Saturday, 7 December 2013

Review: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Did you have any kind of orthodontia growing up? Here's a book about a girl who's had it 50 times worse than you! Raina's experience is cathartic for the reader--whether the reader is pre or post-orthodontia hell.

This is a fantastic middle grade graphic novel. Kids who have had a dental emergency, getting or has braces, or is having some dental work done can appreciate Raina's fears and what she goes through. Raina trips on the sidewalk and suddenly is faced with major social anxiety. She loses her confidence and her ability to smile willingly. Smiling is hard when you're young and vulnerable and your mouth is full of metal.

Poor Raina sees a myriad of dental experts, has multiple surgeries, as well as braces, headgear, elastics for her cross-bite, a retainer, and fake teeth. As a kid who had to suffer through having my overbite, cross-bite, and uneven teeth fixed through years of pain and metal in my mouth, I felt for Raina. Her pain was my pain.

Mouth hurts so much that you're whole head hurts? Check.
Mouth hurts so much you can't chew bread? Check.

Young readers can recognize their own insecurities, fears, and problems in Raina's story. No matter what kind of embarrassing things happen to you, life will go on with people who you can really count on; people who can really make you smile.

This is a wonderful story. Easy to read, accessible, heart-wrenching, and sweet. Smile can be enjoyed again and again. Young girls in grades six and up will enjoy this story. Raina Telgemeier has written a charming graphic novel that tells the story of a young girl growing up and how growing up is never easy.

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