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Telgemeier Family

     Raina 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/raina_telgemeier.jpg
“Weird...something happens when you smile at people. They smile back”.

“But the more I focused on my interests, the more it brought out things I liked about myself”

The main character of both Smile and Sisters. Raina knocked both of her front teeth out at the age of 11 while running, leading to a long and embarassing dental journey. She is artistic, and initially shy and insecure about her looks, but grows to become a more self-confident person.


  • Adorkable: As the main page says, she's shy, insecure, nice (despite a few low moments) and a bit geeky.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: She originally let her friends walk all over her,making her even more insecure and miserable than before. Then they pants her in the courtyard and she drops them.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Downplayed, if not outright averted. All of Raina's treatments are pretty standard given the late 80s/early 90s setting.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: To an extent; she's not that bad but can be a whiner.
  • Break the Cutie: Her friends' bullying comes to a head when they pull her skirt off, causing her to run to the bathroom crying.
  • Butt-Monkey: Constantly being teased, bullied, or embarrassed. Although some of it is pretty funny.
  • Character Development: Raina becomes more assertive and confident as the book goes on. This is evident when you compare two specific scenes of her friends bullying her (see Bitch In Sheep's Clothing and Actually Pretty Funny). In the first incident, Raina calls out her friends but does not take further action when they ignore her complaints. In the second incident, she breaks up with them.
  • Crush Blush: Does this often in Smile when around Sammy or Sean.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Not as much as Amara, but still present. It's not as prevalent after she made new friends. A good example comes early in Smile when she puts on her headgear for the first time.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: BIG TIME. After an entire book of adolescent embarrassment and drama, gains some new friends and badly needed self-confidence, even if her teeth still don't look perfect.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Was this towards her younger sister.
  • Hidden Depths: Raina loves comics and is an excellent artist. Her love for drawing is, in part, inspired by her watching The Little Mermaid.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Early in the book, Raina expresses insecurities about her appearance to Jane (who, coincidentally, is the only one of her friends who is consistently nice to her). Jane doesn't take Raina seriously and maintains that someone at her school has to like her. Raina then delivers this gem:
    Raina: Well ... Jeremiah likes me ... and Abraham ... and Elias ... so do Dan, and Andre, and Matt P..., oh, and Aaron, and Stephen ... but they don't count, I mean cute boys!
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: The source of Raina's insecurities about her face.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Raina's reaction to her orthodontist explaining they'll have to remove her two front teeth.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When Jane tells Raina she's moving away, Raina tries to look on the bright side that she gets a fresh start and a (hopefully) roomy home. But Jane doesn't want a fresh start: she just wants to stay with her friends.
  • Jerkass Ball: Grabs this whenever she has to deal with Amara's pet snake.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As a teenager but admittedly, she leans closer to the "Heart of Gold" part, being occasionally grouchy and cynical due to being teased and a desire to look grown up, but nevertheless caring deeply for her family and being friendly and compassionate to anyone who reciprocates. Many of her worst moments are spurred by fear or insecurity. She upgrades to a NiceGirl due to her new friends.
  • Nice Girl: After maturing a bit. Also before puberty, as she is a sweet, friendly girl in Guts.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Raina quickly befriends a cute and sweet 6th Grader named Sammy on her first day of 7th Grade; it's clear that the two have a crush on one another relatively quickly. By the time the next school dance is around the corner, however, Raina has a crush on another boy, Sean. Because of her conflicting emotions and disappointment Sean won't attend the dance, Raina doesn't go to the dance after promising Sammy she would. Heartbroken, Sammy breaks off his friendship with her.
  • Nice Mean And Inbetween: Seemingly the Inbetween, being a bit less grumpy and more personable than Amara while also being quicker to anger and selfishness than Will. However, when snakes are involved, she and Amara switch places; furthermore, Amara is shown to be just as sympathetic as Raina and having a better relationship with animals than her older sister so it's more complex than "Perfect brother, good sister, evil sister"
  • Pubescent Braces: The main focus of Smile
  • Rise of Zitboy: Realistically played but still present.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Knocked out her two front teeth.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Very downplayed, but Raina is a little meaner as a teenager than she was as a preteen.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She's very scared of snakes, due to stepping on a dead one at a young age, to the point where she wanted Amara to leave Mango in the desert.

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     Amara 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/smile2.jpg
“Punch bug. I called it, you just didn't hear me!

“The difference between you and me is that I don't care”.

Raina's younger sister. Their relationship is the main driving force for drama in Sisters.


  • Always Someone Better: Is this to Raina, who accuses her of stealing her thunder.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Raina sees her as this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Probably more than anyone else in the family; she has the best lines in Sisters.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Huge fan of all animals; other people? Not so much
  • Jerkass Hasa Point: When asked her if she ever felt out of place, Amara said she feels like that all the time, but the difference between her and Raina is that Amara doesn’t care and always be herself. Raina always tries too hard to blend in with the crowd and acts like something she’s not.
    • She even called out Raina for saying how she’s not being nice to her because she genuinely feel bad, she knows Raina being nice to her just so she wouldn’t feel bad about herself.
    • Once again when she and Raina was in the middle of the desert waiting for their mother to come back for help. When Raina was complaining about her Walkman now dead, Amara angrily pointed out they have bigger things to worry about.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Snarky and cynical, but still loves her family and animals (especially deer).
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Implied to have this.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: At first glance she is the Mean to Raina's Inbetween and Will's Nice. However, it's shown that she is just as lost and confused as her older sister who she eventually reconciles with, and has a soft spot for animals.
  • Only Sane Woman: When she's stuck in a van with her older sister in the desert; Raina starts to panic after Will and their mother have been gone for a few hours and starts ranting about food, their family going into a truck with a mysterious man, and her walkman being dead while Amara tries to get her to calm down.
  • The Smart Girl: The most knowledgeable about animals of the three Telgemeier children, and the only one to bring a book on the trip. Raina even admitted that she felt that Amara was smarter than her in an interview as an adult.

     Will 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/will_7.png
"Daddy! We get to see Daddy tonight! Yayyyy! Daddy, daddy, bo-baddy, banana-fana, fo-faddy...

“Dinosaurs. Dieeee-no-saur. Dinoooooooo. Di-di-di-di-di...”

Raina and Amara's younger brother. Will is a fairly typical Cheerful Child who idolizes his father and loves dinosaurs.

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: How Amara and Rainanote  view him.

  • Nice Guy: He's very sweet, if a bit hyperactive and loud. As an adult, Will is apparently very laid-back and friendly.

     Sue 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/i_dunno.jpg
“Amara, please don't tease her”.

“I don't care! My daughter just fainted thanks to your negligence!”

The matriarch of the Telgemeier family. She is often the Only Sane Woman and is particularly close to her daughter.


  • Beware the Nice Ones: Don't hurt her children. If you are her children, don't misbehave in the car.
  • Foil: While both are caring parents who love their children, she and her husband have very acute differences. She has a more involved outlook on child-rearing than him, can't stand baseball while he's obsessed with it, and (ironically) hates when he keeps bugging her about properly packing.
  • Good Parents: More in Smile and Sisters, which focuses more on her relationship with Raina. She's always polite and kind, and does whatever she can to make Raina's life better.
    • Parents as People: More in Sisters, which hyper-focuses on a short and stressful period of time. She loses her temper with her children more and its revealed that her marriage is straining her.
  • Hartman Hips: She's pear shaped by the time of Smile (although she has a more realistic waistline than most examples). Justified, since she gave birth to three full-sized babies.
  • Mama Bear: Her character quote is her reaction after learning that dentists operated on Raina without her expressed permission. She's generally quick to give Raina advice and is very
  • Mellow Fellow: A female example., albeit downplayed. She certainly has a temper when her daughter is hurt or when her children wear on her nerves too much, but she is usually quite patient.
  • Nice Girl: She's quite friendly and clearly loves her children.
  • Only Sane Woman: Is this on the road trip to her hyperactive son and cynical, occasionally immature daughters.
  • Out of Focus: In Sisters, up until the reveal at the end.

     Denis 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/denis_11.jpg
"Maybe we should feed her to the wolves!"

“Why don't you try banging it against the wall? That way, when you stop banging, it'll hurt less!”

The patriarch of the Telgemeier family. He is occasionally a Bumbling Dad and [[Foil the polar opposite to his wife.]]

  • Bumbling Dad: Not the best at keeping house and will feed his children cheese for dinner. He is very caring however and evidently pretty smart, considering he works a decent paying computer job. So he's more unaware than dim.
  • Deadpan Snarker: See his page quote (a response to Raina complaining about a headache after getting her braces put on). It's clear where Raina and Amara got their snark from.
  • Foil: While both are caring parents who love their children, he and his wife have very acute differences. He has a more casual outlook on child-rearing than her, is obsessed with baseball while she can't stand it, and (ironically) keeps bugging her about properly packing.
    Sue: Now go home and watch baseball as early in the morning as you want and grind your coffee as early in the morning as you please.
  • Nice Guy: He's a chill dude
  • Out of Focus: In all three books, compared to his wife.
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Raina's Classmates

     Jane 
Raina's best friend in Guts. Moves between Guts and Smile.
  • Adorkable: She's a very shy and nice girl who loves drawing and stuffed animals, just like Raina. Raina at one point lampshades that Jane is the only one of her friends who's less mature than her.
  • Character Focus: Appears for a handful of panels in Smile, but she's a major supporting character in Guts, which takes place before she moves away.
  • Kiddie Kid:
  • Nice Girl: Probably the only one of Raina's friends (besides Sammy) who isn't mean to her at some point.
     Michelle 
Raina's rival in Guts.

Alternative Title(s): Guts Raina Telgemeier

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