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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.



Book 43/100: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

— feeling grin
Smile - Raina Telgemeier

Around the Year Reading Challenge Item #35: An Award-Winning book (Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Winner)

So, even though everyone who has laid eyes on this graphic novel seems to love it, regardless of age, I was never particularly interested in reading it. But it came up on my book club's reading list, and while I can see the appeal, I don't think it would have been the biggest tragedy if I'd never read it, either.

In general, graphic "memoirs" are my favorite genre of "graphic novels." This one was especially fun because Raina was in middle school around the same time that I was, so I recognized the hairstyles, Nintendo games, and other pop culture references -- especially what a HUGE deal it was when The Little Mermaid came out. :) Yet today's tweens are still eating this book up because the way it captures the insecurity and confusion of adolescence is spot on, with all of it exacerbated by Raina's dental drama. While that provides the "through-line" that ties all the pieces together, this is really a story about growing up and finding your voice, and it's incredibly satisfying when Raina does.

There are some things that a visual medium can capture so much more poignantly than prose, and no place was that clearer than when Raina abandons her old crush for no particular reason, and the heartbreak is clear in his body language and expression -- probably the most heartbreaking part of the whole book, even though it's not treated as totally pivotal.

While I've never had much dental drama, I had to admire Raina's fortitude, and I was surprised at how "gory" some of the images were. I guess tweens have stronger stomachs these days than I ever did. ;)