The Wonder Spot
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The Wonder Spot

3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  5,233 ratings  ·  668 reviews
Melissa Bank's runaway bestseller, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, charmed readers and critics alike with its wickedly insightful, tender look at a young woman's forays into love, work, and friendship. Now, with The Wonder Spot, Bank is back with her signature combination of devilishly self-deprecating humor, seriousness and wisdom.

Nothing comes easily to Sophie A...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 2005)
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Abigail Hillinger
Apr 18, 2007 Abigail Hillinger rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anybody who just can't get it right with relationships.
Shelves: fiction
Melissa Bank is not Chick-Lit.

And why is that?

Because her heroines never fixate on their weight, their clothing, their hairstyle, their men.

Bank has this way of skimming over all of those, and while the men are still existing (especially in Wonder Spot), her heroine Sophie is analyzing more why she needs them than the fact that she DOES need them.

Sophie can't commit. She doesn't order for herself in restaurants or at bars. She has no ambition or ideals for what she wants to do. Every relationsh...more
Kate
Aug 17, 2007 Kate rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not really anyone...
The pointless ending made me realize how pointless Sophie's life is. I felt disappointed for her. She seems unable to love, or unable to commit. Is it that hard to fall in love with one of her many boyfriends? No one is perfect, but that doesn't mean no one is worth your love. I think Sophie is typical of many people in our culture, which makes me sad. The writing is not bad (despite its many similarities to The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing); if you're a mediocre, middle class person, you...more
Tory
“I hesitated, but when she handed the cigarette to me I took it, and when she lit the match I leaned forward. I imitated my mother accepting a light from my father and exhaled as she did, ceiling-ward.

Margie held her own cigarette between her teeth like a killer; she was imitating someone, too - maybe the Penguin from Batman.”

“Up until that moment, I’d been at the earliest stage of love, when you feel it will turn you into the person you want to be. Now, his gentle voice and sage advice took me...more
Taylor K.
Jul 11, 2014 Taylor K. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like memoirs from women with relationship issues
I'm so-so about this book. I found it very uneven. There's a clear division here - childhood, relationships - both of which can be interesting in the hands of the right writer. It's obvious that she writes well, and this has its magical moments, but overall it wasn't quite what I was hoping for. As she gets more and more into the relationships, she speaks less on her life outside of them and jumps from one to the other, without transitioning very effectively. The ending also feels like a huge co...more
Manda
I saw Melissa Bank speak while I was still in college in 2005, when she had finished "The Wonder Spot" but had not yet published it. I really liked "The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing," so when I saw this book at the Dollar Store (for a dollar!), I just couldn't pass it up.

"The Wonder Spot" follows Sophia Applebaum from late adolescence to adulthood and chronicles events & feelings that many of us experience: loss of a loved one, the disappointment of a failed romance, and anxiety over...more
Stephanie
Nov 07, 2010 Stephanie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephanie by: Night Owl Book Club
I liked (not loved) this book. I found myself not wanting to put it down, but mostly out of hope. Hope that the main character Sophie would soon have some breakthrough towards maturity. Throughout the book, and especially toward the end, I alternated between hopeful expectation and frustration. There were times that I found myself nodding and thinking "I've done that / felt that / wished I was or wasn't that". However, there were more times I felt myself getting frustrated with Sophie's seemingl...more
Alison
Aug 11, 2008 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All those who've spent more than 10 years single
Whoever said those who were mediocre and middle class might like this was apparently right. I'm presumed to be both, and I think Melissa Bank has the best handle on the three-dimensional reality of being a single woman of anyone writing about "bachelorettes" today. Her protagonist has strong family relationships, complex friendships, moves through serious career changes, goes to school more than once, and gets beyond herself to examine others who have the same set of life's trials and tribulatio...more
Michelle
This is Banks' followup to A Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing. She follows a young Jewish woman from girlhood to adulthood through relationship after relationship, each one seeming like the end all at the time. It's interesting to see the character's point of view change over time, as well as to witness the changing/maturing of her familial relationships.
Sharon
This book sucked. I like the statement in the review that a woman named Kate left about this book-Sophie's life is pointless. And since the book is centered around her-thus the book is pointless. Sophie is not likeable-she's a train wreck, which is fine to be a train wreck and to center a book about a train wreck but there is nothing redemptive about this character. Sophie never learns anything, her life never improves, she never learns anything about herself and relationships, it is just a blah...more
Lain
Confusing. Inconsistent. Boring. Not the best three adjectives in the world if you're looking for the next great read.

After a terrific debut with "Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing" (which I loved), Bank came out with this...a series of short stories following the life and loves of Sophie Applebaum as she matures from an insecure pre-teen to an insecure teen, to -- guess what? -- an insecure adult.

The problem is not Bank's writing, which is clear and filled with clever descriptions and turns...more
Katherine
I was completely disappointed with this book. Although some parts were funny, I thought that author Melissa Bank kept the reader too much at bay by jumping from one time frame to another, choosing to tell readers some of the mundane events of her protagonist's (Sophie Appelbaum) life, and in some cases, refusing to elaborate about some of the most important events of her life (her father's death, for instance).

I didn't feel too close to Sophie, which unfortunately, means that I couldn't care les...more
Alison
I thought the book was well-written and perceptive but I got tired of Sophie's passivity and her inability to commit to a relationship or a career. And as so many other readers have commented, I thought the ending was contrived. My favorite part of the book is actually the chapter in which her sharp-tongued grandmother has a stroke and becomes sweet--if only it weren't combined with a description of an annoying doctor Sophie is dating. Although each chapter can stand alone, Bank makes desultory...more
Jeanette
"It is a strange thing to end a friendship, even if you know it's what you want. It's like a death; all of a sudden your experience of a person becomes finite."

On being in love: "The world's most coveted state is characterized by unrelieved insecurity and almost constant pain."

"The good thing about being nowhere in your career is that you can do it anywhere."

Terry
Oh my god, I LOVED this book! One of my favorites. Warning: with one exception, everyone else I recommended this book to didn't respond the way I did. (Which of course I took to be their failing, not the book's. Heh.)
Tamara
I really like Melissa Bank as an observer, and this book has a lot of passages that take her out of the realm of "chick-lit" (if she ever was in it) and into the category of writer who wastes her talents on talking about the same people in every book. I really connect to her descriptions of the places she sets this book's stories in, and to certain aspects of her protagonist's character and story arc, but ultimately I think Bank falls short of drawing a complete or compelling human being in Soph...more
Sarah
The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank is unique chick-lit in that it combines extreme sarcasm, humor, and wit with your typical coming-of-age novel.

Our heroine is Sophie Applebaum, a Jewish girl with two brothers, a judge for a father, and a scatter-brained mother. We meet Sophie initially when she is about twelve years old, and we join her in growing up well into her late thirties or so. Along the way we encounter and share with Sophie her many boyfriend experiences, as well as adventures with schoo...more
Rachel
Jun 22, 2013 Rachel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
I read this book for my monthly book club. I admittedly had never heard of Melissa Bank, which is probably one of my favorite aspects of being in a book club. It exposes me to new authors!

After taking an unfortunate significant hiatus from leisurely reading as a result of a chaotic spring, Bank's The Wonder Spot was a good book to get me back into reading. I liked the unique structure of her book. Rather than traditional chapters, this book had several sections chronicling different points of So...more
Karen Hansen
I wanted to give Melissa Bank a second chance after being underwhelmed with her debut novel, but I found her follow-up, "The Wonder Spot" to be equally underwhelming. This is not to say that the novel is without merit, as there are things that Bank does very well.

She doesn't write plot, she write slice of life and character sketches. This entire book comprised of slices of the main character, Sophie Applebaums, life. It's an examination of how a woman grows (or is stuck) as she develops relation...more
Terry
The Wonder Spot was a mostly enjoyable read. It was full of humor and captivating characters that drew me in and made it difficult to put down.

The book highlights a series of memorable, character-shaping experiences throughout the life of Sophie Applebaum. Through these snippets, the reader follows Sophie on her quest to discover her place in the world and find contentment in her career and love life. Sophie is a very relatable character: she experiences awkward moments, friction between hersel...more
Becca
A GIRL'S GUIDE TO HUNTING & FISHING got passed around my friends in college after a very smart professor included it on her women & lit syllabus. Fortunately for me, the dearth of what I think I want to read at the Shirlington Library made me find THE WONDER SPOT.

It was cathartic. I could have written the chapter "Teen Romance" and "The One After You." Slight spoiler: I welled up a bit reading the "Teen Romance" one in particular. I had almost exactly the same experience earlier this spr...more
Gale Martin
May 10, 2008 Gale Martin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: N-KNEE-ONE
Recommended to Gale by: Melissa Bank herself
I first heard of Ms. Bank last fall when our Sunday paper ran an advance on her appearance at a local college. In the article she resisted being called a writer of chick lit, noting the media's tendency to lump all women authors of a certain age together as chick lit writers.

Now that I have read both her books, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing being her first, I understand why Ms. Bank doesn't like the categorization.

Nor is she that handily categorized.

Not that I'm too high-brow for chick...more
Angeld01
This book was terrible! Several years ago I read "The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing." And was excited when this one came out.

Our protagonist is a girl named Sophie who is in BAD need of anti-depressants or a therapist or something. Everything she does is sad and depressing, and everyone around her is sad and depressing. She is good and nothing, appreciates nothing and no one. Also, the story is told in little vignettes...so nothing is ever finished. She's having problems at work, awe, but t...more
Alice
Yet another $2 book from Goodwill. I remember vaguely liking Melissa Bank's first book, but I also remember feeling some ambivalence about it, which I also feel here. While it's an engrossing book - I stayed up late reading it - the main character is just sort of a sad sack. She's non-committal, lazy, passive, and not particularly intelligent, and at one point I just wanted to smack her and yell at her that her problems were of her own making and to stop whining about it. But I suppose lots of p...more
Greta
I know, I know-- it's not technically a memoir but it reads like one, so smoothly. A series of vingettes, the book is compelling in its crafting of characters and the interweaving of character relationships. Sophie specifically we get to know intimately as we follow her through these pieces of her life, but my favorite bits were the portraits of the more peripheral people-- her maternal grandmother and brothers in particular. Definitely an entertaining read, and a nostalgic visit back to New Yor...more
Susan
I really enjoyed The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing when it was the hot ticket...just realized a few days ago I had never read her other books. WHAT???? There's only one other novel???? (I'm not counting The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine since it is so short and hard to get a copy of). The Wonder Spot is a great book, just right for every modern woman who suffered the indignities of dating the wrong guys. I'm not Jewish, or a New Yorker, or as young as Sophie is, but I can relate...more
Katie O'Rourke
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. The long awaited follow-up may come as a disappointment to many fans.
Like Girl’s Guide, The Wonder Spot challenges definition. It is not exactly a novel, but not simply a collection of short stories. Each story -- and there are seven here -- could stand on its own. The stories compiled here are connected by the same narrator and often re...more
sosser
i am in love with melissa banks' writing. the wonder spot is just as enjoyable a read as her girl's guide was. the razor sharp wit and concise observations abound, all wrapped up in a truly good story. in her late thirties, sohpie finds herself at a hip party in brooklyn (and i find my favorite quote):

"The women are young, young, young, liquidy and sweet-looking; they are the batter, and i am the sponge cake they don't know they'll become. I stand here, a lone loaf, stuck to the pan."

Pgchuis
I read this ages ago, but remembered almost nothing about it. I liked the humour: e.g. "She picked up " The House of Mirth", which had now taken her longer to read than it took Edith Wharton to write" and also the dynamics of the relationships between Sophie, her parents and her brothers.

But... she was a bit hopeless. It didn't seem to occur to her that people might not like her to sleep on their couch for months because she was spending that time trying to increase her typing speed so she coul...more
Claire
I really enjoyed this. I took a break from fiction for a while by and large and realized after reading this that I shouldn't, especially if I'm a fiction writer. I love that Bank can write fiction for/about women without it being chick litty. She's funny and sad and insightful and her characters don't have to be SATC cutouts without being "women characters." I want another book from her soon.
Stephanie
At first I didn’t think I was going to like The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank, because I didn’t like its protagonist, Sophie. Sandwiched between a cute and popular older brother, and a hardworking genius younger brother, Sophie is the middling middle child. The book begins with Sophie at about age twelve and follows her into adulthood. Each chapter could stand alone as a short story, which is in fact how I first encountered the title story, in the collection Speaking with the Angel, edited by Nick...more
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“You smell like a bar," he said.
I thought, You smell like a library. But I wanted to have sex right then, so I said, "You smell like a poem.”
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“You did the best you could," and she seemed to believe I had.

I said, "I've just been going through the motions," using the expression my father had after he'd watched my first tennis lesson.

"Sweetie," she said, "that's what a lot of life is.”
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