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Six years after her amazingly successful debut, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Melissa Bank rewards her fans for their patience with The Wonder Spot, a refreshingly honest interpretation of one young woman's journey into adulthood. As we follow heroine Sophie Applebaum through a comfortable, yet awkward childhood in suburban Pennsylvania to the challenges of finding love and a career in midtown Manhattan, The Wonder Spot is never guilty of the self-indulgent traps set by other members of the Chick Lit genre Bank helped launch.
We first meet the Applebaum clan on their way to cousin Rebecca's bat mitzvah in Chappaqua, New York, where Sophie ends up sneaking cigarettes in the woods with a handsome eighth grader one year her senior. Yet even this minor rebellion is more charming than anything else; as with most of her future transgressions, Sophie is less the instigator than the innocent witness. Defining moments in Sophie's life are revealed through her relationships: an almost mythical college roommate named Venice; her charismatic yet capricious older brother; her brilliant younger brother; her unpenetrable father; and her hilarious grandmother, who takes it upon herself to save her "Sophila" from "impending spinsterhood." Of course no real journey into young womanhood is complete without a series of committment phobic, potentially deliquent, overly nice men whose appearances seem less about love than about demonstrating our heroine's inability to ever truly be comfortable with herself. As Sophie observes during a seventh grade skating party, "I felt sure that everyone was looking at me and then realized that no one was, and i experienced the distinct shame of each."
Undeniably clever, occasionally hilarious, and often poignant, The Wonder Spot is captivating enough for readers to forgive Sophie's indecisive, self-destructive tendancies and simply bask in her sincerity. --Gisele Toueg
|Wonder Woman: An Amazon.com Interview with Melissa Bank|
Melissa Bank's bestselling 1999 debut, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, took readers by storm and heralded the wave of Chick Lit to follow in its wake. Bank is back with her new book, The Wonder Spot, a series of interconnected stories chronicling the bittersweet misadventures of middle-child Sophie Applebaum, from adolescence to adulthood. Amazon.com senior editor Brad Thomas Parsons exchanged e-mail with Bank to talk about writer's block, Curtis Sittenfeld's very public take-down in the Sunday Times, and the dreaded "c" word--Chick Lit.
|Wonder Woman: An Amazon.com Interview with Melissa Bank|
Starred Review. Fans of the megasuccessful Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing, rejoice. Bank is back with an equally entertaining first novel, starring Sophie Applebaum, a sarcastic, self-deprecating middle child from a suburban Jewish family who moves from a fish-out-of-water adolescence to a how-did-I-get-here adulthood. Likable Sophie's (mis)adventures in life and love include an attempt to use lyrics from Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe" to argue against the necessity of attending Hebrew school and a penchant for imagining her future life with men she barely knows (a potential beau's ability to cook fish becomes "a metaphor for the hard things we will face together"). A slightly cynical yet romantic optimism grounds Sophie—and gives Bank plenty of opportunities for clever quips: cribbing a career objective in publishing from a résumé handbook, Sophie diligently copies exercises found in the long-overdue library book 20th Century Typing, including "Know Your Typewriter," and she agrees to a blind date with a pediatric surgeon by noting that she possesses her own "pediatric heart." But this isn't just another urban chick-lit bildungsroman; Bank's work also features the intriguing transformations of the other Applebaums: a grandmother's slip into senility, Sophie's mother's dip into infidelity, a brother's turn toward Orthodox Judaism. Through it all, Sophie never quite escapes the sense of being a "solid trying to do a liquid's job," a feeling as frightening as it is familiar to those struggling to achieve a grownup self-awareness. Engrossing, engaging—it's a wonderful return for Bank. 12-city author tour. Agent, Molly Friedrich. (June 7)
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I really loved this author's first book but this one almost seemed to be mirroring her debut book a little too much. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Colleen Kant
There's not a spare word in this collection of short stories. The dialogue is immaculate, spot on, full of the author's great heart for love's foibles. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Magdalene Brandeis
I loved it!! Melissa Bank has once again created funny and poignant characters that kept me interested and wishing there were more. Read morePublished 15 months ago by maria fadiman
Bank’s first book is often cited as kick starting the “Chick Lit” trend, with an emphasis on “Lit”. Her debut in 1999 was refreshing, touching, witty and wise. Read morePublished 20 months ago by katie78
Cut to the Chase:
A series of connected short stories, The Wonder Spot chronicles a young woman’s maturation from awkward young woman (black sheep of the family) into... Read more
I love this book. I don't understand why people don't. I read Girl's Guide. I liked it fine, but I never read it again. Read morePublished 23 months ago by J. Newman
i love this book so much. the main character, sophie, is so relatable she almost felt like a friend. Read morePublished 24 months ago by bookworm
I've read this book many times, and listened to the audiobook (excellent reading by the author) many more; I always find the same pleasure in the adventures of the critical,... Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by Nero