Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: August 2015
Format: Paperback, 214 pgs
My eldest daughter, who is twelve, got me into reading this graphic memoir by Raina Telgemeier. She told me it has a great storyline and that it would make me smile towards the end, just like the title. And she is right.
Raina is your normal sixth grader girl who enjoys being with her friends and having some teenage insecurities the way many teenagers have at this age. But one night has changed her perspective in life when she fell and lost her two front teeth. What follows thereafter is a series of frustrating trips to the dentist, the orthodontist, the periodontist... (as Raina mentioned, I didn't know there are this many kinds of "dontists") until she feels like a freak. And that is not all, she and her family have survived an earthquake; she has a crush on a boy who didn't take notice of her and then there are some of her friends who don't feel like her friends at times.
Through the artwork, Raina shares with her readers her pains and her frustrations visiting the dental clinics, her journey from middle school to high school, and finally how she discovers her artistic voice and what true friendship really means.
An inspiring coming-of-age story, I found myself being transported back to my teenage years reading Raina's story (well, minus her dental woes, though) and some of the things she had gone through. Her dental experiences made me think back of my fear of being called to the school dental clinic and how small and helpless I felt lying on that patient chair (and even now at adulthood). Despite all the unhappy experiences Raina had had, I was happy to note that they have made her a stronger person and that they had inspired her to tell her tales through writing/drawing Smile.
Thank you, Raina, for making me smile reading this book.
Note: Smile won a Will Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens, received a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, and has appeared on many state reading lists. Raina Telgemeier is the recipient of a Stonewall Book Award Honor, and one of YALSA's Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens.