Bomb Shelter [Book Review] and I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet [Book Review] #Essay #Memoir #MentalHealth

May 13, 2022

Two Memoirs/Essays: Bomb Shelter and I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet #MentalHealthWeek

Memoir Reviews (collage of two covers)

Two reviews today!

My favorite memoirs/essays are ones where I can glean something useful for my own life….where I can make a connection….where I can acquire insight and understanding of particular challenges and struggles. I think these two titles are perfect for sharing during May’s focus on Mental Health Awareness. While one (I Haven’t Learned That Yet) mentions faith, both are poignant, transparent, and honest reflections on life’s challenges.

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.

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

Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott (cover) Image: yellow text and a large turtle against a pinkish red background

Genre: Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Essay, Self-Help, Self-Reflection, Anxiety, Humor

My Summary:

Mary Laura Philpott is a self-proclaimed “optimistic worrier” or “anxious optimist.” This tendency intensified when she became a parent and believed that if she cared enough, she could keep her loved ones safe. One day, her teenage son experienced a seizure and she began to worry about what else could happen? How do you keep going and continue loving and caring when you don’t know what will happen next?

My Thoughts:

I imagine most of us have experienced that feeling of helplessness and anxiety and worry over the ones for whom we are responsible. I know I have. In fact, if you are a fan of the NBC drama This is Us, a scene in one episode touched me profoundly. Randall is at the cabin working and has visions/imaginary conversations with Jack about his anger toward Rebecca for keeping the truth about his bio father from him…..Jack encourages Randall to see the situation from Rebecca’s perspective. Through the window, Randall glimpses a frantic Rebecca closing and locking all the windows and doors in an effort to keep her family safe. So moving. A perfect picture of how I felt as a parent of a growing family… many worries and dangers to keep at bay.

“It’s true. There will always be threats lurking under the water where we play, danger hiding in the attic and rolling down the street on heavy wheels, unexpected explosions in our brains and our hearts and the sky. There will always be bombs, and we will never be able to save everyone we care about. To know that and to try anyway is to be fully alive. The closest thing to shelter we can offer anyone is LOVE, as deep and wide and as in as many forms as we can give it.

Philpott shares honestly how her anxiety was triggered as a parent. Isn’t it helpful knowing others have felt the same? Experienced the same? I think the book is relatable for parents or anyone who experiences episodes of anxiety or worry.

Philpott’s writing style and reflections are conversational, engaging, mostly light-hearted, and sprinkled with humor.

Recommended for anyone who experiences anxiety and/or worries.

Content Considerations: epilepsy, anxiety

My Rating: 4 Stars.

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I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet: Discovering New Ways of Living When the Old Ways Stop Working by Shauna Niequist

I Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet by Shauna Niequist (cover) Image: colorful text against a white background

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Essays, Self-Help, Self-Reflection, Grief, Faith, New Beginnings

My Summary:

Shauna Niequist’s carefully and thoughtfully cultivated life as she knows it falls apart after her fortieth birthday. What do you do when your entire life has revolved around your father’s church and your life-long, close-knit community of family and friends all collapse when your father is accused of inappropriate behaviors at his mega-church and resigns (not detailed). What happens when the happy and secure life in the mid-west you’ve dreamed of and carefully built falls apart around you? Well….you might move to Manhattan and rethink everything.

My Thoughts:

I suspect most of us can relate to a life that isn’t at all what we expected or dreamed about. We may face unexpected financial problems, toxic relationships, family disappointments, broken friendships, health concerns, etc. What then? What happens when all you want to do is quit? Does everything fall apart or can we learn to live in a new way, make adjustments, gain new perspectives, forgive, show compassion, navigate heartbreak and grief, and accept unknowns? Can we rebuild, refocus, and retool?

“…Life is…interconnected and multifaceted. We carry around our whole selves…our past and our parents, our loves and our limitations our dreams and our grocery lists, and our wounds.”

I need to note:

  • Not all of us have the option of relocating and starting a new life, have access to vacation homes, or can take a year off work to pull ourselves together. Nevertheless, she has some good things to share!
  • Some readers are frustrated that Niequest never shares the nature of the issue with her father and the church that motivated her memoir. Her intentional vagueness is out of respect for her father’s privacy….and really the issue is her dad’s to write about….she’s sharing how her life changed and how she adjusted to those changes as a result of what happened. I had followed the news story when it came out, so her vagueness didn’t bother me. He’s easy to google if you’re interested (Bill Hybels).

Recommended for anyone who is facing a life change.

My Rating:  4 Stars


Meet the Authors, Mary Laura Philpott and Shauna Niequist

Author Mary Laura PhilpottMary Laura Philpott is the author of I Miss You When I Blink, the nationally bestselling memoir-in-essays, as well as Bomb Shelter, forthcoming in 2022. Her writing has been featured frequently by The New York Times and also appears in such outlets as The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Paris Review Daily, O The Oprah Magazine, and Real Simple. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

For more information, visit

Author Shauna NiequistShauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, Bread & Wine, Savor, and Present Over Perfect.

She is married to Aaron, and they live in Manhattan with their sons, Henry & Mac.

Shauna is a bookworm, a beach bum, and a passionate gatherer of people, especially around the table.


Do you love memoirs? Are these titles on your TBR or have you read one or both?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



    • I drew attention to it as a content consideration in case a parent might not want to read that content if it’s something they are facing. Do you think I shouldn’t mention it?

  1. I wish I could get into NF more, I feel like there’s so much I could learn!

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