Weekly Meeting: Smile



  • None…

What You Should Know:

  • This is a YA graphic novel
  • It takes place in the 1990s
  • This is a memoir of the author


Smile is not a book I originally expected to read.  With all the books already on my TBR list, I only ended up with it because it fit in the Read Harder Challenge, when others in my collection did not.  Why?  The challenge topic has two parts.  One, it had to be a non-superhero graphic novel.  That’s easy, all of my graphic novels are non-superhero.  In fact, they are almost all horror.  Two, it had to be written in the last 3 years.  That’s where I got hung up.  So, I went hunting for something that worked and Smile is what I found.  Even though it’s not in the past 3 year, I am glad I did- this is a great graphic novel for girls in middle-school.  You can read it right after Lumberjanes!  Side note, I am going to the sequel for the Read Harder Challenge- it is from 2014.  I read this because I hate to read books out of order.

ANYWAY- here are some discussion questions:

1- Art is one of Raina’s favorite activities and usually keeps her busy when she is worried about something. Which activities help you clear your mind?

I have mentioned my introversion in other posts.  My home is my space that helps me regain energy, but there needs to be some activity to go with it.  It can often be as simple as cuddling on the couch with Cedric or Sabine while I watch TV, but typically I need to be doing something else.  Two things help me clear my mind: knitting and reading. Even better: both at the same time.  This is why audiobooks are so important to me.  Both allow me to focus on something outside of any problems or anxieties.  I often find the important break-throughs and AH-HA moments come when I am knitting or reading.

2- Raina believes that her friends say mean things to her to make themselves feel better. Do you think she is right? Why or why not?

The issue of friendship is a big one for this story.  It just briefly touches on the issue of the friends we have in our lifetime.  I was not a kid who went through her K-12 feeder schools.  I went into magnet programs starting in middle school.  I went into two completely different feeder patterns in middle school and high school.  It made my collection of childhood friendships very different.  I did not keep many of my grade school friends when I went to middle school.  I did not keep my middle school friends when I went to high school.  These people were my friends because of circumstances.  Even when I went to college, I kept few of these friends.  To this day, I can count on my hands the friends I have from those days (Carolyn from grade school, Sally from middle school, and Emily from high school).  I never really hung onto friends who I didn’t connect with or who made me feel bad about myself.

I think most of my friends have large collections of people they went to school with.  I saw most of my friends struggle with friendships they had because they were neighbors or had always been friends.  Facebook makes us feel guilty for not keeping these people in our lives.  I am shocked at the number of people with Facebook friends they don’t even like.  I just can’t fathom letting people have that power over me.  To see someone my own age comment about it as an adult, even if it isn’t more than a moment of empowerment, makes me feel like someone in my generation gets this.  If the people we consider friends make us feel bad or guilty, then that is going to reflect on how we feel about ourselves.  You can’t surround yourself with negativity and hope to be the sparkling light of sunshine in your life.

Who Will Like This:

  • I think women my age will like this (late 30s- early 40s… the tail end of Gen X) as a look back at what it was like to be that age.
  • I think those same women with daughters about to hit this age may enjoy reading it with their daughters.
  • I think people who liked Lumberjanes for it’s girl friendly message will enjoy this.

Other Books Read This Week:

  • As I Lay Dying – yes, Faulkner…
  • Monster – I felt this was a good lead into Black History Month.  It was intense.



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