ISBN-13: 9780545870986
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: August 2015
Format: Paperback, 214 pgs
Source: Purchased

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. 

9 Responses
  1. This looks familiar, but I can't say I knew much about it before reading your review, Melody. It seems perfect timing since I have a dentist appointment this coming Friday. Haha Hopefully it will be a simple one.

    This story reminds me a bit of one of my daughter's friends who lost her two front teeth early--they had to be pulled. At the girls' age it wasn't such a big deal, and unlike Raina's situation, the friend's teeth were only baby teeth. I think it was hard on the friend's mom though. She was afraid everyone would make fun of her daughter for having two missing front teeth. Maybe it would have been an issue if she'd been Raina's age. Anyway, that's neither here nor there.

    This does sound like a worthwhile read. I imagine I would be able to relate to Raina in some ways (we all could, I would think), even if not the dental issues.

    Thank you for bringing this one to my attention, Melody!

  2. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I can very well imagine the mother's worry when her daughter's front teeth had to be pulled out. Some took a little longer to have their front teeth grown; I think my youngest daughter is like that. She lost her two front teeth last year and it took a while to grow. During those period she'd to fake a smile without opening her mouth.

    I hope your dentist appointment goes well and that it's a simple one. :-)

  3. jenclair Says:

    Bryce Eleanor had a similar problem. At least these things can be addressed now. The graphic novel will probably appeal to both parents and kids!

  4. Iliana Says:

    That is great that both you and your daughter could share reading this book and enjoyed it. Another one for my list!

  5. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Yep, this is a book which appeals to both children and adults alike. My daughter told me the last time that she'd get another book by this author titled Sisters. I'll post my thoughts if I do get to it. :-)

  6. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I'm glad to discover this author through my daughter. I hope you'll enjoy reading it, too! :-)

  7. Marce Says:

    How sweet to have your daughter recommend a book with a title like SMILE. Love that.

  8. Melody Says:

    Marce - :-)

  9. Sharon Woods Says:

    This reminds me of my younger years when my teeth where all falling out and making me feel so insecure about my appearance. It really touches close to home and makes me remember just to smile and be who you are. To be proud of yourself and not letting others bring you down. Just to smile when facing the world.

    Sharon Woods @ Fall Spark Dentistry

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