Review of “Kissing Vanessa” by Simon Cheshire

Kissing Vanessa” by Simon Cheshire A review by Vanessa.

Kevin Watts loves photography.  And as he returns to Warwick High after Easter break he discovers he loves something else as well: the new girl Vanessa Wishart.  Unfortunately for Kevin there are several problems.  Vanessa may love photography just like Kevin, but she doesn’t seem to really know he is alive.  While Kevin is desperate to connect with her in any way he can and even tries taking the advice of his girl crazy best friend Jack, more problems show up.  Kevin’s friend Kate is making a lot of comments about her and Kevin getting together (no! not in front of Vanessa!) and James, Kevin’s rugby nemesis, is making eyes at Vanessa.  Well, tragedy of tragedies, Vanessa is making eyes back at him.  With no idea how to make her understand what is in his heart Kevin stumbles through a series of blunders in his pursuit of the perfect Vanessa.  Maybe Jack’s crazy advice can save him.  Because he will kiss Vanessa.  He will tell her what is in his heart.  If only he can manage to do so without also humiliating himself….

This young adult novel is a very endearing look at a young boy’s perspective of the all-encompassing and overwhelming effects of first love.  The main character, Kevin, is a fantastic and engaging narrator of his own story.  His observations are spot on for his age and cultural background.  Although the author and main character are British, the experience of high school is a reflection of experiences that cross the cultural barriers.  Everyone knows what it’s like to plunge head over heels in young love, and have no idea what to do about it.  This story presents this experience in a sweet, funny, and familiarly painful way.  Kevin is content to live in the background of the social world until Vanessa shows up and suddenly he is desperate to be noticed, to be cool.  That is something that anyone can sympathize with.

Reading along with Kevin as he marches forward in pursuit of his heart’s desire is compelling.  He is instantly likable and relatable, telling the story in a very distinctive voice.  The perspective is illuminating coming from that of young boy, instead of the typical and sometimes overdone young feminine perspective.  Cheshire has beautifully crafted the story from beginning to end.  Though the subject matter is not new, his style and humor brings a pleasantly fresh take on a classic story arc.  The read is very brief, but that brings a certain positive aspect to reading the story.  The author doesn’t mince words or bury the reader in flowery epithets.  Even so his style and form are charming.  The entire story is in a first person, present tense, active voice.  It moves the story along quickly, and makes the reader feel like they are walking along the halls of the high school right along with Kevin.  The imagery is very strong, and keeps you in touch with the main character, like visual snapshots of the story.  I would definitely recommend this as funny, and endearing quick read.  Although I must note a slight bias as my name is in fact, on the cover.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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