Meet Sophie Applebaum. She is a seemingly ordinary, quirky young girl from Philadelphia who grows up with her share of life’s challenges, most of which are not any more or less exciting than those of the average person. She attends school, begrudgingly attends certain after-school activities, establishes and outgrows friendships, argues with but loves her parents and siblings, works to establish a career, and falls in and out of love. Melissa Bank’s transformation of the ordinary trials and tribulations of a young girl into such a heart-warming and extraordinary story is the basis for this treat of a second novel, The Wonder Spot.
While devouring this book (which follows six years behind her equally entertaining first novel, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing), I could not help but think ahead to the time when I would sit at my computer to pen a review. Aside from the fact that I knew when I began that task it would mean that this charming book would have come to an end, I knew it would be a challenge to give the novel justice in a review. The premise of the novel is no more complex than “a girl grows up.” It is this simplicity and the absence of unnecessary drama, heartache or despair that makes her story such a welcome part of a rainy afternoon.
Prepare yourself to fall in love with Sophie Applebaum (if for no other reason than you see some reflection of your life in her). And, even better, prepare yourself for a novel by a female author that transcends the “girl chases boy but ends up being a better person theme” that, while amusing for a once-in-a-while beach read, is an overused theme that begs for its own retirement. I’ve read that author Melissa Bank dislikes the term “chic lit” because it suggests a narrow appeal to a specific female demographic. While I do not necessary agree with her characterization, kudos to her for penning a novel that doesn’t deserve to be shelved in any specific category but should stand on its own as a beautifully written and thoroughly enjoying read from start to finish. I only hope that Bank will not make her fans wait another six years for her next adventure. I, for one, am already counting the days.