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NPR's Mary Louise Kelly's memoir reflects on the last year her family was under one roof

NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly.
Mike Morgan
NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly discusses her new memoir.

Mary Louise Kelly’s latest book is “It. Goes. So. Fast. The Year of No Do-Overs.” She can be heard co-hosting "All Things Considered" every weekday on 90.5 WESA.

We can’t be in two places at once, no matter how useful that ability would be. Solving that problem was the catalyst for "All Things Considered" co-host Mary Louise Kelly’s new book: She couldn’t host the show live and make it to her sons’ soccer games, which were scheduled at the same time.

In her new book, Kelly brings readers along for nine months of her life through college campus visits, soccer games, and contentious interviews.

“These days I count the weeks,” Kelly writes at the outset of the book. “Before, it was months. Soon it will be days. I’m counting the time left before my oldest child leaves home. The time left that the four of us will live together, under this roof, intact as a family. The time left — let's just come out and say it — for me to make a different choice.”

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Kelly told WESA’s The Confluence she wrote this book because it was one that she wanted to read, but it didn’t exist.

“I, as every working parent I know, had been wrestling with work-life balance and trying to have it all …” she explains. “I found it was getting harder as my kids got older, instead of easier. That was not the way I thought this was supposed to go. It got harder in terms of the deals I was cutting with myself.

Kelly explained that writing the book offered a way to be intentional about this time in her life. She saw this time before her oldest son went to college as an inflection point, and even though she couldn’t predict what would happen during this period — such as her father dying — it felt important to keep a record.

Also during the course of writing this book, Kelly had her contentious interview with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Diplomacy efforts between the U.S. and Iran were tenuous following the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qassem Solemani. She addresses this chapter to her sons and touches on the values that guided Kelly in the aftermath of the interview.

“When I really thought about it, I had taken some life lessons from that interview about standing your ground, about not giving up in the context of an interview like that, like not letting somebody get away with dodging questions that are legit questions to which our listeners, I felt, deserved answers,” she said.

Spoiler alert: She does make it to the soccer games. And as she describes these games, readers are brought into the bleachers with her and a crowd of fellow parents. These pages are pure fun, giving a play-by-play of the games.

“I host a show called ‘All Things Considered,’ which means we consider all the things … And I can go with the flow for almost all of it,” says Kelly. “But I will say, it's the sports interviews that terrify me. The NFL stuff is hard because it's like I'm speaking a foreign language, and I have — more than once — called home to my teenage sons from the studio and been like, ‘Quick, we're covering the NBA, What do you want to know?’”

Although Kelly can’t predict what her next “act” will be, she’s fairly certain it won’t be sports reporting.