The Bright Hour

It’s the kind of book any writer wishes they could have written but is eternally grateful they couldn’t.  Nina Riggs and I had a lot in common- we share a literary agent (the phenomenal Brettne Bloom), published at the same imprint (Simon & Schuster),  both the mother of boys and an affinity for self-diagnosing via WebMD.  She seemed like the kind of woman I would have loved to have shared a cocktail (or four) with on a sunny June night, talking about motherhood, writing, dogs, wine…anything and everything. But for some cruel reason, Nina was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the age of 37 and that friendship will never happen.  Nina passed away last month, just shy of seeing her memoir, The Bright Hour, being published to rave reviews tomorrow June 6th.  And so other authors, like me, are hoping to take on a small part of promoting this book for her, in honor of her, to make sure the brightest of lights shines on her talent.

Nina had the painful and poignant experience of writing about dying in a way that I never could have- with humor,  exquisite clarity, bravery and levelheadedness. Her book is a masterpiece.  I was sitting with our agent at a Manhattan bar when she got the final bid on Nina’s manuscript and got to call her and tell her the amazing news that no doubt helped alleviate some worry for her financially.  She kept telling me how much I was going to love this book, how much I would love Nina, how important this book is.  And she was right. About all of it. It’s hard to make sense of it, but somehow I found myself looking forward to getting into bed and reading this book about a dying mother every night. How is that possible? Because Nina made this book about LIFE really, not death. She wrote about her excruciatingly unfair diagnosis with such levity (and even laugh out loud humor) that I found it uplifting instead of soul-crushingly sad.  I think that was her goal- a lofty one for sure, as how does one write about dying young in a “light” way??? But her extraordinary talent allowed her to. I saw so much of myself in her, and also qualities of the woman I hope I can become someday.

The lessons, the deep stuff- it’s all there. The reminders to value every moment of your life, even the shitty ones- that you take away for sure.  But upon closing the back cover, you also take a way a feeling of boldness and light instead of despair.  And looking at pictures of Nina, or reading her amazing Modern Love column that garnered so much attention, you can see it in her eyes and words- she was a woman who radiated love and positivity, even during her darkest moments.

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

I really wish I could have met Nina. She was clearly a very special person. But I am so glad she left us all with this book, this gift, really. Especially for her two sons, who miss her with every ounce of their beings and will forever.  She was a magnificent mother. And writer. And human.  And you all need to read this book.

So today, I get to give away five copies (open to US residents only) of The Bright Hour thanks to Simon & Schuster. Leave a comment below and I will pick the winners randomly tomorrow morning and e-mail them directly.  For all of you who do not win, you can buy the book here or pick it up at your local bookstore.  Lets make The Bright Hour a rousing, NY Times Bestselling success and spread the love and light that Nina shared as far as we can.





  1. This sounds like a wonderful book from a gifted woman. As a less-talented writer myself, I would love to read it.

  2. Beautiful review of the book… sounds like a read that everyone should have on their list. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you for sharing Erin.. I have just pre-ordered the book as it is not yet available in UK. I have however read the preview and I can tell it is really something. Thank you for sharing Nina’s book and story.

  4. Thank you for sharing – we all need inspiration from others to do hard things!! Can’t wait to read her story.

  5. Wow Erin, as an 8-year survivor and member of the breast cancer club (thankfully not metastatic), this book sounds like it will hit home. My gorgeous sister-in-law, Elin Hilderbrand, is also a member of this club. Have to see if she has heard about this book… xoxo Lisa

  6. Such a beautiful gift to leave behind. I look forward to reading this and sharing it. Thank you for posting this.

  7. This sounds like a wonderful story. I work in oncology in a hospital and see this quite often. I’m always so impressed with those that have such a positive outlook on life even though they are battling terminal cancer. Looking forward to reading it.

  8. I remember my Grandma reading Tuesdays with Morrie while my Grandpa was dying of ALS – she encouraged my Grandfather and I both to read the book but as the matter was too close to home I ended up not reading it until my high school required it and by that time it had been three years since my Grandpa’s death. I bawled my bloody eyes out. This book sounds thought provoking to say the least , but hopefully not as difficult as the above mentioned story. I am very interested to see her lightness and humor brought into a miserable life experience. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Thank you for recommending this book…just ordered it. While I have never directly been impacted by cancer, I am committed to doing whatever I can to raise money and awareness to help find a cure. This summer is my 10th year riding in the PMC. My bike team has two pedal partners, young children who are currently fighting cancer. As a mother of three, it’s heartwrenching, grounding and inspiring. We need to find a cure.

  10. Adding this to my reading list! I survived thyroid cancers as a teen, and I remember how alone and misunderstood I felt throughout the fight. Voices like Nina’s are so, so important. I loved her Modern Love piece and can’t wait to read more.
    Thanks for the recommendation!

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