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Smile back

Raina Telgemeier


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

Smile? Hmm... I guess we'll have to take a new Polaroid.
Your mouth looks pretty different from the last time we were here.
We'll start with brackets on two fronts and band her molars.
That way, she can start with the headgear right away...

Ouch. After tripping and falling in a seemingly innocuous accident coming home one night from Girl Scouts, Raina severely damages her two front teeth, one of which comes flying right out, the other being rammed right up into her jaw bone. What follows is a very long and painful journey, both physically and emotionally, for an otherwise typical teenage girl just beginning her last year of junior school. First it's the attempt to save her existing teeth with emergency treatment and braces. Then it's surgery to remove the teeth when that fails, followed by having to wear a retainer fitted with fake front teeth which are gradually reduced in size over time, whilst her own teeth are painfully dragged forward by yet more braces to fill the gap. All of which is rather excruciating to say the least for a girl who is also dealing with hitting puberty, getting interested in boys, and having to cope with a surprising lack of support from her friends. Ah yes, and an earthquake too.

The fact that this story is autobiographical makes it even more heartfelt for the reader when you see what Raina has to go through, and although she does seem to have been a rather resilient girl, you can plainly see it really did get her understandably quite down at times. She seems a cheerful soul these days considering though, and I'm pleased to report she has a lovely beaming smile.
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