Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Title- Smile
Author- Raina Telgemeier
Stand Alone
Format- Paperback
Publisher- Graphix (Imprint of Scholastic)
Published- February 1st 2010
Pages- 214
Source- Library

After running after her friend, tripping, and messing up her front two teeth Raina begins her journey as an inevitable awkward teen with a metal mouth. In the author's true story she recounts her Middle and High School years. Crushes, Friends, Band, and Braces describe the life of Raina and many teenagers in the past, present, and future. It's part of the stage in your life that you want to forget but you also don't because it helps to define you. The question is - will Raina survive it?


After Raina runs after her friend, trips, and falls on her face she must go to the dentist. There she discovers that not only will she need braces but extensive work on one of her missing teeth while the other one is lodged up in her gums. To say her life sucked at this moment would be a huge understatement. I want to point out something that I will be pointing out all throughout this review - this girl is me. I too ran after a boy in a hide and seek game and had enough time to move from the impending wall right in front of my face but I am an air brain so I hit that and chipped my tooth. The dentist later filed down my two front teeth because they were large anyways which would have been nice to know before he brought this team of dentists to have surgery on my mouth years earlier. I could feel Raina's pain like I'm sure a whole bunch of metal mouths can. I actually like the term metal mouth which I've never been called before. It's sounds cool like your into metal or hard rock bands. Braces may be essential but they are evil. I also feel her pain in her messing up her teeth in a split second. Not only do you feel embarrassed afterwards, you have to deal with the dentists.

There were pictures littered everywhere with what they were doing to her teeth. At least my accident wasn't as bad as hers but she does talk about having braces and what you have to go through. The tightening of braces that feels like horrible things are happening to you and the pain that comes after it. How you can't eat solid foods right after you get your braces because of the slight problem of not being able to open your mouth for risk of horrendous pain! But it's something a lot of people go through and it's not like you are damaged afterwards. Once it's off it's over... well for most of us. Maybe not so much for Raina who had to get braces twice. The artwork itself is pretty bright and lively. Telegemeier has a distinct style that you can also see in her sequel to this book - Drama.

You know when you're a young girl and start crushing on boys (this goes for crushing for the same sex and boys crushing too)? Your head just filling up with possibilities? Should you say something, if so what? That tongue tied feeling? Your heart all a flutter? It's a bother but Raina describes it so well. I like how not everything in her life is perfect this way. You would think I would think that just because of the whole teeth debacle but with boys it's different. If everything went perfectly for her I just couldn't relate to her so well and I don't think many would relate to it her so well because it's even more universal than braces. The awkwardness of havin a crush must be just that. Awkward! She acts like a kid with the people she crushes on and how she crushed. She acts a little selfish too but it's all right because that's how you learn! Mistakes: troublesome but needed.

Band = Torture. For me at least it was. It didn't end very well... Raina doesn't really talk much about band but she does talk about the boy sitting next to her and her blushing ways. It was adorable. I am so glad for her that she was able to pull off her instrument and had no scarring moments dealing with band which is by the way the worst possible elective. Looking back now I should have asked to go into the wind instrument class or P.E. Raina seemed to have a good time from what I can decipher. I would have been exhausted afterwards if I had to sit next to a boy I liked trying not to smile like an idiot or say or do anything stupid. Such is the life of a teenage girl.

I could just hit Raina's so called friends. I too picked the wrong friends in Middle School. For Raina they would mock and laugh at her which can really bring a girl's self-esteem down. There are sometimes some friends that you choose to silently let go of because it's not working. You naturally grow apart or you do it on purpose. Then there are others where you have to stand up for yourself and say NO! I will not take your abuse any longer. Raina is based on the author so she of course has artistic talent. As a result she found some nice friends almost immediately. Unfortunately I had to wait till senior year to find the right group of people for me. It still ended well. It's always a process to find true friends.

I love how her story ends up with her building her confidence up and I love her words about growing out of her former friendships while gaining new healthier ones: "The more I focused on my interests, the more it brought out things I liked about myself. And that affected the way other people saw me!" (I didn't know the exact words from the book because I don't have it with me so I found this in an author interview here.) It's so true. Her words and her story are such an inspiration. I could relate to her so well and absolutely loved this graphic novel for coming into my life. It's like saying I'm not alone. We are not alone. Everybody's had their moments. Everybody's crushed on a boy or girl before. Lots of people have had to deal with friendships that weren't good for them even your parents. Lots of people have gone through the stage of awkwardness. It isn't just you. You aren't alone.


  1. Haha, I love the illustrations! I would definitely be able to relate to main character, Raina. I had braces for five years and it was horrible! =P

    1. Five! I'm guessing it's because you didn't go to an appointment right away so the braces had to be taken off later. That's what happened to me *pouts*

    2. No missed appointments, they just put them on me WAY too early!

  2. I have this book but haven't read it yet. Based on your review I will be reading it ASAP. You are so right about middle school friends. I look back and some were not very kinds and I quietly distanced myself from those people. It is hard to be put down and to be made fun of by so called friends. What a fabulous review! Love the pictures.:) I remember my braces well.

    1. You will be so glad you read it (:
      It goes by pretty fast so you'll read it in no time.

  3. I haven't seen this book before, but it looks like such a promising read! I love how you describe how you related to Raina's experiences. I'm sure that everyone has. Definitely am going to check this one out!

    Angie @YA Novelties

    1. I've seen this book everywhere. It's just now that I figured out what it's about. It's really good! Hope you end up reading it :D

  4. This book is so good!!!!!!! It is such a good book. I have read this book and I think is a good graphic novel!


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