This memoir in graphic novel format is a coming-of-age story that focuses on the extreme dental work that the author underwent in middle and high school. Young Raina sees herself in the context of her braces, her fake teeth, her embarrassing headgear, focusing on that to the extent that she forgets about all the other elements of herself and her life that make her who she is.
Smile relates her journey through the often difficult years of middle school and high school, and it is told with heartfelt honesty and humor. The color panels are vivid and energetic, and the artwork depicts the characters' emotions beautifully.
I truly enjoyed this book, and so did my 10-year-old and 12-year-old daughters. And it was fun to see how much their friends who have read it enjoyed it as well. On several occasions when friends came over to our house and saw me reading it, or saw the book on the end table, their faces just lit up as they exclaimed, "I loved that book!" One told me that she's read it several times, and she loves it more each time. This is one that's great for kids - and adults - who have been interesting in trying out graphic novels but haven't yet taken the plunge.
This is a great graphic novel for middle school students - and would be perfect in a middle school library. Younger kids and adults will certainly relate to it equally well, particularly those who have suffered through braces and other orthodontic adventures. It's an engrossing school story, particularly the way it so effectively explores Raina's relationships with her friends, and I highly recommend it.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix, 2010)
Also reviewed at:
Back to Books: "A story that really grabs you from the beginning, un-put-downable, with a main character who is a joy to meet and get to know."
Carrie's YA Bookshelf: " It's beautifully illustrated and is one of the best coming-of-age stories I've read in a long time."
Fyrefly's Book Blog: " If you suffered through braces as a kid (or have them now!) and/or like memoirs in graphic novel form, you’ll probably enjoy this book."