Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel “Smile” is a light hearted but honest look back at the author’s teen years starting in sixth grade and ending in high school. The work is appropriately titled; the story begins with Raina’s smile being destroyed through an accident and follows her journey through numerous orthodontic surgeries and procedures to restore it. This process takes several years and seems to dominate her experience as a teenager. Besides learning to deal with the pain of surgery and braces, Raina must also cope with unrequited love, toxic friends, irritating younger siblings and parents. By the end, the title of the book stands for more than Raina’s dental problems; it also refers to what she discovers about life.
Telgemeier’s art work is clear and crisp; she manages to evoke the frustrations and joys of adolescence. You may relate to some of what some of the situations illustrated in the book; one thing is certain, after reading this novel you will find yourself obeying the title.
Audience: Ages 10-15 years old and adults.
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