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Kissing Vanessa    by Simon Cheshire order for
Kissing Vanessa
by Simon Cheshire
Order:  USA  Can
Laurel Leaf, 2006 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Simon Cheshire has penned a laugh-out-loud story in Kissing Vanessa, narrated by Kevin Watts. After holiday break, Kevin returns to Warwick High to begin the new term with renewed enthusiasm to raise his grades, while his fellow students are rip-roaring ready to wear teachers down - 'It's a real achievement to have got the kind of tough reputation we've got, as a student body ... If those teachers could harness the energy we put into subverting everything they do, they'd get us passing postdoctorate degree exams by the age of twelve.'

French class introduces a new student, Vanessa Wishart, who has a sophisticated, cool demeanor. And, yup, there go Kevin's work-hard, raise-grades intentions. He sees long legs, slender arms, slim, black hair, sculpted face, and as he looks into those sparkling green eyes, gulp! Kevin thinks, 'I love her. Completely and totally. Forever and ever. Amen.' Friends bring Kevin up to par on Vanessa's background - her dad is famous author Lionel Wishart, and mum is actress Valerie Parkes, they hail from London, where Vanessa has won awards for exhibitions of her photography. Photography!?! Hurrah! Kevin's hobby is photography, a perfect shoe-in for connecting with Vanessa. Now, if he could only get his tongue untied to come out with something intelligent, instead of always stuttering.

Friend Jack, the Obi-Wan of Warwick High and a self-proclaimed expert on girls, is ready and willing to assist Kevin through his written masterwork - 'Girlfriend Management the Easy Way'. Jack's approach is scientific, with nine lessons listed, including 'Girls Respect Cool Trousers', 'Play Hard to Get - It Drives Them Wild', and 'Never Spend Much Time Together - Keep Her Guessing'. So, read on, proceed with the trials and errors (more errors than not) of Kevin's pursuit of the lovely Vanessa. Even ending up at the same vacation spot during school break (by coincidence - not really) should reap its rewards - maybe. If events would just stop going awry, romance will find its way ... hopefully!

Kevin takes a vow, 'I will kiss Vanessa Wishart. I will kiss those soft and tender lips. I will prove to her that I love her with all my heart, and with all my soul. This is my solemn vow! Amen.' (So states the Prologue.) Simon Cheshire presents this young man's thoughts via offbeat wit, well-meaning intentions, heartfelt expressions, and a chivalrous attitude. Kissing Vanessa offers comedy, with insights into the reality of adolescent first love and how hard it is to just be and to speak for yourself.

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