A Heart That Works (Paperback)
  • A Heart That Works (Paperback)

A Heart That Works (Paperback)

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Paperback 192 Pages
Published: 31/08/2023
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Waterstones Says

Actor and writer Rob Delaney’s profoundly moving memoir about losing his son Henry to a brain tumour is an honest, graceful account of a harrowing experience and a solace to those who have faced devastation.

In this memoir of loss, acclaimed writer and comedian Rob Delaney grapples with the fragile miracle of life, the mysteries of death, and the question of purpose for those left behind.

When you're a parent and your child gets hurt or sick, you not only try to help them get better but you also labour under the general belief that you can help them get better. That's not always the case though. Sometimes the nurses and the doctors can't fix what's wrong. Sometimes children die.

Rob Delaney's beautiful, bright, gloriously alive son Henry died. He was one when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. An experience beyond comprehension, but an experience Rob must share. Why does he feel compelled to talk about it, to write about it, to make people feel something like what he feels when he knows it will hurt them? Because, despite Henry's death, Rob still loves people. For that reason, he wants them to understand.

A Heart That Works is an intimate, unflinching and fiercely funny exploration of loss - from the harrowing illness to the vivid, bodily impact of grief and the blind, furious rage that follows, through to the forceful, unstoppable love that remains.

This is the story of what happens when you lose a child, and everything you discover about life in the process.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 9781399710886
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 140 g
Dimensions: 196 x 126 x 18 mm


This book is so rich with grief and love and pain and humor and an incandescent, purifying, flame-throwing wrath. Though Delaney can't bring Henry back, he can - and does - show enough of him to the world to make a reader see him a little bit, know him a little bit, and fully love him. What an unbelievable gift - Lauren Groff

What a read. Its beauty and pain and humour and anger will help many people. This is a beautiful monument - Richard Osman

The weaving of the joy and pain, the love and loss, the absurdity of grief, is done so beautifully. It feels like a message in a bottle, a despatch, a communication from the depths of suffering and despair that ultimately brings a message of great hope - Cathy Rentzenbrink

It is a gift, it's an immense piece of work. It's brilliant. It's needed, like a deep, physical draught of something strong and cold - Russell T. Davies

I could have read about Henry for a thousand pages. It is impossible not to share in Delaney's tenderness, his attention, his anger, his night-black humor, and impossible not to see his son through his eyes: loved, learning, smiling ecstatically. I will turn to this book again and again, to feel deeply and to learn about this world from Henry - Patricia Lockwood

Warm and vivid and heartbreaking, humane and somehow even funny, Rob Delaney has written a very special tribute to a very special boy, and a beautiful treatise on what really matters in life - Monica Heisey

I got to know Henry through Rob's words. His sweet soft head. His amazing smile . . . I cried a lot but also felt hopeful because life goes on and Rob talks you through how that happens. I am in awe. It's a love letter to fatherhood and the most beautiful tribute to a child who is so deeply adored. This book will sit with me for a very long time - Dawn O'Porter

Delaney is a phenomenal storyteller . . . A Heart That Works is in the same league as The Year of Magical Thinking in its stark, clarified articulation of grief - Buzzfeed

I love this book, and it is a tough ride, filled with grace and beauty and unimaginable pain. I cried a number of times, laughed a lot, grieved with the Delaneys, and underlined so many moments of courage, exposure, humanity and the deepest meaning. All I can say is Wow - Anne Lamott, author of BIRD BY BIRD

This book is unlike anything I've ever read. Brutally honest, powerful, like a beautiful howl. A love letter to Delaney's precious boy. To his wife. His family. To parenthood. It is a book that will help so many grieving parents. I loved everything about it - Laura Zigman, author of SEPARATION ANXIETY

Emotionally raw, yet masterfully told. At the heart of this intimate story of coming to terms with the death is a stubborn embrace of life itself - Mat Johnson, author of PYM

I don't think I've ever read anything before that captures the enormity and power of parental love, how radical it is, how transformative and total - Eleanor Catton

It taught me a lot about grieving, life, death and parenting. Every parent should read it. Every human should read it - Philippa Perry

This is such an important, intimate and powerful book. It's unflinching. It stares grief right in the eyes and forces you to do the same - Sue Perkins

Beautiful, funny, tender - Lauren Laverne, Radio 6 Music Breakfast Show

Simply beautiful - Nihal Arthanayake, Radio 5 Live

Tender, perceptive and strangely, darkly funny amid unconscionable tragedy... This is a rallying call against the polite timidity that we often show grief - The i

A viscerally extraordinary book - Elizabeth Day, How To Fail

Vital and very, very funny... As much as I wish he hadn't had to write it, I am glad he did. Because such deaths do happen. And they largely happen in private... That he is able to do so with such guiltless, funny and disarming honesty is testament to the profound effect of Henry's short but meaningful life - Rory Kinnear, Guardian

Rob Delaney shows us his big, beautiful, messy, angry, kind, wise heart and gives us a full life to live instead of the half-life we have been living. I can't say enough about the seismic shift this book created in me - Sarah Polley

Like Catastrophe, which laughs at and celebrates the messiness of married life, A Heart That Works is tragicomic, a jumble of joy and fear and laughter and pain... bleakly fun - Observer Magazine

A devastatingly candid account of a parent's grief that will have readers laughing and crying in equal measure... Few would attempt to bring humor and levity to such an unbearably sad story, but Delaney manages to do so with grace, sincerity, and warmth - Kirkus Starred Review

The book is remarkable for how deeply it delves into the granular aspects of death... This memoir is a big-hearted depiction of personal pain, urging readers to appreciate what they have - Sunday Independent

The most moving, thought-provoking and intimate account of navigating grief that you're likely to read... Delaney's book is shot through with profound anger, flashes of humour and most of all the enormous, all-encompassing love he feels for Henry and his family - Daily Express

How do you go on when the very worst happens? That's the question Catastrophe star and comedian Delaney grapples with in this raw account of losing his two-and-a-half-year-old son Henry to brain cancer in 2018. There are moments of dark humour amid the heartbreak, but expect to start crying on page 17 - Grazia

Wrenching . . . A Heart That Works is heartbreaking (and how can it not be?), but it's also an affecting portrait of a father's love for his son - Time

A heart-breaking, consoling, funny and angry lament . . . life-changing - Irish Times

[Delaney's] meditations on loss, family and hope are so profound you'll come out the other side of this book a different person - i news, Best Books of 2022

A raw, painful and, at times, darkly funny memoir . . . As heartbreaking as the book may be, Delaney's pitch black humor buoys even the toughest moments . . . Delaney's book is ultimately about all-encompassing, heart-exploding love. - New York TImes

A love story unlike any other - Mia Farrow

The pain comes less from horrifying details than from the way Delaney lures us into contact with the very aspects of our lives that are easiest to ignore: our fragilities, our constant proximity to calamity, our powerlessness to control what life brings, or when - New Yorker

A wrenching, unflinching and somehow often funny memoir - USA Today

It is a relief to read an account of grief that is not a series of hard-won life lessons wrapped in a gratitude journal . . . The result is a book that sings with life . . . That a book about a dead child is at times laugh-out-loud funny is a testament to Delaney's skill; in the hands of a lesser writer, the humor could seem dismissive or grasping instead of the natural release valve of a person who is highly attuned to the absurdity of the awful - Washington Post

A book that'll break a heart, and put it back together again...A life changing read - Stylist

Achingly beautiful - People

Extraordinary . . . it brims with chaotic life - Sunday Times

It is laugh out loud funny, and cry out loud sad, and warm as a huge log fire in winter and I could have carried on reading it for 1000 pages. - Mark Haddon

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“absolutely stunning”

On the recommendation of another bookseller I've just read this (devoured it over a day, on lunch breaks and bus journeys) and absolutely loved it. In writing the book, Rob deals with what is clearly such a... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 22

“A beautiful story about a boy called Henry”

I put off reading this book for a while. I knew it was going to be sad and make me face the reality that sometimes our children get sick and we can't make them better. But I picked it up because I wanted to read... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 21

“A beautiful story about a boy called Henry”

I put off reading this book for a while. I knew it was going to be sad and make face the reality that sometimes our children get sick and we can't make them better. But I picked it up because I wanted to read... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 19

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