Learning to Swear in America

by Katie Kennedy

As a giant asteroid hurtles toward Los Angeles, 17-year-old physicist Yuri Strelnikov... read more

As a giant asteroid hurtles toward Los Angeles, 17-year-old physicist Yuri Strelnikov arrives from Russia to help U.S. scientists frantically working to minimize the impact. On a break, Yuri meets 16-year-old Dovie. With a purple house, a pet bird named Woodie Guthrie, and an annual celebration of Dylan’s first album release anniversary, Dovie and her free-spirited family are unlike anything analytical Yuri has known. As the scientists race against the clock, Yuri is frustrated that his untested but rigorously developed theories on anti-matter aren’t considered. When the threat parameters change, Yuri takes a staggering risk that saves the day. He’s a hero, but the U.S. government has no plans to let him go home: He was caught taking photos of the classified weapons he needed to understand in developing a solution. So Dovie and her older brother, wheelchair-user Lennon, come up with a plan. This fresh, funny book requires suspension of disbelief: everything from the ease with which Yuri moves in and out of NASA’s high-security facility to Dovie’s hippie family to the threat at the story’s heart is over the top. But Yuri and Dovie, smart and thoughtful and deep, are genuine if singular teen characters in a story that is also rich in ideas—a work both blithe and intellectually satisfying. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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