Review: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

7 Jun

Scholastic Canada, 2010

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night 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: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.



From Scholastic Canada website


I’m pretty darn new to graphic novels. In fact, Smile is only the second one I’ve ever read. But I have a strong feeling that because of how much I loved Smile, it’s a format I’ll be reading a whole lot more of.

While the main story line is all about Raina and her quest to have her teeth look normal again, having a perfect smile isn’t really what Smile is about. It’s about growing up, those awkward teen years and learning to like yourself for who you are. In other books these life lessons have appeared heavy handed, but this was not the case here. It’s been many, MANY years since I’ve been a teen but reading about Raina, her boy troubles, obnoxious friends and self consciousness brought it all back. While I never had braces or issues with my teeth I could still sympathize and groan with her for what she was going through.

And as someone who was a teen in the late 80s the references to that time period’s clothing and fads were wonderful. (Caboodle anyone?) When Raina describes what she wore on her first day of high school I actually snorted. From the scrunchie to the socks matching the sweater, she had it down to a tee.

This was a quick read for me and when I sat down to start it, I didn’t get up until I finished it. I was captivated by Raina’s voice and everything she was going through. I highly recommend Smile to kids and adults a lot. After all, most of us still feel like an awkward 13 year old inside.


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