I just zipped through Raina Telgemeier’s Smile today, and, I’ll admit, this young adult genre’d work pleases on a multitude of levels.
Now, consider that this graphic novel follows a young girl (Raina herself considering this is a short teeth-related memoir) through middle school and into high school. Frankly, I’ve always had a problem revisiting these years in the things I read. However, this graphic novel triumphantly captures the convoluted ups and downs of growing up… with a twist.
Raina knocked both of her teeth out in a completely unawesome, typical, nothing special way (racing), and we follow her through her dental mishaps and adjustments. Her fears and doubts rise to the surface about – not only boys or school or friends – her teeth and the perception other people must have of her physically.
The art is simplistic but very emotionally charged. Frames may seem familiar but completely different, and it really emphasizes that Raina has mastered this style. I also really enjoy the coloring (and when the coloring breaks the formula on the jean patterns).
One of my favorite things about this work is its beats, layouts, and pacing (all of which are fairly interconnected). Raina really knows how to hit right on the mark for when to stop, begin, speed up, slow down, and punctuate the story; this may be accredited to Smile beginning as a web comic.
This graphic novel really works for me. As someone who doesn’t really delve too much into the young adult genre of literature or graphic novels, I have to say that I’m thoroughly pleased. This graphic novel obtained the rare event of getting me to smile, chuckle, wince, and feel hopeful. Although best suited for young adults or teenagers, this work is and should be accessible to anyone in any range. The wonderful amount of respect and awareness to and of its content really raises the bar for what sequential art can accomplish in this frank, honest, and beautiful work.
Funny that my review began with “Smile Around the Face” by Four Tet…
Check out some more of Raina’s work and Smile right here!