Reviews for It. goes. so. fast. : the year of no do-overs

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At the beginning of her exceptional memoir, journalist Mary Louise Kelly, co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, shares a story of preparing to board a Black Hawk helicopter in Baghdad with the Pentagon press corps when she gets an urgent call from a school nurse back in Washington. Her younger son is sick. Really sick. How soon can she get there? This is familiar territory for Kelly, but after a lifetime of balancing family with a big career, she resolves that this year will be different. Her older son’s a senior in high school, and she’s keenly aware of his fleeting childhood. She will adjust her schedule, take a leave, and say “no” more often. As Kelly chronicles this tumultuous year, readers will relate to her tug-of-war between doing what she loves and being with the people she loves. No advice here, just illuminating reflections and engaging stories. Some of the best chapters take readers along on Kelly’s news reporting adventures—interviewing then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2020, going deep into Ukraine at the war’s beginning—making the book as at home in the journalism section as it is in literature and parenting and giving an already excellent title added appeal.

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The longtime anchor of All Things Considered documents her attempts to be a more present parent during her son’s senior year of high school. In Kelly’s nonfiction debut—she has written two novels—the author ranges widely, writing about the challenges of conducting a radio interview with hearing aids; being called by her son’s school while working in a combat zone in Iraq; and grief over the loss of her father to cancer. Throughout, Kelly reflects on the trade-offs she’s made as a working mother, all of which have sparked complex feelings in herself and others. In a particularly poignant chapter, she recounts how she ran into a professional colleague while staying home to care for her youngest son, a decision the family made because the author’s husband had a higher salary. While Kelly found this encounter with her sharply dressed and ambitious colleague humiliating, the woman later related that it made her think about all the time she was missing with her own children. This first encounter sets the tone of the text, which is filled with revelatory moments that clearly articulate the push and pull of aging and motherhood. However, at times, the author glosses over major events without offering adequate analysis or background. For example, she alludes to the breakup of her marriage but ends the chapter abruptly. While it is certainly up to the author to exclude parts of her personal life, readers may find it unsatisfying to encounter such a life-changing moment so briefly and superficially, especially in a book focused on family dynamics. After the early chapters, the book meanders, ricocheting from Kelly’s home life to her public dispute with Mike Pompeo and her work at NPR. Many of these sections are tenuously linked to the main narrative of her children and family, and the text features too many forced metaphors and insubstantial connections to parenting. An accomplished journalist’s middling memoir about balancing work and motherhood. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly
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In this touching memoir, Kelly (The Bullet), cohost of NPR’s All Things Considered, meditates on her complicated emotions during her oldest son’s senior year of high school. Lamenting the soccer games she missed because of her job, Kelly decided to record her reflections on the months leading up to the graduation of her son James in the hope that doing so would allow her to “show up and be present.” In addition to the expected accounts of going on college trips and preparing James for prom, Kelly describes juggling her reporting and parenting, recounting how she learned James had Covid while she was covering a speech from President Biden and how she turned down her editor’s request that she travel to Ukraine to report on the war so she could instead spend more time with her son before he left for college. This showcases Kelly’s knack for connecting with audiences through snappy prose and affecting candor, and she beautifully captures the chaos and pathos of parenting, as when she writes of her son, “Our bond has changed and stretched and been tested, sometimes sorely tested, over eighteen years. But perhaps the pain was the cracking of the walls as the room grew.” Parents will cherish this. (Apr.)