A Heart That Works

One important thing to know about me is that I’m addicted to NPR. That addiction has worsened in the past year into what I can only describe as a coping mechanism, but that’s also interrupted my old routine of plowing through audiobooks on the regular, especially non-fiction ones. It doesn’t help that my commute is shorter now, so that quick NPR segments within the app are like candy to my little addicted mind. I obsessively listen to three of the main NPR podcast outputs though: Up First, Consider This, and NPR Politics. I dabble in Short Wave when I have time, but unsubscribed from it daily due to being overwhelmed with so many podcast episodes like six months ago.

Anyway, cut to a Sunday morning, I’m working in the library mostly alone, and one of the myriad of NPR things I consume does a weekend episode special replaying an interview between Rachel Martin and Rob Delaney about his new book, which details the brain tumor his infant son developed and his eventual death. It took me a few minutes to realize, but I had a slight awareness of Rob Delaney–I had to read the pilot episode of Catastrophe in college for a class I tried to get into three times. Spoiler alert: I never got into the class. Thanks, Aaron Tracy.

Anyway, I kept listening to this podcast even though I didn’t really want to be depressed on a Sunday morning and the entire thing seemed…depressing. Of course, Delaney is a comedian, he’s funny, he brings wit and light moments, but it’s still a tale of a child, a 2 year old, DYING of cancer. It’s going to be hard.

Cut to a few weeks later, I finished 3 2022 celebrity memoirs in rapid succession and am ready to keep the audibook vibe going, but the Matthew Perry memoir isn’t available. And the I see A Heart That Works, available for download.

It’s a short book–under 4 hours–and I took it in spurts. Sometimes I listened for an hour straight, sometimes ten minutes. It’s not a surprise when Henry dies, and you aren’t nervously waiting for it, you are simply along for Delaney’s ride as he and Henry grow together, and he and his wife balance their other sons with Henry while he’s in hospital, as he details the differences dealing with this in London versus the US would have painted, and more. It’s a memoir, but it’s not about Delaney. It’s about a very discrete moment in time, it’s about grief, it’s about sorrow and joy, and I really found myself entrenched in it. Enjoying isn’t the right word, of course, but it felt like what I needed, something to put perspective into my own life.

This isn’t a book to read if you’re going through your own crisis, but it also might be just the book you read. It’s a tender book, and I 100% recommend the audiobook, which Delaney reads himself.

Also, of course, listen to the NPR interview.

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