It's time to make mention of my most favorite book of all time. Shannon Olson spoke in my Creative Writing class my freshman year of college. We had a sample of her writing to read before she spoke, and I loved the chapter so much, I went to the bookstore and bought Welcome to My Planet and read it in a day. Like a nerd (but a cool nerd), the day she spoke, I asked her to sign my copy.
The main character, Shannon (it's a novel, but Olson readily admits that many situations are pulled from her own life), is nearing 30 and reexamining her life. (Maybe she's reaching her quarterlife crisis or her Saturn return, as mentioned by Willikat?) We learn about Shannon's neuroses, her love life (mostly gone bad), her friends, her boss, her nameless counselor, and my favorite character, her mom Flo. Shannon is a blond haired, blue eyed, St. Olaf grad (probably the only Catholic at St. Olaf by the way) from Chaska, Minn., and she's oh so relatable, especially if you're a 20-something female from the Midwest. Her mom is our mom, her mess ups are our mess ups. The story follows her through this time in her life - going back to school, moving in with a new boyfriend, breaking up with said boyfriend, her relationships with her siblings (who seem like our siblings). Her sarcastic, self-deprecating humor made me laugh out loud so many times. So many times during the first read, and then all over again in the dozen or so times I've reread this book. It may sit on my shelf for nine months to a year, but I always pick it up again, because it just makes me so happy. There's no huge climax, no huge resolution, no life-changing moment in the book, but that's why I love it so much. It's real - and life is like that.
Her follow up, Children of God Go Bowling (which I'll write about at a later date), was the hardest book for which I ever had to wait to be published. And it delivered. I can't say it's better than Welcome to My Planet. But, it's equal. And this one makes you cry, too. Which for me, more often then not, makes a book grand.