I don’t usually read graphic novels, other than the few that I was assigned in my young adult literacy classes in college. Luckily, my students love graphic novels. When I explained that I wanted to try a graphic novel to read, I had several offer up suggestions right away. Smile was one of the books that multiple students were recommending to me over and over again. Needless to say, my students were really happy to hear that I ended up really liking it.
It’s a memoir written about the author’s experience as a teenager. She ends up hurting herself and as a result knocking out her two front teeth. What follows is her experience with braces and just growing up in general for the next four years. Many of us will recognize the same kind of issues: acne, crushes, puberty, losing and gaining friends, and so on. It didn’t take me long to finish but I found that it was a nice change of pace. I thought the art was really well done, especially considering the context and intended age level of the book. Some of us old schoolers will appreciate Raina’s experiences even more since the story takes place in the late 80s and early 90s. There’s even a part where she goes to the movies to see The Little Mermaid. None of the kids have cell phones, notes are passed in class, and Walkman’s are the it thing! It was fantastic! It definitely got me interested in trying new graphic novels. Thankfully, Telgmeier is an excellent author and has many more books available.