The Covered Smile: A True Story by Sonja Lauren

Foreword by Lynn Douglas Mouden, DDS, MPH

A smile is a terrible thing to hide.But a child whose teeth are missing or rotten will hesitate to show her ugly secret. She knows that her smile will elicit ridicule and astonishment, not a smile in return.

Sonja Lauren was one such child. She has written her story of neglect and emotional starvation, of losing all of her teeth by the vulnerable age of thirteen, and of eventually rising above her early tragedy. Through her own determination and the caring assistance of her dental surgeon and other health professionals and friends, Sonja is living life with a smile that she’s proud for the world to see.

Sonja’s story reminds us of the importance of proper oral hygiene for children and graphically presents the ugly ramifications of dental neglect. It gently chastens parents, health professionals, and other concerned adults to reach out to the neglected child.

Praise for The Covered Smile

“The Covered Smile is an important book as it makes us all aware of the ‘other abuse’—neglect. Sonja has courageously overcome shame to share her powerful story of recovery and forgiveness. This is a story you won’t soon forget.”

—Deborah Hatchell, Executive Assistant to author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series by Jack Canfield

 “The Covered Smile is an incredible tale of abuse, neglect, parenting and triumph. Sonja’s story is a beacon in the night for children, parents and everyone who cares about children.”

—Lynn Douglas Mouden, DDS, MPH, co-founder of P.A.N.D.A.

 “Ms. Lauren has written an eye-opening memoir that is at once heartbreaking and uplifting. She so eloquently describes the life-long consequences of child neglect and also teaches us the importance of looking beyond ‘the troubled child’.”

—Deborah Lowen, MD, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Justice Center

“This book is a book for everyone young and old.  It will make you think of all the pain that was in this woman’s life and how amazing she is and how many people she can help.  Her story is heroic that she can share her suffering to better someone else’s life.  I personally want to thank her for her beautiful spirit that has made me want to be involved in the fight against neglect.  I would recommend this book to everyone.  It is a book you can’t put down till you know the end.  I look forward to more books on the fight on neglect from this very talented author.”

–Debbie Mullins on

“I read this book in two days, I could not put it down.  It is a story of survival and triumph of the human spirit over poverty, neglect and pain.  As a counselor, it brought home to be just how much impact we can have on a child’s life for better or for worse.”

–Diane York Russakoff on

“This is a wonderful story of a woman who survived a life of neglect.  This story will bring tears as you learn of a life of pain for a young girl who felt alone.  Then tears of joy as her life being a mother herself and meeting wonderful people that opened doors of help.  You learn of her triumphs as an adult.  This story will move you.  This story will help others be aware of neglect right in their own back door.”

–A customer on

About the Author

When she attended her first writing class in 1993, Ms. Lauren discovered her gift as a writer. Five years later, she began creating The Covered Smile. Ms. Lauren currently lives in Virginia, where she works as an ophthalmologist’s assistant, and enjoys writing and sharing her new life with her daughter. She is currently working on several new books and looks forward to volunteering her time helping children and adults recover from abuse and neglect.