Length: 288 pages
First Published: 2022
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Anxious by nature, Mary Laura Philpott has always prepared for the worst yet still managed to look at the bright side of life. Then, when her teenage son has a middle-of-the-night seizure and is diagnosed with epilepsy, Philpott’s sunny disposition turned dark: If this happened, what else could happen?
Philpott’s memoir in essays is a balancing act of anxiety and optimism, showing both the dark and the light sides of life. Philpott is an excellent writer, relatable in both her humor and her worries. Having read I Miss You When I Blink made this memoir even more poignant to me. Yet, although I enjoyed Bomb Shelter, I didn’t gain any great insights or feel like the book had any grand message to impart.
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).
About Mary Laura Philpott
Mary Laura Philpott is an essayist and author of I Miss You When I Blink and Bomb Shelter. She founded the digital magazine Musing and is a co-host of A Word on Words, a literary interview show on Nashville Public Television. Visit the author’s website →