Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs

Title: The Bright Hour 
Author: Nina Riggs 
Source: Publisher 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Published: June 6th, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: 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. 

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Growing up, there was a multitude of words I was not allowed to say. My sweet southern spiritual mom was very strict about language.  I have amazing parents, but firm believers in freedom of speech and children expressing themselves however they wished – they were not. They’ve mellowed out a lot since those days, though I am apparently not too old to be chastened for the occasional expletive I let slip. One of the words my mom didn’t like was the word hate. “But I hate that dress” or “I hate Cassie… she’s a jerk.” For the record, Cassie was a jerk, but I still wasn’t supposed to hate her. I could dislike her. I could be unhappy about the way she treated me. But hate was an ugly word. To this day, if I use the word hate, I get a funny little feeling that I’m saying something I’m not supposed to say. But I think my mom will let this one slide: I hate cancer. I hate cancer with all of my being. I hate that we’ve lost family members to this terrible disease. I hate that it attached itself to my father, then my mother, and then came back for seconds with each of them. I hate that I live in fear that it will come back for more. I hate that my friends have lost their parents and their loved ones to cancer. I hate that it preys on children. I hate that it infects our pets. That it is not selective, and it is not fair. I hate that we still don’t have a cure. And I hate that it robbed us of author Nina Riggs and her beautiful writing that I only just got to read. But I love that I was fortunate to read it. I love that Nina wrote such a raw, realistic memoir. I love her and her beautiful family. And though my heart broke, I adore how she injected humor and genuineness into The Bright Hour. This is a book about dying, but it is also a book full of life. And I feel very honored to have read it. 

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

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

© at A Belle's Tales

  

12 comments:

  1. This sounds like an incredibly moving book. I'm with you I HATE cancer and all the hurt it brings. Woderful review Wifey *cuddles you*

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    1. Thank you, love. So moving -- a heartbreaking but incredible memoir. *cuddles*

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  2. Wow. This one sounds like one inspiring read. Great review Michele :)

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    1. Thank you, Vanessa! Very much so -- Nina was an incredible lady.

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  3. Ahh girl you made me cry with your review. I hate cancer too. It takes too many of our loved ones far to early. I will put this on my reading list for down the road when I am still not so emotional. Hugs.

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    1. I thought about you several times while I was reading this one, Heidi. There are moments I think you will definitely relate to, as well as certain things I think you will appreciate. I do think it's too soon right now; but maybe further down the road, you will read Nina's story. *love and hugs*

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  4. Nice quote, and nice review. Some books are a gift to read, definitely.

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    1. Thank you, Greg -- this book was exactly that. <3

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  5. I just wanted you to know that your review of this book has made me cry....and, of course, I will never read it. I can't. Because I HATE cancer, too. Heck, who doesn't?

    Although my family has fortunately not been touched by this horrible disease, I simply can't deal with this topic.... I would be crying every single page. And the fact that this is a MEMOIR is especially hard.

    But I do love your honesty in dealing with the topic of this book, and how you led up to the review by mentioning how your parents especially disliked your use of the word "hate". And then, your mentioning that it's a very appropriate word to use when referring to this....this THING that has robbed the world of so many WONDERFUL people, whether famous or not.... Priceless, Michele!

    So thank you for your very moving review. You have been very brave to read this book. Me, I'm a coward. I can't even get near it.

    LUV YA!!!! SUPER SMOOSHY TACKLE HUGS!!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

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    1. I know, my friend. It's a very tough subject matter, and it breaks my heart. Fortunately Nina wrote with such humor and candidness that she made it easy to read, but I definitely shed many tears. It won't be a book that everyone will be able to read, but I believe it will be unforgettable to those who do. Thank you so much for those kind words -- this was a really tough review to write, and I struggled with how to do this amazing book justice so I just started writing from the heart. I don't believe you're a coward at all, my friend -- you are a beautiful person with a sensitive soul and gentle heart. I appreciate your reading the review and leaving such a sweet comment. Love you too! *SUPER SMOOSHY HUGS* <3 <3 <3

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  6. This sounds like a heartbreaking read, and I agree, I hate cancer.

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    1. It is but also very inspiring. Me, too, Verushka. Thanks for stopping by.

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