YA Spotlight: Smile
There are few times in a person's life as awkward as being a teenager. Everything seems to change and finding balance is a constant struggle. Smile by Raina Telgemeier expertly captures the teenage experience through a fictionalized biography of her life.
Published in 2010, Smile recounts Raina's adolescence in middle and high school. While camping with her fellow Girl Scouts, Raina trips and falls damaging her front teeth. After a trip to the dentist, along with several follow-up visits throughout the book, Raina dons braces with which she hopes to correct her smile. Over the years, Raina goes through the gamut of emotions and experiences, dealing with school, her friends, boys, and other social episodes.
Throughout the book, Raina deals with the anxiety of how her braces effect the people around her. Will she lose her friends? Will she lose her teeth?! Will she never be able to share an intimate moment with a boy? This and many other worries plague her, and yet, overtime Raina learns some valuable lessons about who her real friends are and the harm worrying too much can do. In the end, Raina comes out a better person for the experience and grows to become a confident young woman.
The book is entirely written in comic-form, featuring the familiar assortment of panels and speech bubbles one expects from a comic. The artwork is charming and easy to digest, clearly expressing the various emotions of the characters and their surroundings. At 213 pages, Smile is also a fairly easy read that should not take more than an afternoon to finish.
Smile has won numerous awards since its publication, including:
- 2010- The Boston Globe - Horn Book Honor for Non-fiction
- 2011- The Eisner Award - Best Publication for Teens
- 2011- Young Adult Library Association's Top Ten Graphic Novels for Teens
- 2011- Association for Library Service to Children Notable Children's Book for Middle Readers
- 2013- Intermediate Young Reader's Choice Award, State of Washington
- 2013- Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award, State of Illinois
- 2014- Nevada Young Reader Award
From its publication to February 2017, Smile spent a whopping 240 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list for Paperback Graphic Novels. Pretty impressive!
Telgemeier has published several other works as well. She has also adapted The Babysitters' Club into comics! Feel free to check out some below:
Looking for something else? The St. Tammany Parish Library is always happy to offer the use of our catalog to find more items by Raina Telgemeier and countless other authors and subjects available in our system. Happy reading!