Graphic Novel Review: “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier


“Smile” 
by
Raina Telgemeier


Where to Purchase:

Amazon ¦ Barnes and Noble ¦ Half Price Books


This graphic novel is about childhood, Raina’s childhood specifically. The story is about how she has to get a lot of dental work due to an injury. At the same time she is growing up and her body is changing. Her life is changing substantially around her all the time and this book centers on the journey she takes through getting her teeth fixed and her life changing in regards to growing up.

When I read the back of this I was a little like “I may not like this book, but I am sure I will like her other one (Drama).” Yes, I totally judged this book before ever having read the first word in the graphic novel. Never having seen the art either, I felt like I was going to hate it or just feel like it wouldn’t speak to me. I was wrong. I may be a bit judgy for this one and I totally own up to it. I just wasn’t sure how a book about dental work could be interesting, but it was.

The story does center heavily on the fact that Raina has to get her braces put on and numerous other dental work that she has to go through because it seems like her mouth may just hate her. I actually enjoyed even the dentist moments because they were a nice distraction from the stuff that she was dealing with while growing up in school. The story has a positive message about finding people that you should be friends with and finding yourself. This book does it through her smile. This may not make sense right now, but when you reach a particular moment in collection you will nod your head and go “This is what Cassie meant.” Yes, I seriously am telling you to go find a copy of this book and read it. Enjoy it! You really will. I even left you links above to buy this book (these are not affiliate links, I am not looking to make money from recommending books to you. I just am not.) You just need to read this and hit that same moment I did that made me go, “Raina is so right and I want that as well.”

The artwork was childlike. I have commented on liking the more “crisp” lines of normal superhero works, but the reality is that I like a graphic novel that understands itself and finds the right artwork for it. This artwork, while childish in nature, is appropriate for the journey that Raina is on. A more “realistic” quality would have taken away from this collection. It would have made it feel stilted or too real. It needed that element less realistic element to actually sell the story, in my opinion.

While this is a graphic novel this is a collection that was made from experiences of Raina Telgemeier’s own life. It was also made weekly, so there are nice “stopping” points throughout. It made it easily readable. It had all these moments that make you want to continue though, so I bet you won’t be able to put it down. Still, however, you need to get a copy of it first. Get this book. Do I have to keep repeating myself for you to get that this is a great choice? Seriously, what are you still doing here. Oh wait there is more review, hold up and then go get it hehe.

I do not recommend this to people that only like the normal “superhero” tales for their comic books. This is a “slice of life” collection, so you will be greatly disappointed. No villains in the superhero sense. No buildings collapsing in this one. I promise. Go elsewhere if that is the only type of comic book you want to read. You will be so disappointed in this. Also if that is the only type of artwork that you can accept in a comic book pass this one up for that reason.

If you can enjoy a “slice of life” tale and one that you can identify with on multiple levels, READ THIS. You will enjoy it. If you enjoy reading about someone growing up and their struggles. Then ultimately the conclusion that they come regarding their life then you will enjoy this collection. If you are someone that enjoys the style of “The Baby-sitters Club” graphix novels by Scholastic you will enjoy this, since Telgemeier is the artist of those as well.

Raina Telgemeier has several other books, one of them is “Ghosts” and the other prominent one is “Drama.” I currently have “Drama” checked out from the library, so I will be reviewing that as soon as I read it and finish it. As also mentioned she has done several graphic novel collections of “The Baby-Sitters Club” books for Scholastic as well. This means that if you enjoy this collection or the artwork there are other books you can read that she has published. I highly recommend checking out some of her other works, I know I am going to be getting to “Drama” sooner rather than later.


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