Review: Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives by Mary Laura Philpott

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

A lifelong worrier, Philpott always kept an eye out for danger, a habit that only intensified when she became a parent. But she looked on the bright side, too, believing that as long as she cared enough, she could keep her loved ones safe.

Then, in the dark of one quiet, pre-dawn morning, she woke abruptly to a terrible sound—and found her teenage son unconscious on the floor. In the aftermath of a crisis that darkened her signature sunny spirit, she wondered: If this happened, what else could happen? And how do any of us keep going when we can’t know for sure what’s coming next?

Leave it to the writer whose critically acclaimed debut had us “laughing and crying on the same page” (NPR) to illuminate what it means to move through life with a soul made of equal parts anxiety and optimism (and while she’s at it, to ponder the mysteries of backyard turtles and the challenges of spatchcocking a turkey).

Philpott returns in her distinctive voice to explore our protective instincts, the ways we continue to grow up long after we’re grown, and the limits—both tragic and hilarious—of the human body and mind.



My Thoughts:

It takes some bravery to expose yourself like Philpott does in her books, and the rawness and realness of all that she is going through is appreciated by this reader.

The author’s feelings are palpable. Philpott makes every word count, and whether or not you’ve experienced the same or similar situations, her writing makes you feel as much as she does. Reading her essays with their mix of fears and wisdom made me feel connected to the author. 

There are plenty of relatable takeaways from Bomb Shelter: Take the good with the bad. Try to show more love than worry when dealing with your kids. You won’t stop worrying, but they need your love more than your anxiety.

“The problem with worry is that the scope is infinite.”

Philpott made me wonder if my grown children will ever realize how much they took control of my life. Do they know the joy they brought? Do they know the sense of powerlessness they brought? I wanted to be Boudica and protect them from everything. I wanted them to not worry because I was there to take care of them. However, as the author points out, we really don’t have much control over our kids’ destiny and that is worrisome.

I would not compare the author to the legendary Erma Bombeck, but Bomb Shelter is a highly relatable collection of essays that perfectly balances serious issues with the author’s sense of humor. 

About the Author: Mary Laura Philpott writes essays that examine the overlap of the absurd and the profound in everyday life. Her writing has been featured frequently by the New York Times and appears in such outlets as the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the Paris Review Daily, O the Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and more. A former bookseller, she was also the Emmy-winning co-host of an interview program on Nashville Public Television for several years. Mary Laura lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her family

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