Published June 6th by Simon & Schuster

An exquisite memoir about how to live—and love—every day with “death in the room,” from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air.

“We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other.”

Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal.

How does one live each day, “unattached to outcome”? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty?

Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?

Brilliantly written, disarmingly funny, and deeply moving, The Bright Hour is about how to love all the days, even the bad ones, and it’s about the way literature, especially Emerson, and Nina’s other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer. It’s a book about looking death squarely in the face and saying “this is what will be.”

Especially poignant in these uncertain times, The Bright Hour urges us to live well and not lose sight of what makes us human: love, art, music, words. 


I love everything about this very long blurb; I think it tells you all you need to know in terms of what this book is about. And Nina’s writing absolutely delivered on sharing with us her very poignant, thought provoking, often laugh out loud funny answers to every single question listed in that blurb. Now that you’ve read the blurb and know what this phenomenal book is about, let me attempt to share with you why I loved it so much. I only hope I can do it justice.

When I pick up a memoir, which arguably isn’t often, it’s usually always something true crime. Last year I decided to branch out and read When Breath Becomes Air which was a truly remarkable story and challenged me to think about mortality for maybe the first time. So, The Bright Hour is being likened to When Breath Becomes Air which is possibly good and bad. Good because so many people LOVED WBBA (it made my top 10 reads of 2016 list) but bad because no one should for one second think…’Oh I’ve read one book about death and dying, I don’t want or need to read this one….’ This book is completely unique and I have to say struck me on a level that WBBA didn’t. I’m not sure if it’s because Nina was a mom of 2 boys who was dealing with life, marriage, dogs, female friendships, etc and I’m also at a similar point in my life, although my boys are older, but I just immediately connected with her voice and writing. From page one I felt like we were sitting having a glass of wine and she was telling me her story. Here’s just a sample of her down to earth yet gorgeous writing from page one…

   “Dying isn’t the end of the world’, my mother liked to joke after she was diagnosed as terminal…I never really understood what she meant, until the day I suddenly did….There are so many things that are worse than death: old grudges, a lack of self-awareness, severe constipation, no sense of humor, the grimace on your husband’s face as he empties your surgical drain into the measuring cup…”

Nina not only had her own diagnosis to come to terms with but she also had her mother’s. I really, really liked her mom! I laughed about some of their book club discussions and then cried when they questioned whether there’s book clubs in heaven…man, I really hope so! For me, this was the ultimate page turner that I never expected to be a page turner because once I started reading I didn’t stop until the last page was turned. And then I spent the next hour crying. And going back in my kindle and trying to find passages I may have forgot to highlight. So yes, tissues will be needed but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I was sad in the end, yes, but I was also changed and inspired. When I pick up a book I do so in the HOPE I will in some way be moved and Nina Riggs achieved this with The Bright Hour, a heartfelt book about family, love, the power of words, living and dying.  This is absolutely going on my 5 star reads bookshelf at home and I can guarantee you it will be one of my top 5 reads of 2017.

Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster for my copy via Netgalley. I’m so happy to provide an honest review 




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12 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE BRIGHT HOUR By Nina Riggs

  1. You have done it justice. Your review is great and shows just how much the book affected you. I knew from the blurb that it would be an emotional read but when you described your feelings at the end, I could picture everything and it made me want to carry even before reading the book. It does sound like an emotional and powerful read. Will definitely look out for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I am going to have to read this one. When Breath Becomes Air was an absolute favorite of mine. I sobbed so uncontrollably that my husband thought something terrible happened. It had of course in the book, and I was grieving along with them. I just know from your beautiful review I will feel the same depth of emotion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Stephanie, I also loved WBBA but I have to say this book was even better. There was humor and wisdom and insight that just completely made the author relatable as a woman and mom. And made the ending all the more heartbreaking. Yes, I think you’ll love this one as much or more. Let me know your thoughts when you get to read it:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s already added to my TBR list, and I’m going to have to make time for it! 🙂 I can definitely see how it would be more relatable from the mom and woman perspective. Any memoir that is about cancer or the death of a parent with young children or even older children just slays me. I know I will be reading this one and bawling, and I’m sure I will love it. I’ll be sure to let you know what I think 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Annie! I know it sounds depressing but it’s got so many really funny parts and just awesome wisdom and insight. When I finished I just felt so appreciative of my life, I didn’t feel depressed although I was sad if that makes sense

      Liked by 1 person

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