy.

From language misunderstandings and cultural differences, to love, family and dealing with the end of the world, this book hits on some great topics, all with humour. 

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Contemporary.

Themes: Science, social, cultures, language, space, asteroids, mathematics, friendship.

Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.

Advisory: Mild sexual references. Infrequent coarse language, s***, f***.

Published: 5 July 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s.

Format: Hardcover,  ebook. 352 pages.

ISBN: 9781619639096

Find it on Goodreads