As soon as I read the plot summary for Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, I mentioned it to my sister, because her twelve-year-old has her own saga of dental trauma involving her two front teeth. Sadly, she’s still waiting for it at her library, while my oldest and I have both read it and are sending it back to ours. (In fact, I picked up Telgemeier’s latest graphic novel at the library today.) Happily (on the other hand), it’s my favorite–so far–of the graphic novels I picked up for genre report options for my newly-minted nine-year-old.
Here’s the thing. Sunny Side Up was partly autobiographical, and it was good; it felt a bit younger, however, and the lesson it taught, while perfect for its audience, is one I learned long ago. Smile is more of a straight autobiography, written less to teach and more to share experiences. Both work for their target audiences; the latter, however, has more appeal for an adult reader. I cringed at some of the twists and turns on poor Raina’s dental journey, and I cheered for her as she made changes in her life that had a lasting impact on her happiness and well-being. Graphic novels will never be my thing, but I’m still glad I read this one. It’s worth reading.