Smile is a snapshot of a time in Raina Telgmeier’s life when she had a lot going on: dental drama, middle school, mean girls, cute boys, girl scouts, an earthquake and more dental drama.
It all starts one evening as Raina is coming home from a Girl Scout meeting, trips, falls and knocks out her two front teeth. So begins a long and frustrating journey with braces, surgery, horrible headgear and a retainer with beautiful fake teeth. Throughout all of this, the dental drama is mirrored in Raina’s personal and social life as she deals with the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, a boy who likes her, a different boy that she likes, and friends who turn out to be pretty mean in the log run.
This is a coming-of-age story in which Raina must learn to actually like who she is inside. Pretty much anyone who has ever lived through the middle school years will connect with Raina’s character and her struggles. At times Telgmeier makes you laugh (out loud a lot!), cringe, and leaves you inspired.
For me, this book was more than just connecting with Raina’s character. I felt like I could have been Raina on so many levels, other than the major dental issues. Why do I really love this book and feel like Raina are one? Let me count some of the ways:
1. I, like Raina also grew up in the San Fran Bay Area in the 80s/early 90s.
2. I experienced the 1989 earthquake and remember watching images of the broken Bay Bridge on the news (as Raina does)
3. Raina likes New Kids on the Block too! She liked Joey McIntyre too!
4. We were both in Girl Scouts (I was a Daisy and a Brownie)
5. We were both a little (or more than) awkward back in those awful middle school years
6. I had mean girl friends who were not so very nice to me (and had to eventually learn that I didn’t have to take it anymore)
7. I was pretty boy crazy and often had googly eyes when “those who shall not be named” were in the same room as me (or if I watched them from a distance…what? You didn’t do that?)
Okay, so there are so many other reasons why I LOVED this graphic novel, but to list more would just be absurd.
Anyway, you get it. I really, really loved Smile by Raina Telgmeier.
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