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Heartwarming / Smile Sisters Duology

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  • How much Sue loves her daughter. Like any good mother, Sue constantly goes whatever she can to make Raina as happy and healthy as possible, and has an active role in her daughter's life, even if she's a little embarassing to Raina at times.
    • Unlike in most stories about teenagers, Raina is never overtly hostile towards her mother and has a generally good relationship with her. There's only one or two moments where she blows up at or with her mom, meaning the good/happy moments - seeking her comfort and wisdom on multiple occasions and thanking her for her help (see the end of the book where Sue drops her off at the dance and earlier when Sue roasts a bunch of dentists who conduct surgery on her without consent - easily outweigh the bad.
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    • Likewise, Raina's dad clearly cares for her even if he's not able to be in her life as much as her mother is. He always is happy to see her and she seems to have a genuine camraderie with him.
  • Amara and Raina celebrating their power coming back after the earthquake. Earlier, Sue begging Will to come to her (he's right under a heavy bookcase that could crush him if it falls) and hugging him as soon as she can.
  • A more easily missed one is how Melissa, while not without her flaws, is noticeably nicer than Raina's other friends. Sure, she joins in on teasing Raina, but she also comforts Raina after their teacher embarasses her in front of the class by telling them that Raina has a crush on Sean. Furthermore, Raina initially only tells Melissa about her crush on Sammy, most likely expecting her to keep it secret (she does for about ten minutes, but she still does her best to give Raina legitimate dating advice)Also, there's Melissa's last words to Raina before they part ways and go to different high schools:
    Melissa: Later ... hey Raina? Don't forget to smile!
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  • Dr. Dragoni is a pretty chill dude who likes Raina, even if she isn't too fond of him constantly sticking sharp metal objects into her mouth.
  • Raina's new friends. They readily take her in under their wing and genuinely like her, encouraging her to embrace her love for drawing (she met Theresa thanks to her work on a poster); just as importantly, they never give her flack for her appearance unlike Raina's old "friends".
    • Case in point: when Raina's braces are finally removed and she thinks her teeth look like weird.
    Theresa: Raina! You just got your braces off, right?
    Raina: Ummm...
    Theresa: Let's see!
    (Raina reluctantly opens her mouth just enough for her friends to see)
    Theresa: Neat.
    (Raina's eyes open super wide)
    Theresa: Did you study for our bio test? I was up half the night reading -
    Raina: Wait, wait... so you guys don't notice anything weird? Nothing about my teeth seems bizarre to you?
    Theresa: Mmm...nope. Is this some sort of trick? You look cute!
    • Cue the ending narration where Raina talks about the positive effects of her happier, less pessimistic outlook on her appearance. It's extremely uplifting to see this girl so happy and friendly after all the shit she went through.


  • Wil's admiration for his father; he's the only one of the Telgemeier children who idolizes Denis especially (which makes sense since Amara has a pretty cynical view of both her parents and Raina is too old to hero worship either of her parents).
  • Raina and Amara bonding by making jokes about Nevada, the silver state. "Looks more like the brown state".
  • Even if they don't really pay much attention to her, Lindsay and Raina's other cousins are pretty decent to her. It's clear that they don't hate her but merely don't know/are unable to connect with her.
  • Amara's relationship/love for animals. First sign that she has a strong heart of gold underneath all that grumpiness.
  • The ending. Raina finally realizes that she's been blind to her parents' failing marriage due to her escaping reality with her Walkman. After agreeing to help Mango in exchange for batteries for her Walkman, Raina goes to put her Walkman back on ... but turns to look at her little sister and takes the headphones off. Amara is visibly touched by this. The last few panels show Raina reading from Amara's atlas, laughing at one of Amara's jokes, and the van driving back home. It's a surprisingly sweet and meaningful ending.

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