A Heart That Works

Amy Pagliarella reviews Rob Delaney's latest book.

Rob Delaney
Spiegel & Grau, 196 pages | Published November 29, 2022

What is it about stories like A Heart That Works that speak to us? Rob Delaney’s devastating story of Henry – his beautiful son who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, suffered and died by age three – should be too sad for words. Instead it is deeply moving – and at times uplifting – to bear witness to a tragedy no family should endure.

Perhaps this is because Henry was more than his illness; Delaney shares goofy recollections of kissing Henry’s piggies … smelling his soft hair … celebrating small successes as he learned to kneel following surgery. Delaney recalls the tenderness with which Henry’s big brothers cared for him and his wife’s grace toward him, as he put aside his all-consuming work as a co-creator of the Amazon Prime show “Catastrophe.” He even celebrates the British National Health Service and all the caregivers, doctors and nurses it provided for his family, American ex-pats living in London for Delaney’s career.

Christians have always wondered how a God that is so infinitely loving can create a world in which little ones suffer and die. Delaney is not a believer; however he also ponders this unanswerable question.  If you are in the midst of your own tragedy, this may not be the book for you — yet. But for those of us who struggle with this question, and who wonder how joy and pain can co-exist, this intimate story invites us to join in the work of the heart.

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