Smile Raina Telgemeier

New Memoir for New Class Readings?

I do not think that this memoir, Smile, should be included in a future reading list for this class. I found although this book portrays an interesting plot based on a true story, it was not as meaningful as other works can be. Although it gives motivation to teenagers who are struggling during their awkward adolescent phase, the other works that we read in class have an overall historical or at least social meaning and I found this book exclusive to the life of one person.


This is the true autobiography of Raina. The story starts off when Raina is 11-years old, in the 6th grade. While racing home with her friends one day after Girl Scouts, Raina trips and knocks out her front two teeth. Raina then hasto see numerous doctors to fix her teeth and has to wear braces, headgear, and undergo other treatments all while going through the troubles of middle school. Raina enters high school and meets new friends after her old friends from middle school prove to not be good friends at all. At the end of the comic, Raina gets her final surgery and is finally able to smile with confidence again. Throughout the book, Raina faces the problems of being a teenager, such as boys, awkward moments, family, and insecurities.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Content

Telgemeier addresses themes in Smile such as overcoming insecurities, maturity,and self-awareness.

The themes are addressed very well. Support for the three major themes that I found are supported by examples in the text. Raina's growth of maturity can be seen by her contrasting views of how people view her in the beginning of the book versus the end. Maturity is fostered throughout the book by the explanation of different milestones as an individual ages such as physical growth and mental growth. The theme of self-awareness is also seen when Raina takes a step back and analyzes what type of friends she has.

Throughout the book, Raina's progressive way of thinking and analysis of how the things around her affect her life and emotions, displays a growth in maturity.

The only weakness of the content is the fact that not all of her story can relate to others. For example, a lot of dramatic things happened such as getting a retainer with fake teeth and undergoing multiple surgeries. Although it is based on a true story, there is a sense of disconnection with the reader.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Form

The author did a great job incorporating symbolic emotion and sounds into the text so that moments can be held and the experience can be dramatized. Symbolic emotion is especially important when the author is trying to relay the trauma she went through with her teeth.

Telgemeier affectively uses bright colors and a realistic setting to connect with the reader on a more interactive and personal level. By using these, the targeted audience of teenagers or reflective adults, allows the themes of the comic to be relayed.

The author's form in regards to panels and transitions, was done well as well. Action to action transitions were the main transitions used throughout the comic. This allows the author to place emphasis on certain scenes and specific actions that may have significant consequences in the future. Throughout the comic, there is a various number of panels on each page, but most pages range from 5 or 6 panels. This allows the reader to narrow in on the panels and focus on the scene and topic at hand.


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