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Smile: 04/20/11

cover art

Smile is Raina Telgemeier's graphic memoir about her tween and teenage years, punctuated by extensive orthodontic work. In sixth grade she fell and knocked out her upper front teeth. She went through numerous procedures to repair her smile.

I'm about five years old than the author, guessing from the historical clues she puts into her memoir. I also went through some orthodontia but nothing like she went through. I do however, share a headgear experience. One detail she didn't put in her memoir (maybe she didn't try it) the fact that headgear makes a great lock pick. Not hygienic, I know!

But it was the surrounding details that brought the book to life, things like the Nintendo NES games she was playing, life during and after the Loma Prieta earthquake and the illustrations of San Francisco.

The details made the book real for me. Of course it is real in the sense that it's a memoir. But it was more real than many of the memoirs I've read. It's book I've been recommending to everyone I know between the ages of fifteen and thirty.

2010 Cybils short list for graphic novels

Five stars

Comments (4)

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Comment #1: Thursday, April, 21, 2011 at 07:16:51


I wonder how well I'd relate to it. I had braces for six years, including the whole headgear thing!

Comment #2: Friday, April 22, 2011 at 15:44:11


I had a headgear but not braces as a kid but it wasn't the orthodontia part of it that won me over. It was everything else.

Comment #3: Thursday, April, 21, 2011 at 13:33:13

Carin S.

I've read a few graphic memoirs in the last couple of years, and have been surprised - I really enjoy them! This one sounds good too. I'll keep an eye out for it at the library.

Comment #4: Friday, April 22, 2011 at 15:45:33


It was good. I hope you get a chance to read it.

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