The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, Nina Riggs, 2017

I have a terrible memory for books, films and sometimes even life events. On one hand, that’s not bad at all, because I get to read books and watch films over and over again and still be surprised by the story; on the other, there are a lot of books and films I would like to watch in this life, so repeating them won’t get me very far on my reading and watching list.

So, as one of the resolutions for 2020, I’ve decided to take a page from Jo’s book, and make an effort to write a review about the books I read. This will make me deliberately think about what I read and what I thought and hopefully remember it better. So, if I were to read a book twice, it would be because the book is worth it and not because I couldn’t remember it.


In The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, Nina Riggs writes about her experience as a mother of two young boys, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer in her late thirties. This seems a bit dark for someone who has just become a mother to read. The idea of dying before your children are grown up is definitely terrifying, however, Nina Riggs writes about it naturally and with humour, so instead of crying, I found myself smiling at her internet buying sprees or how she convinced her kids that “supervision” was a superpower. This was one of my favourite excerpts:

“When our kids were littler, John and I convinced them that the word supervision meant a superhero-like all-seeing power possessed by some people – particularly grown-ups: Adult Supervision, Parental Supervision. And that we had it. For example, a sign on a hot tub that read Parental Supervision Required indicated that your parent must possess Supervision in order for you to go in that hot tub, so that they would know how you were behaving, whether they were watching you or not.”

The book is full of humorous and witty passages like this. She writes about the joys and challenges of being a mother, wife and friend. But she also writes with clarity about coming to terms with her disease, which is sometimes impossible to accept and other times makes her value simple daily moments and relationships.

So, in the end, while reading about a mother dying from cancer may seem depressing, it is completely the opposite. It is mostly a reminder of the beauty of normal human life.

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