Review – Learning to Swear in America


Title: Learning to Swear in America
Author: Katie Kennedy
Publication: July 5th 2016 by Bloomsbury
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 346 pages
Format: Library book
Rating: 4/5

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.

Shelf it on Goodreads


So here’s the alphabetical run down:


Yuri was such an easy character for me to love. I love his Russian accent and his social awkwardness and his self-confidence that would be over the top cockiness in any other character, but just works for Yuri. You come to understand that in his mind, he just is right, he just is a genius, and because of that he can’t comprehend not trusting his own opinion.

Dovie’s life was a great juxtaposition to Yuri’s life. She’s not really your average American teenager, but she (and her brother Lennon) represent everything that Yuri hasn’t had in his life: involved and entertaining family, spontaneity, and just in general a very colorful life.


I like the simplicity of the cover. It’s actually quite clever and I appreciate that it is really simple and really clever at the same time.


Yuri and Dovie’s relationship is not the central plot, but definitely adds to the story. I would not categorize the book as a romance at all, but Yuri and Dovie’s interactions and conversations are some of my favorite scenes in the book.


One of my favorite things about LTSIA is that it’s one of the first YA contemporary novels that I’ve read that I felt like was unisex. I feel like this book could be equally enjoyed by girls and boys. Maybe there are YA contemporaries geared towards boys out there and I just haven’t read them, but I feel like most books geared towards boys are either fantasy or sci-fi, but not usually contemporary, and I really respect Kennedy for writing something unique.

I enjoyed the timeline of the plot; about three-quarters of the way though you get to an event that you think could be the end of the book, but the last quarter of the book really shifts the focus of the book from being about Yuri saving the world from an asteroid to Yuri saving his own life. This book also has hilarious dialogue and is unexpectedly laugh out loud funny.

There is quite a bit of science in the book, some I somewhat understood and a lot I didn’t, but it didn’t detract from my understanding or enjoyment of the plot. If you really hate science, this book probably isn’t for you, but you probably knew that from the synopsis.


“He exhaled in disgust. ‘High school is boredom punctuated by humiliation.'”

“It’s not safe to know how to swear but not how to deal with people,” Dovie said. “It’s like walking around with your mouth loaded and the safety off.”

“‘I dream in color and I remember in color and I hope in color.’
‘What color is hope?’
‘I hope in all the colors,’ Dovie said. ‘That’s what makes it hope.’
‘I don’t really understand that.’
‘Nobody does.’ She was quiet for a moment, but Yuri could hear her breathing. ‘I feel like I was the whole color wheel as a kid. And growing up means losing some of that.'”


Some books, I go into with a preconceived notion about, but this one caught me by surprise. I enjoyed it so much and it is definitely deserving of four hearts!



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