When the sun comes up and most Long Islander’s are catching up on the morning headline’s, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien is on the air delivering them. This mother of four, who was raised in Smithtown, is the anchor of Starting Point, CNN’s weekday morning show that airs from 7 a.m.-9 a.m.
In her new book The Next Big Story: My Journey Through The Land Of Possibilities, O’Brien chronicles her life and the events that helped to shape it — starting with her childhood as the daughter of a White, Australian father and a Black, Cuban mother. She talks about her struggle with race, not in terms of a personal, internal battle, but more along the lines of her own awareness and what it meant to be of mixed race in suburban Long Island, during the 1970’s.
She shares a story of when she was 11 and her older sister, age 14, went to get their photograph taken as an anniversary gift for their parents. While in the studio on Main Street, the photographer said, “Forgive me if I’m offending you, but are you Black?” Questioning why it would be offensive to call her Black because she was Black (and Latina and half white), she recalled it being, “the first time feeling like I might be disliked for who I am.”
Her questioning of people, events and that day in the photographer’s studio is something she attributes as being the start of “living a life of perpetual motion” — her early road to reporting, ultimately wanting to “walk toward something rather than away from it.”
After giving birth to twin boys in 2004 and suddenly having FOUR KIDS UNDER AGE FOUR, another poignant moment in the book is when O’Brien opens up about being a mom.
She talks about being “utterly in love and uniquely overwhelmed, crying almost every day from exhaustion, fear, and panic.”
She confesses, “I get a full-time baby nurse until I realize she is raising my boys and I ditch her. I walk out one day with four kids stuffed in a double stroller – two are hanging off the back – and I realize I’m truly acting like a nut case. I buy my way out of all sorts of problems, but money can’t buy a good night’s sleep.”
It’s gritty, pure and honest. O’Brien’s candor is something that every mother can relate to and bridges the gap between celebrity and the average, everyday mom.
O’Brien also discloses how the death of her co-anchor at Weekend TODAY, David Bloom, changed her life and career. His death made her realize that it was no longer enough to sit in the comfort of a studio. She now wanted and needed to go out and be on the front lines and try to make a difference in the world.
The pages of The Next Big Story continue to dive deep into O’Brien’s journey from reporter to seasoned journalist. She shares her firsthand accounts of tragedy and devastation during 9/11, the Haitian earthquake and Hurricane Katrina. What readers of The Next Big Story need to know is that the book is ultimately a personal narrative of passion, determination, not making excuses, and doing EXACTLY what you love to do.
To follow Soledad O’Brien, find her on Facebook.
By Kim Como