What was the first thing I did when I finished reading Smile?
I Smiled Of Course!
Every once in awhile over the last few years, I would peruse the award winning graphic novel by the acclaimed Raina Telgemeier, always chiding myself for not fully committing to something that looked so interesting.
So to rectify this stupidity of mine, I set out to get Smile, met the creator, and get it signed, all at TCAF. And upon returning home, I quickly devoured it.
And now, as I stated earlier, I am Smiling.
Why did I wait so long? I am such a foolish Muggle.
Smile is the semi-autobiographical tale of several years in the life of the author, with all the issues and stresses and complications that come with adolescence. Or so it would seem. An added pressure, which helps bring about the title for this story, is how early on in this tale Raina, who is already scheduled for braces, trips and whacks her mouth but good.
Thus begins a dental trauma, taking over the next few years of her young life. Numerous operations, headgear, teeth removal, and unique retainers becomes her constant companion starting just before her eleventh birthday and trudging on into high school.
This affects her self-esteem, especially at this awkward, delicate phase of life. Normal doubts plague her, piled on with the teeth issues, making her other, pre-existing problem even worse. To put it bluntly, a lot of her so-called friends and quite nasty little bullies.
All through her travails, her “friends” are not quite supportive. If anything, they go out of their way to belittle and embarrass her, especially in public. Unfortunately, it takes quite some time for Raina to realize what is occurring. Always excusing the behavior, always hoping for the best, always quietly listening to their cutting criticism.
All this combine to illustrate that Raina did not have the happiest of childhoods. Thankfully, her family are very supportive and nice, so she has a soft place to fall. But to make us realize she herself was not perfect, Raina showcases her first crushes. Despite some feelings being reciprocated, she is not the nicest to one boy, which makes you want to give her a bit of a lecture at one point.
Even with all the craziness and crushes and cacophony that comes with being a preteen, trying to gently enter teenage life, Raina gives us hope.
Even with rotten friends causing you grief, Raina gives us contentment.
Even with a bad luck of teethy issues, Raina gives us peace.
Raina gives us Smile!
…is currently reading It’s Superman! by Tom De Haven.