The books I enjoy the most typically sit unfinished with one chapter to go. They deliciously hang out in my reading stack or on my audio book list the same way the last bite of my favorite chocolate cookie sits wrapped up on the counter.
I savor the thought of it. I visit it occasionally. I conjure up visions of slowly consuming that last morsel.
“It. Goes. So. Fast.: The Year of No Do-Overs” is one of those books. It sat unfinished in my audio book app for five days. I just didn’t want it to end.
This book is the memoir of NPR anchor Mary Louise Kelly’s “year of no do-overs” as her 18-year-old son entered his senior year in high school. Her job as the anchor of NPR’s afternoon news show, “All Things Considered,” meant she went on air every weekday at 4 p.m. – the exact time of her sons’ weekly Monday soccer games. (Her younger son was a high school sophomore at the time and also a soccer player.)
Every year, Kelly had told herself, this would be the year that she would make the time to be more present, go to more games, carve out more time with her sons. Every year, when she fell short of this goal, she knew she had many more years ahead for a do-over. Then her first-born became a senior. Kelly realized there would be no more do-overs.
She wrote this book in real time as she lived her son’s senior year through the eyes and the heart of a highly successful, deeply committed news professional who also wanted to make sure her family came first. It’s written in essay-style chapters that connect a reader with compelling first-person storytelling, gut busting humor, and non-judgmental sage advice.
It’s obvious from the first chapter that Kelly is more than only a radio news host. She writes with the clarity of a newspaper reporter (which she was), the depth of a novelist (which she is) and the heart of a mom (which she will always be).
This audio book version caused untold “driveway moments” when I had to finish a chapter before getting out of the car. I daily looked forward to riding around town feeling like Mary Louise (we’re on a first name basis by now, of course) was buckled in my passenger seat chatting about her personal experiences as a mom, international public radio correspondent, friend, daughter and wife. Her voice is as familiar as a family member’s (I’m a huge NPR fan girl), so it made for easy listening.
But when I realized I was at the last chapter, I chugged in a big breath. I stopped the audio book. I wasn’t ready to kick her out of my car.
Through this book, I had traveled with Mary Louise as she interviewed world leaders in Ukraine, Afghanistan and countless international capitals and war zones. I screamed with her as she loudly cheered on her sons at their soccer games she was able to attend. I cried with her when she emotionally detailed the last walk with her ailing father. I’d giggled with her as she detailed the deep connection she maintains with her group of college girlfriends.
So I let it sit for a few days. Then I chose to finish that last chapter while on a solitary walk. I knew that last chapter would contain wisdom, humor and some sage advice. And it did. I belly laughed and I cried.
Then I went to my new local bookstore to buy the hard copy of the book (spoiler alert: All Good Books had already sold out of the book, so I had to order one). That’s what I do when I love an audio book so much that I need to be able to return to the lovely turns of words and mark up the pages with my favorite passages. Then I share the book with friends. In my world, that’s the highest compliment I can pay a book!
In the summer of 2022, Reba created her summer reading challenge to get off the screen and back to books by reading a book a week. Her accountability was to write a series of Blink Book Reviews of 300ish words so someone could read them in a blink. This is the latest in her occasional ongoing (and sometimes more like two blinks-long) series. Join her Blink Book Review Facebook group to get all the reviews and books suggestions from others.