After needing to buy a second copy because our first was never on the shelf, I decided to give this a go and I was not disappointed. I can see why it’s so popular among our year 7s and really wish there had been something like this around when I was 12.
“Smile” is based on Raina Telegmeier’s real life experiences. It follows her journey from needing braces, to losing a tooth, major dental surgery, and finally learning how to smile. We watch as Raina transitions from middle school to high school – experiencing the perils of embarrassing herself in front of boys, dealing with friends that are constantly teasing her, and understanding what it means to be yourself.
This is a beautiful story of what life can throw at you while growing up. Written in the form of a graphic novel, this story is accessible to most readers – which, in my opinion, only makes it better. The illustrations are beautiful and could tell the story on their own. The way the words are portrayed in different fonts to mean different things assists in the storytelling, for example; when Raina is thinking, there are thought bubbles and a particular font, when it’s narration, the font is in an orange box. Like all graphic novels, this allows the story to be told with minimal words and maximum visual impact. The character development comes through the facial expressions of the illustrations. In many ways I think this makes the story more real. In terms of relating to the characters, I definitely saw myself in Raina. The challenges she faces are similar to the challenges that all teenagers face.
Overall, I highly recommend this graphic novel to all teenagers. I am looking forward to reading its sequel, “Sisters.”