Smile by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First Published: February 1st, 2010
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Tween, Graphic Novel, Memoir, School Life, Friendship, Growing Up
Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.
This is a book every tween should read.
Raina Telgemeier has such an original drawing style. I can’t—and don’t even want to—compare her to any other artist and author because to me she is completely unique.
She understands so well what it means to be a teenager full of insecurities—mostly due to the fact that she was one herself, which is made very clear by this graphic novel that relates Raina’s pre-teen and adolescent years.
It all started with a mishap. She was running, and suddenly, BAM—she’s on the floor, her mouth leaking blood. From that point on, she discovers the joys of dentistry.
But this not only about Raina dealing with her teeth problems. Of course, since she is young and impressionable, not having as perfect a smile as other girls does affect her, especially considering that she is at that age where boys start looking at her and vice versa. But it’s not only about her teeth—it’s about family, friendship, school life and growing up.
It’s an insightful story. We follow Raina as she navigates middle school and high school—we meet her friends, crushes and family members. We see her at her best and worst. We feel her pain and joy. We applaud her mistakes and achievements. I felt really connected to Raina because she is real—flawed and insecure but also courageous and perseverant.
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