Saturday, January 6, 2024

After a month-long stay in the UK, to my great joy, I came back to a pile of book-shaped parcels waiting to be unopened. My reading on English soil had been somewhat non-existent; apart from my annual reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, I had barely picked up a book. Plans to read fierce tomes on train trips to Somerset and Yorkshire were quickly thwarted thanks to train strikes, and – with my internal clock soon set for after nights and sleep – I no longer had the wee hours of the morning with my nose to spend in a book.

And so I started the year determined to read at least a hundred books and quickly started my first – a working heart by Rob Delaney.

A working heart book review

My first introduction to Rob Delaney was on Elizabeth day’s brilliant Podcast, How to Fail. During the episode, he spoke with great frankness about his son Henry, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of one, and later, devastatingly, expired.

A memoir chronicling Henry’s life – from his birth in London – where Delaney, his wife, and their two young sons moved from Los Angeles after his illness – after weeks of vomiting, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor – to his family’s desperate attempts to cure his illness.

It’s hard to imagine That a working heart – a memoir that tells about the tragic illness and subsequent passed away of her young son – can be funny in one way or another, but Delaney manages to write with such frankness and honesty that sometimes it’s easy to forget how the story will end.

Without a doubt, the most poignant parts of a Heart That Works are Delaney’s descriptions of taking care of her son; the way he describes him with such vividness and passionate love, and the advice he gives to readers who might be in similar shoes. A special scene that shines in its vividness is when Delaney announces to Rachel – one of Henry’s caregivers – that they will no longer continue Henry’s treatment when the cancer returns. Instead of the whispered condolences that so many of us might expect, Rachel cries and she screams, and Delaney is delighted to see the pain he feels reflected in someone who also loves Henry.

Delaney writes beautifully about how caring and loving for his son has become almost an addiction; and the way he writes about not-found the calluses that develop on his fingers when he uses his son’s suction machine was as touching as it was cruel.

An unbearably brutal and beautiful book that I wish I never had to write, but that I read all the better. A Heart That Works is a breathtaking, bright and vibrant homage to Henry Delaney. Essential reading for all of us.

A heart that works summary

In this memory of loss, the famous writer and comedian Rob Delaney tackles the fragile miracle of life, the secrets of passed away and the question of the meaning of those who remain.

If you are a parent and your child gets injured or gets sick, you not only try to help him get better, but you also work under the common belief that you can help him get better. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes nurses and doctors can’t fix what’s going on. Sometimes children Pass away.

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