The Bright Hour is a stunning work, a heart-rending meditation on life — not just how to appreciate it while you’re living it, but how to embrace its end, too. It is this year’s When Breath Becomes Air ... Riggs barely pauses to pity herself or her family. She trudges forward with the kind of strength and humor that make reading her account a bittersweet pleasure. Her wit is sharp and her observations lyrical ... Written in the present tense, it feels present, as if Riggs is in the room talking to you — that witty friend who makes you laugh and ponder big thoughts even as she quietly suffers. It makes the last pages especially moving.
...beautiful and haunting ... a thoughtful and heartbreaking exploration of what makes life meaningful in a person's remaining days ... a thoughtful and heartbreaking exploration of what makes life meaningful in a person's remaining days.
The Bright Hour is a deadline memoir — a vivid, immediate dispatch from the front lines of mortality and a record of a life by someone who wasn’t done living yet. But there is nothing maudlin in it ... The Bright Hour has rough patches that might have been smoothed if Riggs had had more time, but it gains confidence as it goes. It tends to work best when she is most down to earth, willfully dispensing with some of the standard trappings as she tells the story of her cancer experience.
Riggs’ great gift in the dire situation, her saving grace – and ours -- is that she is a poet, a writer, a woman able to put into words what it is to be told you have a potentially fatal disease when you love your life, your husband, your eight and five-year-old boys. Early on, she is drawn to the sixteenth-century Frenchman Michel de Montaigne, father of the essay and a strong influence on Riggs’ literary forebear, whose thoughts frequently turned to man’s transience … The Bright Hour is far from a scholarly book, grave illness being one of life’s great levelers and the percipient Riggs being acutely aware that she is one of many come untimely toward her end … This is a book you read while holding your breath, hoping for the impossible, becoming tearful and frightened – and unwilling to turn the final pages: The Bright Hour is that beautiful, that achingly alive.
...deeply moving … Dark stuff, but The Bright Hour is indeed suffused with brightness — a series of luminous reminders that “the beautiful, vibrant, living world goes on” even in the midst of pain and loss. Riggs died in February, shortly after completing the book; her widower, John Duberstein, provides a touching afterword … Riggs weaves literary criticism into her memoir.
Riggs reminds us that we are all in this world until we leave it; the gallows humor surrounding her mother's funeral will make readers howl guiltily but appreciatively. Whether confronting disease or not, everyone should read this beautifully crafted book as it imbues life and loved ones with a particularly transcendent glow.
...[a] moving and insightful memoir ... Despite the profound sadness of her situation, Riggs writes with humor; the memoir is rife with witty one-liners and musings on the joys and challenges of mothering and observations on the importance of loving relationships.
The author writes with a seamless flow and an honest, heartfelt tone; the narrative often glides into passages of gorgeous, rhythmic prose leaving no doubt about Riggs’ immense talent for poetic language. She also retains a dry, witty sense of humor throughout despite the sadness of enduring chemotherapy and its side effects ... A luminous, heartbreaking symphony of wit, wisdom, pain, parenting, and perseverance against insurmountable odds.