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Welcome to My Planet (where English is Sometimes Spoken) [Paperback]

Shannon Olson
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 July 2001
Shannon is 30 and single. When her relationship falters, she moves home to save money. Once home, she is reluctantly drawn into the sometimes infuriating realm of her mother. Life for Shannon takes on the complexities of Flo's life, as mother and daughter struggle to redefine their own boundaries.

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (5 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140295054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140295054
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,448,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Welcome to my Planet (Where English is Sometimes Spoken) is a refreshing, hilarious, moving novel about a young woman's search for the meaning of life--whether that's finding a man with her name pinned to his jumper, achieving a fulfilling career or just watching TV for want of better companionship and sleeping all day. The story ostensibly revolves around Shannon turning 30, and living with her mother, but through the stories she tells the reader and her counsellor about her childhood, her boyfriends, her siblings and parents--and through the time span that darts over five years or more--the book is much more about being a twentysomething who doesn't quite want to grow up.

Shannon lives in Minneapolis and calls her mother by her first name, Flo, and the mother-daughter interaction has a comforting and yet wry familiarity for any woman, whether living in Melbourne, Manchester or Marseilles. From the frequent phone calls when they're not living together to Shannon not listening to fashion or hair advice when they are in the same house, the exchanges recorded here will not only make you fall off the sofa laughing but also remind you how infuriating mothers can be, however much you love them. When Shannon begins "to grow out her leg and armpit hair" Flo wants to know, in a typical motherly fashion, "...who is dictating the aesthetic of your bikini line? ... Who's controlling that?"

However, by calling her mother by her first name, Flo, and worrying about her mother's old age and unhappiness, Shannon is trying hard to be grown up and motherly herself. It is not until near the end of the novel that her counsellor points that "every child, no matter how old, deserves to have a mother, someone who will cradle them when they need to be cradled". Welcome to my Planet is a unique reminder of that, in an inimitable style, where the language is wholly recognisable, even if English is only "sometimes spoken". --Olivia Dickinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Praise for 'Welcome to my Planet' by Shannon Olson:
‘This is not one to file in the single white female section; it’s much more acidic and interesting than that’ – Maggie O’Farrell, Observer

‘You just can’t get through this book without laughing and nodding knowingly. Comic, candid and completely compelling’ – Essentials

‘An hilarious take on mother-daughter relationships’ – Company

‘Olsen’s observations are elegantly written as well as witty and engaging’ – Times Metro

‘Welcome to My Planet is a hilarious and honest look at what it means to be a young woman’ – Shopsmart.com


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mother Love 4 Mar 2005
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. It was funny and compelling, and also quite dark in places. There's a lot of quirky humour and some deep water as well. This is a heroine with very low self-esteem who muddles through life constantly calling her mum (rather than the other way round. If I had to compare to anyone I'd say more like 'a girl's guide to hunting and fishing'by Melissa Bank than 'Cowboys are my weakness' by Pam Houston (which is the pinnacle of course). However the cover is really bad, and puts it in there with the worst chick-lit, but I'm guessing she didn't have any say over that!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It looked so promising... 2 April 2003
By LinziiM
Format:Paperback
This just didn’t do it for me I’m afraid.
I had more than one attempt at reading this book, and just found it a bit of a struggle from start to finish. I ended up dragging myself through it, just so I could feel like I hadn’t been robbed out of my hard-earned cash!
It tries hard to be some sort of Bridget-Jones-meets-Frasier style neurotic novel, but falls flat on its backside - I never felt like I could relate to the main character in any way.
This character, Shannon Olsen, (same name as the author, I’ll leave the math up to you) really irritated me (no offence!). I honestly felt like she just needed a good slap, a bit of a grip on herself and a decent night out with some honest mates who could set her straight on a few things!
I wasn’t looking for anything highbrow – I read all sorts of books, and sometimes a girl just wants some easy-going “chick lit” to get her through her train journey to work – this tries hard to jump on the bandwagon, and doesn’t quite make it... Which is a shame because it looked so promising.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome 6 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Often you read a book and you think, is this actually based on the author's life? Shannon Olson goes a bit further than that - the main character in the book is even called Shannon Olson. So does this mean that most of it is true??? I think it probably is. And what scared me the most was that, while I was reading it, I would find myself thinking "she is me"! She had all the same neuroses I had, all the same flaws. I think this made the book, already entertaining, even better in my eyes.
Read it. It's worth it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  100 reviews
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I just finished reading it, and I already miss Shannon! 23 May 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What a fabulous book, capturing the TRUE essence of being a 30 something female in the year 2000! I read it all afternoon, lying by the pool. It's the first time I have read a book of this size in one sitting. I simply couldn't put it down! I could so identify with the main character, Shannon, a woman in her mid 20's to early 30's, who deals with grad school, credit card debt, a quirky mom she sometimes resents and sometimes clings to, boyfriends who aren't "the one", and trying to make sense of it all in therapy. The realest coming of age story I have ever read. I can't wait to pass it on to my friends to read, and I can't wait for the author, Shannon Olson, to write her second novel.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A realistic, relatable, and funny character 27 Jun 2000
By A. Maxham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The reviews I had read of this book, both in People magazine, here on Amazon, and elsewhere had led me to believe that this book was a laugh a minute- sorta like Bridget Jones. Well, it is, but it isn't. The Bridget Jones books are cartoons, really- exaggerations of life.
This book is really more realistic and less extreme. Shannon (the main character here) doesn't obsesses and worry about her body every second, but those worries about her thighs and breasts do exist and are a part of her character.
She is 30, she is single, hates her job, dates a loser who treats her like crap and tries to have sex with her while she's asleep, her younger sister does get married out from under her, she is depressed, she does love Target (I hear ya, sister)- but those are the superficial elements of the story.
The way I see it, this story is best exemplified by this: her mom is sick, and needs surgery. Her mom says to Shannon, "Sickness is a part of life. I look at this as an adventure, an opportunity to learn." And Shannon replies, "I hate learning. I wish we could all be dumb and happy." Really, this book is about Shannon's recognition that you can't just stay dumb and happy- that you have to learn and stop making the same mistakes with men and career because otherwise, you'll have the same unhappiness over and over again.
This book is about growing up and realizing that life isn't fair, and people aren't fair, and you have to quit expecting fairness and trying to control things that you have no control over. And it's about recognizing how you got those expectations. Her mom (Flo), asks Shannon, "Did your father and I do this to you? Is it something we didn't do?" And Shannon replies, "Women's magazines did this to me. Watching Love Boat did this. I did this to myself."
I really liked this book- it's quiet and normal- Bridget is chaotic and drunk and smoking and I laughed my way all the way through Bridget. But I could relate to Shannon because she was real, in a way very much like the character in The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing (except not placed in ubiquitous New York).
This does NOT mean that this book isn't funny- it's hilarious. Shannon's sense of humor is extremely dry, and she is really a great writer. I can't wait for her next book.
I really see this book and "Getting Over It" as sort of the next evolution in what could best be described as the Single/30 literature.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightfully engrossing book 5 Sep 2000
By E. M. Carey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It took me less than a day to read Welcome to My Planet as I simply couldn't put it down. The main reason the book is so enjoyable is that the narrator/central character is wonderful. Shannon Olson (the character, not the author, which caused me some momentary confusion about the blurry line between fiction/non-fiction) tells the story of her life, her relationship with her family, her mother and men, her experiences in therapy (boy does she have a good counselor) and graduate school, with humor and insight. As a reader, I felt as though I was peeking into a real life because the details and writing is so engaging.
Aside from Shannon, the other characters are incredibly well-developed, particularly that of her mother, Flo, with whom Shannon has a very intense connection. Despite the fact that all the information provided comes through Shannon's narration, you still get clear picture of the other characters, who in the end seem just as real as Shannon.
This is not a book with lots of action or an intricate plot or any surprise twists or ending. It is simply about one character's life and experiences and her interaction with the people around her. But it is utterly delightful, stocked with characters so real and wonderful that I sometimes felt as though I was reading about someone's life. However difficult a time I'm having conveying what I liked so much about this book, what it boils down to is that it's great and everyone should read it. Perhaps I should have found a more coherent way to say that!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and utterly contemporary 29 May 2000
By CoffeeGurl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a fun book; it sort of reminds me of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing. The book is about Shannon (I wonder if this book is an autobiography disguised as a novel), a neurotic young woman who has no idea what she wants in life. She attends graduate school --subconsciously postponing her life. She's also struggling with boyfriends, careers, and an identity. The heroine seems to have a rather unique relationship with her mother, Flo. The mother and daughter share a common desire: the need for true intimacy. Flo doesn't know if her husband truly loves her. Shannon, like her mother, doesn't know if the men in her life have loved her or used her. This is a great contemporary read, very funny and quite touching. A great piece of fiction. I highly recommend it.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but different 5 July 2001
By Dianna Setterfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's hard to say exactly how I feel about this book -- and probably even harder to explain! Welcome to My Planet is a different kind of novel, one that doesn't just jump right out at you with a clear-cut, black and white, obvious storyline. It's a thinker novel, not breezy or light-hearted. While there are many funny moments, the dark tones outweigh the light ones by far.
Welcome to My Planet is told in parts and interspersed with many counselor sessions that tend to ramble on about the intricate workings of an under-stimulated mind. The heroine, almost-30 Shannon Olson (oddly the same name as the author), is very disappointed in life. She expected everything to be easy and the opposite of what she's gotten so far. Beginning with a no-good boyfriend, a meaningless job, and a obsessive dependency on her mother, Shanny's story seems very miserable and lonely. Her counselor sessions start fairly soon with expectations that maybe she can work her depression out, but the progress is very long and drawn out. Reading this novel was very stressful at times. Shanny was a very unpleasant character, very self-absorbed, never taking care of herself and always obsessing about those around her. While this does not necessarily make this a bad novel, I think for me personally, it made it a little unattractive to enjoy.
Good points about the book: Shanny has a very wry sense of humor which I always enjoy. When reflecting on her growing up years, Shanny and her sister deliver some funny moments. Also Shanny's mother, Flo, is an absolute scene-stealer. I believe the humorous parts is the saving grace of this book -- without them it would be far too depressing.
Sounds like I don't have much good to say. Welcome to My Planet is just a little hard to explain. It's vagueness bothered me, as well as the continuous gear-switching -- going back and forth in time was a little tough to get used to. For those who enjoy a mix of pleasure and pain (psychologists would have a field day with this one), endings that leave room for interpretation, and a diversity in characters, I recommend this book with two thumbs up.
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