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An Innocent, a Broad

Review

An Innocent, a Broad



A self-described "master fretter," the pregnant Ann Leary worried
over her first-born but could never have predicted what was in
their future: the delivery, three months early, of two-pound,
six-ounce Jack in a distant land. A quick jaunt to England, where
Ann's husband, comedian Denis Leary, has a gig, is suddenly
interrupted when Ann's membranes rupture. Ann, who once believed
she was the type of person who would take charge in a disaster ---
leading people from a plane crash, for example --- found that she
was "in fact, the shrieking, running-into-the-burning-wreckage
type."

After much hysteria and a cab ride, Ann and Denis find themselves
in London's University College Hospital. She is put to bed in the
hope that the delivery will be delayed as long as possible. Ann,
who moved frequently as a child, sometimes feels like an awkward
newcomer. In a roomful of British mums, she truly is out of her
element. When asked if she is ready for tea, for example, she
refuses while admitting she's hungry. She's concerned about
caffeine and hasn't yet caught on to the fact that "tea" is
actually a meal.

Ann makes friends eventually with the hospital staff and the other
mothers, who help sustain her and Denis during the long ordeal
after Jack is born. When Denis must return to New York to work, Ann
stays nearby spending most of her time in the Special Care Baby
Unit. She describes her admiration of the nursing staff: "If, for
example, you haltingly inform a nurse that you have just passed
what appeared to be a large part of your brain into the toilet, via
the birth canal, the nurse will not gag but instead will admonish
you for flushing it away before showing it to her." Yet, she admits
feeling jealous and redundant in the face of their efficiency with
her baby.

Ann, who went to England for a weekend and stayed for
five-and-a-half months, felt frequently unprepared. Luckily, for
her and her readers, one thing she didn't forget to bring was her
sense of humor. As she tells her story, flashbacks to previous
situations in her life point to the fact that, while she gives
tragedy its due, she can often find life's inherent entertainment
value.

From the first page, I felt that I had settled into the wry musing
of a self-deprecatingly hilarious friend. Despite my frequent bouts
of laughing, I also found myself moved, occasionally to tears. A
sympathetic physical pang squeezes my heart when Ann speaks of
staring into Jack's isolette and willing him to "Breathe, digest,
grow." Sometimes laughter and tears come simultaneously, as in the
epilogue, in which 13-year-old Jack, now tall and healthy, sees a
photo of himself in an incubator with his mom at his side and is
aghast --- at her haircut!

AN INNOCENT, A BROAD is witty, smart, terrifying, funny,
heart-rending and heartwarming --- an absolute delight, from start
to finish.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on January 22, 2011

An Innocent, a Broad
by Ann Leary

  • Publication Date: November 30, -0001
  • Genres: Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0060527234
  • ISBN-13: 9780060527235