Friday, September 02, 2011

Book Review: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Brace Yourself
Smile by Raina Telgemeier

5 of 5 stars.

This comic/graphic novel cuts out a slice of a few years in a young girl's life, from middle school to early high school, which were dominated by a simple but momentous event: Her two front teeth being knocked out. The next few years are dominated by trips to dentists, self conscious feelings and problems with friends. It's humorous, and a lot of fun, with more than a few cringe worthy moments building up a satisfying coming of age story.

The illustrations have a cartoony but detailed and realistic, each page loaded with details. For example, our video game loving protagonist in one panel has clearly just beat Super Mario Bros 2, rather than some non-descript game. There's stories of boys and cruel girls here, ones that feel realistic. The 'dental drama' isn't a bigger than life problem, nor is the abuse Raina's friends drop on her the sort that drive her into a permanent mental depression. She simply absorbs it until one day she has the epiphany that if her friends are constantly treating her like garbage...maybe they aren't her friends. It's a story that adults, teens and middle schoolers can relate too, not a fantasy story nor a twisted mind altering dive into abstract feelings, things comics tend to lean towards. When I think of comics as a way to tell simply, straightforward entertaining stories, this is going to be one I think of.

Overall, I'll give this 5 stars, something I don't give out lightly, simply because I don't feel like there's much if anything that could make this better. I think it's worth rereading and I find it to be a fine example of a growing number of comics/graphic novels that can appeal to a non comic reader.

Interested in talking about books you like? Come to Teen Reader's Tuesday this Tuesday at 6 at the Library!

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