White Teeth

McKenna Kluemper & Caleb Heidorn

Zadie Smith

Born: October 1975, London, England

Smith was inspired to write about multicultural settings by her mixed family: a British father and Jamaican mother.

Major awards: Whitbread Book Award for 2000

Guardian First Book Award

Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize

Published: January 27, 2000

The story follows the lives of two main families. Throughout the book, each character is discussed and their specific problem highlighted. Different conflicts arise and each time the families are thrown into new disagreements. Because the story focuses on both the teenage and adult perspective it creates a sense of plausibility.

At the book's start, it is 1975 however the reader follows the characters through their lives until the year 2000. The story mainly takes place in Willesden, North London.


Though set in London, White Teeth portrays a sense of community between the two families. Together they manage to survive in the slums of London while holding on to their religion and morals and scrape together enough money to move their families to a safer, if only slightly neighborhood.


Throughout out the book, the reader is in the minds of all of the characters, this in turn means that the reader is privy to everything a character thinks, including things a character might not say out loud. This leads to a more than enjoyable atmosphere of their witty banter and their own private responses to each other.


In a word: no. Throughout the book, Smith changes issues and changes perspective so often that the reader is constantly getting new information, and is never with a character long enough to get bored or for the story to become predictable. This makes for a fast phased story and engaged readers.


In someways it is not, however because of the themes in the book, such as: kids wanting to be their own people, and parents trying to hold onto tradition, White Teeth manages to have an underlying sense of familiarity to teenagers.

Ends well?

During the story Smith introduces an array of different problems including both family troubles and social misunderstandings. In the end, each difficulty is wrapped up one after another in a way that provides a satisfying ending to a well written book.


The Jones Family

Archie- Served in WWII, divorced, attempted suicide, bumbling

Clara- Raised by a Jehovah's witness mother, no front teeth, married and older man

Irie- sensible, intelligent, defiant

The Iqbal Family

Samad- served in WWII, tries to hold onto old roots, has an injured hand from the war

Alsana- demanding, westernized, stubborn, loves to have the upper hand

Magid- oldest by two minutes, intelligent, polite, well dressed

Millant- loud, opinionated, smokes pot, falls back on fundamental Islam