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DescriptionRaina just wanted to be a normal girl, 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 not be so friendly.
- Published: 01 February 2010
- Format: Paperback 224 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780545132060 ISBN 10: 0545132061
- Sales rank: 4,151
Reviews for Smile
Coming of Age Amidst a Dental Nightmare
Reason for Reading: This is a Cybils '10 nominee and required reading for me as a graphic novels panelist.
This is a graphic memoir that follows the author from grade six through her sophomore year of high school specifically focusing on her dental problems. In the 6th grade, just shortly before she is scheduled for braces for an overbite Raina trips and knocks out her 2 front teeth. A host of other problems follow as we watch Raina's dental nightmare over the next several years. During this time Raina is going through adolescence, her normal self-esteem issues at this age are multiplied by the extensive work she has done which includes a retainer with two false front teeth attached to it.
I loved this book. First the artwork is wonderful. Cartoony but so very expressive. The characters facial expressions almost tell the story by themselves. Set in the late eighties, there are lots of fun retro moments for adult readers in the background as one notices her watching 'Silver Spoons' on TV and they play an original 8-bit Nintendo system. The dental story is transfixing. I didn't wear braces myself, so that and all the extra problems of missing teeth and loss of bone, etc. was fascinating. Raina goes through this experience with pain and complaints but she is a happy child and can always see the bright side of things, eventually. Children going through/or about to will identify with Raina and feel for her while at the same time being thankful they only have to wear braces. This is also a story about growing up and it very nicely shows how Raina slowly notices over the years how she has become the butt of jokes in her group of friends and while no one is mean to her (on purpose) she's not exactly in healthy relationships friend-wise. As she grows older she finds new interests, meets new friends, become boy conscious and starts to feel good about herself on the outside but more importantly ... on the inside.
One notices all the issues being dealt with within this story without an issue being made out of them and the story is a very enjoyable read. Both funny and emotional. It isn't until the end that the author spends a mere two pages waxing eloquently about how in hindsight she realized she'd moved beyond the child stage and grown-up a bit by the time her braces were removed. 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. by Nicola Mansfield
Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com
Raina is struggling with one specific aspect of her life... her smile. Having to get braces, she's dreading having to be a brace face, metal mouth - anything you want to label it. However, it's her smile, especially her teeth, that will haunt her all the way through middle school and up into high school.
From having them knocked out, to wearing head gear, to even having to get a retainer with two fake front teeth. To get that perfect smile it's going to be a long journey... and a very painful one, at that.
Along the way, social problems continue to follow Raina. From crushing on a younger guy, to getting that athlete to notice her, to even standing up for herself after she's had enough of the humiliation, Raina discovers who she is, how she shouldn't change anything about herself, and that true friends would never make or put you in awkward situations.
Accompanied by colorful pictures, a cute and realistic storyline, and a main character that any person will be able to identify with, SMILE by Raina Telgemeier does one thing especially well... it makes the reader smile!
Many of us have experienced getting braces, feeling the intense pain when we want that bite of the burger we can't have just yet. Almost all of us can understand what it's like when you want to break apart from the not-so-great friends we've had. Telgemeier does a fantastic job in capturing the true essence and emotions of a person going through changes.
SMILE is one book you'll want your kids to read... and the one you'll want to read yourself! by TeensReadToo