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.
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.