Braving the Fire

Braving the Fire

Braving the Fire is the first book to provide a road map for the journey of writing honestly about grief and loss. Created specifically by and for the writer who has experienced illness, loss, or the death of a loved one, Braving the Fire takes the writers’ perspective in exploring the challenges and rewards for the writer who has chosen, with courage and candor, to be the memory keeper. It will be useful to the memoirist just starting out, as well as those already in the throes of coming to terms with complicated emotions and the challenges of shaping a compelling, coherent true story.

Learn more about Braving the Fire from St. Martin’s Griffin.

Loosely organized around the familiar Kübler-Ross model of Five Stages of Grief, Braving the Fire uses these stages to help the reader and writer through the emotional and writing tasks before them, incorporating interviews and excerpts from other treasured writers who’ve done the same. Insightful contributions from Nick Flynn, Darin Strauss, Kathryn Rhett, Natasha Trethewey, and Neil White, among others, are skillfully bended with Handler’s own approaches to facing grief a second time to be able to write about it. Each section also includes advice and wisdom from leading doctors and therapists about the physical experience of grieving.

Handler is a compassionate guide who has braved the fire herself, and delivers practical and inspirational direction throughout.

Braving the Fire is the best book about memoir writing I’ve read. Jessica Handler provides a brilliant, empathic, and sturdy guide to help us begin, develop, and complete a work of art dealing with those difficult subjects we might fear exploring but which will become the wellspring of our most profound work.”

— Louise DeSalvo, author of Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives


“Read this book! Braving the Fire is brilliant, profound, thorough, and a delight. Through writing, it takes you to the core of your loss, honoring the uniqueness of your voice and ultimately revealing the beauty and power of your story, whatever it may be.”

— Susan Zimmerman, author of Keeping Katherine and Writing to Heal the Soul


“Jessica Handler beautifully illustrates how the power of our stories—well captured and conveyed—can heal our deepest sorrows. Braving the Fire is much more than a book by an eloquent writer for other writers. It is a must read for those who wish to live a life of transparency and to write with honesty about the journey.”

— River Jordan, author of Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit


“Braving the Fire is a necessary companion for any writer who wishes to write about grief. Handler gently and honestly states the difficulty and rewards of recording our most haunting stories. There is a silver bullet of hope in this guide: the remembrances of our lost loves may very well be the key to living vivid lives, healing in technicolor.”

— Christa Parravani, author of Her