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Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write he Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.


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Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write he Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.

30 review for Heart Berries: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here, is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small. She writes of motherhood, loss, absence, want, suffering, love, mental illness, betrayal, and survival. She does this without blinking but to say she is fearless would be to miss the point. These essays are too intimate, too absorbing, too beautifully written, but never ever too much. What Mailhot has accomplished Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here, is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small. She writes of motherhood, loss, absence, want, suffering, love, mental illness, betrayal, and survival. She does this without blinking but to say she is fearless would be to miss the point. These essays are too intimate, too absorbing, too beautifully written, but never ever too much. What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined, testament.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    You should have thought before you made a crazy Indian woman your lover. It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of Mailhot's writing in Heart Berries. It’s very poetic, dreamy and beautiful, though often fragmented and edging towards stream-of-consciousness in parts. It requires some patience and close attention - for, though short, this is not the easiest of reads - but it really does pay off. Heart Berries is a Native American woman's memoir written in short, hard-hitting essays. I'm not You should have thought before you made a crazy Indian woman your lover. It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of Mailhot's writing in Heart Berries. It’s very poetic, dreamy and beautiful, though often fragmented and edging towards stream-of-consciousness in parts. It requires some patience and close attention - for, though short, this is not the easiest of reads - but it really does pay off. Heart Berries is a Native American woman's memoir written in short, hard-hitting essays. I'm not surprised it received praise from Roxane Gay because the style reminded me quite a bit of Gay's Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (not quite as polished, but I would watch this space). With stunning, introspective writing, Mailhot makes the most intimate of confessions. It's one seriously brave memoir, stripping back layer after layer and exposing all the author's pain and struggles underneath - as a woman, as a Native woman, as a survivor of abuse, as someone who has dealt with manic depression, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder and self-harm. Heavy with metaphor and personal meditations, Mailhot's story is unveiled. We learn about her affair with a professor, a teen marriage that fell apart and lost her custody of her first son, and her time in a psychiatric hospital. Throughout, she makes observations on human nature - on men, on Native Americans, on white people - that are sometimes darkly comic and often sad. I think self-esteem is a white invention to further separate one person from another. It asks people to assess their values and implies people have worth. It seems like identity capitalism. I didn't love every part of the book. Sometimes the stream-of-consciousness wandered too much for my tastes, and I was relieved when we returned to a more coherent narrative. I didn't always follow the metaphors being used, even though I read them several times and tried to envision what the author wanted to communicate. But that's okay. There were so many powerful moments and quotable sentences that they vastly outnumbered the parts I had issues with. There's just so much pain in this book. So much honesty and humanity and abandon. Mailhot has created something special here; I hope it gets the attention it deserves. I wanted to cry, and hurt people, and I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t know if what I felt was authenticity, or a disease that would overtake me. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I don’t think I have the words. I have been trying and failing to write a proper review for days. This book has rendered me speechless, so this will be a super short review. Terese Mailhot packs an unbelievable punch into a book this short. I could not stop reading it: her language is hypnotic, her turn of phrase impressive, her emotional rawness painful. This book does not follow conventions, Terese Mailhot tells her story the way she wants to and needs to. She is unapologetically herself. She b I don’t think I have the words. I have been trying and failing to write a proper review for days. This book has rendered me speechless, so this will be a super short review. Terese Mailhot packs an unbelievable punch into a book this short. I could not stop reading it: her language is hypnotic, her turn of phrase impressive, her emotional rawness painful. This book does not follow conventions, Terese Mailhot tells her story the way she wants to and needs to. She is unapologetically herself. She bares her soul and hides it at the same time. I cannot wait to see what she does next. I have been reading and loving many memoirs the last few years, but this is definitely one of my favourites. I cannot recommend this enough. First sentences: “My story was maltreated. The words were too strong and ugly to speak. I tried to tell someone my story, but he thought it was a hustle.” You can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    I did a total 180! I loved this memoir, then I didn’t. Mailhot is an indigenous woman with a traumatic past, and her heart-wrenching, raw story starts out as cool poetry. I felt like she was sharing her soul. Her jazz was getting me all jazzed. The voice in my head was screaming: She’s brilliant! Such intense language! Will you just look at the way she can so beauteously describe her off-kilter reality?! Wow, such a unique viewpoint! I’ve never read anything like it! I needed to read each sentenc I did a total 180! I loved this memoir, then I didn’t. Mailhot is an indigenous woman with a traumatic past, and her heart-wrenching, raw story starts out as cool poetry. I felt like she was sharing her soul. Her jazz was getting me all jazzed. The voice in my head was screaming: She’s brilliant! Such intense language! Will you just look at the way she can so beauteously describe her off-kilter reality?! Wow, such a unique viewpoint! I’ve never read anything like it! I needed to read each sentence twice, but that was fine because it made me fly. I scribbled notes frantically, feeling like she was trying to turn me into a poet. Upside down, inside out, somersaults in the soul. Language standing on its head! Legs like scissors in the sky. Breathe in, breathe out. Tear apart, cling close. Yes, she had me all ga-ga. This was 5 stars all the way, baby. So how in the hell did I do a 180? I think I know where she lost me. After the initial poetry, she went more into straight narrative. I liked that too, liked the feel of a concrete story after the dreamy beginning. It wasn’t linear, but that didn’t bother me. She was giving the facts of her life, infused with emotion. I admired her willingness to share her difficult story. Her struggles with mental illness and abuse were well-told, and I could feel her pain. For a while. Because then it turned into stream-of-conscious ramblings, which seemed disjointed as she jumbled up time periods and events. I didn’t even mind that, for a while. But this is where she lost me—suddenly, her language seemed stilted and stoic, devoid of emotion. She also spent time explaining her culture. As soon as I felt like I was in class, I started losing interest. Reading her story became tedious. It’s bizarre to me that I thought she did show her emotions, and then I thought she didn’t. I don’t get it. It’s weird that mid-stream, I can change how I look at a book. Once the magic is gone, it’s GONE. Just to see if I could recreate the magic, I went back and reread small paragraphs, and as stand-alones, they were beauts. Little disconnected pieces of magic. But if I read the entire book again, I’m pretty sure the big magic would not return. It was like I was hypnotized at the beginning and I was in, 100 percent. But once the spell was broken, I couldn’t go back to the good place. The good place didn’t look so good any more. Now I think of the beginning part as sort of a self-conscious creative-writing-class exercise. Mailhot knows how to write, we know that. I just think she concentrated on creating perfect and beauteous prose-poetry instead of writing about her feelings. Her emotions got buried in her cool sentences. The book indeed lost its magic as a memoir, but I can swoon, if I let myself, over her many wowsy sentences. And then there were my expectations. Lidia Yuknavitch endorsed this book. She’s the author of one of my favorite memoirs, The Chronology of Water. Now there’s where stream-of-consciousness worked. Poetry galore, yet emotions spilling out everywhere. So that’s what I was expecting in this book. Plus I wanted to be in the in-crowd of gushers, of course. The truth about ladybugs: On a lighter note (though it is a little traumatic for me, I must admit), I lost my innocence about ladybugs. A total bummer!!! All my life, I’ve happily thought that ladybugs were the sweetest little things. It was okay to let the beautiful orange bugs with black dots saunter across my palm, climb cutely up my fingers. We treated those little beings with the utmost respect. Parents and friends taught me from an early age that ladybugs were not like other mean, annoying, and dangerous bugs. Ladybugs were chill. They were harmless. They were charming. Well, guess what? Ladybugs BITE! Mailhot was raised in a house that was infested with ladybugs and these guys repeatedly BIT her! She is still traumatized by them. Of course, reading this sent me straight to Google, where I read that, yes, indeed, ladybugs bite. Oh god, it’s like discovering that Santa Claus doesn’t exist! I will never think of ladybugs as cute little fellas again!!! Ignorance was indeed bliss. Final thoughts: The way Mailhot interprets and describes her world is unique, and it completely seduced me. But then she lost me. It turned into a disjointed dreamy thing. Even so, I admire her for living through hell and having the strength to write about it. And I liked getting a peek into her culture. But it doesn’t seem like anyone would describe their life in the way she did—she talks symbols and myths and adds a little social commentary. I know many people are okay with including this stuff, but that’s not what I want to see in a memoir. Perhaps she was intellectualizing her story, creating distance, in order to handle her pain. She obviously has this gigantic mind and a tremendous ease with poetic language. Read other reviews, please. I’m the outlier on this one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elyse

    A Canadian Indigenous woman wrote about her madness- The writing is poetic-a memoir in essays - but what she writes is devastating- gut wrenching. The writing looks the way it does ( unique- uncut- disjointed ), in my opinion because we are looking deep inside the mind of mental illness. Unfiltered. It’s a rare talent to expose the layers as deeply as Mailhot has. Her perceptiveness and language are brilliantly matched. Horrific things have happened to this woman: abuse, rape, etc. and what we ar A Canadian Indigenous woman wrote about her madness- The writing is poetic-a memoir in essays - but what she writes is devastating- gut wrenching. The writing looks the way it does ( unique- uncut- disjointed ), in my opinion because we are looking deep inside the mind of mental illness. Unfiltered. It’s a rare talent to expose the layers as deeply as Mailhot has. Her perceptiveness and language are brilliantly matched. Horrific things have happened to this woman: abuse, rape, etc. and what we are experiencing is the ugly manifestation of ‘as is’. Mailhot also looks at Indigenous women in the past and connects them to Indigenous women today. It’s hard to describe this book - but I’m left feeling inspired by her bravery - her resilience..... and in ‘aw’ by Mailhot’s ability to write so beautifully.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    You think weakness is a problem. I want to be torn apart by everything. If you’re a fan of the writing in books like Carmen Marie Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties and Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women, you’ll probably adore the writing throughout. For me, the writing didn’t quite work until the end - but then it did. I found the first half of this somewhat all over the place but then the stylism becomes more centered in the second half and better yet, the odd structure is the point. Can I just s You think weakness is a problem. I want to be torn apart by everything. If you’re a fan of the writing in books like Carmen Marie Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties and Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women, you’ll probably adore the writing throughout. For me, the writing didn’t quite work until the end - but then it did. I found the first half of this somewhat all over the place but then the stylism becomes more centered in the second half and better yet, the odd structure is the point. Can I just say that the structure is really fantastic? This is a book that confuses you on purpose. The narrative begins very non-linear, and then goes to a more linear direction, and it really works in conveying the author’s state of mind. It’s a wonderful use of unreliable narration, in which the memoir’s author isn’t consistent on her own thoughts either about herself or about her mental illness. There were several moments in the first half that felt like too much romanticization of mental illness, but as the book continues, the book shows a subtle recognition of the biases of the author. It becomes a testament to how our heads can be embroiled in a concept of how romantic our struggles are, how common they are, when they’re not. There’s so much nuance to what’s being said here. Overall, I thought this was utterly magical - a tour de force of word choice with a super strong thematic core. I will be following this author and if this intrigues you, I think you should too!! Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 A slim book, but a powerful one. A dysfunctional upbringing on a reservation, and indeed Sherman Alexie provides a glowing recommendation. Easily understood as Alexies own upbringing had some similarities with the author. Mental illness, disrupted and failed relationship, she had much to overcome. Free flowing thoughts, often disjointed, yet her pain is often overwhelming. I wish I could have rated this higher, but it is no reflection on the contents of the book, but on the reader. This is a 3.5 A slim book, but a powerful one. A dysfunctional upbringing on a reservation, and indeed Sherman Alexie provides a glowing recommendation. Easily understood as Alexies own upbringing had some similarities with the author. Mental illness, disrupted and failed relationship, she had much to overcome. Free flowing thoughts, often disjointed, yet her pain is often overwhelming. I wish I could have rated this higher, but it is no reflection on the contents of the book, but on the reader. This is a difficult book to read, her thoughts jumping from one place to another, often made it hard for me to follow. The main reason though is that this made me very uncomfortable, her thoughts often hitting the reader with her pain, and like Roxanne Gay, emotionally difficult to process. As I said, those are my feelings, and different readers are able to handle different things. This just took me to a place I didn't want to go.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Terese Marie Mailhot’s poetic, shapeshifting memoir Heart Berries, a series of tiny impressionistic essays of self-exploration into the very roots of trauma and madness, is as impossible to describe as it is to shake off. Mailhot is a woman at odds with herself and the world, and her book is in a soul-searching dialogue moving towards self-acceptance by means of the creation of a new definition of self. Reading her book is a dangerous activity, as I’m sure writing it was. A First Nations woman, Terese Marie Mailhot’s poetic, shapeshifting memoir Heart Berries, a series of tiny impressionistic essays of self-exploration into the very roots of trauma and madness, is as impossible to describe as it is to shake off. Mailhot is a woman at odds with herself and the world, and her book is in a soul-searching dialogue moving towards self-acceptance by means of the creation of a new definition of self. Reading her book is a dangerous activity, as I’m sure writing it was. A First Nations woman, the product of equal parts early trauma and cultural fortitude, she wrestles with her need, her greed, her hunger, her longing, desperate for love and yet trying the very people she loves the most—unapologetically, cutting to the bone with it all. I wanted to protect her as she interrogated her life and her actions, examining issues of grief and prolonged trauma, the naked craving for love and acceptance, a life disrupted by mental illness and the ongoing question of identity, the rage to matter—to herself most of all. Here’s just a bit from the very beginning: “The ugly truth is that I lost my son Isadore in court. The Hague convention. The ugly of that truth is that I gave birth to my second son as I was losing the first.” The matter of factness of the voice belies a blistering grief. “I packed my baby and left the reservation. I came from the mountains to an infinite and flat brown to bury my grief, I left because I was hungry.... I’m a river widened by misery, and the potency of my language is more than human. It’s an Indian condition to be proud of survival but reluctant to call it resilience. Resilience seems ascribed to a human condition in white people.” She is both self-defining and enraged at her self-definition. ‘I feel like a squaw. The type white people imagine: a feral thing with greasy hair and nimble fingers wanting. My earliest memories, and you , and the baby, have turned earth in my body. I don’t know what I am anymore. You have made me feel sick of myself.” Her specificity eludes blame, not for an unwillingness to take responsibility but because of the sheer vividness of the description and the acceptance of pain as part of life, foundational. Although the language is very simple and straightforward, the mind behind them is anything but. The juxtaposition of exceptional intelligence and intense wounded need is as compelling to read as it was/is to live, and the resulting images and simple statements provides a resonant poetry, the impressionistic treatment of time and place reveals layers, circling back as memory does. It is a tiny book to hold such intensity—there were times I could only read a few pages at a time before needing to let what I’d read sink in. It reminded me most of Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women in its depiction of messy lives that can’t be packaged and judged. Mailhot questions everything, and gives frank admission to the jaggedness of her nature, the passion and the yearning, the ugliness and the beauty and the desperate need, her complex and at times contradictory feelings about herself as a contemporary Native American woman and writer--pride and veneration warring with culturally induced shame and a rage against performance and trying to find an authentic way to be. For all its intensity, it is a quiet book, intimate as a confessional. The paragraphs are short, the sentences short and modulated. There is no overstatement. It’s this contradiction that makes the book so memorable. It’s as if the writer and the broken woman are working their way towards one another in front of your eyes. I didn’t feel ‘done’ when I was finished—it dared me to come back and see whether my initial reactions shifted in a second reading, a third, maybe more. Heart Berries will hit the bookstores in February 2018.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    A book written by the indigenous, for the indigenous, Heart Berries is a raw, heart-breaking and sobering memoir of what it means to grow up as a poor, abused, robbed of her own culture native American woman who suffers from depression. This is like no other memoir of the Native American (or First Nations) Experience, for the simple reason that it won't cater to your white-folks needs of painting indigenous culture with frills and sparkles, New Age and spiritual. The 21st century Native Expe A book written by the indigenous, for the indigenous, Heart Berries is a raw, heart-breaking and sobering memoir of what it means to grow up as a poor, abused, robbed of her own culture native American woman who suffers from depression. This is like no other memoir of the Native American (or First Nations) Experience, for the simple reason that it won't cater to your white-folks needs of painting indigenous culture with frills and sparkles, New Age and spiritual. The 21st century Native Experience is much different - and it is told the way it is. This is a story for you, if you want to hear it. But if you're not indigenous yourself, it will be more like peeking through a keyhole than watching it enfold in front of your eyes. And that's the way it should be. Because, I repeat - it's a book by the indigenous, and for the indigenous. Your Relationship With This Book If you're white, or a man, this book might not be for you. But it doesn't mean you can't learn from it. Or glimpse at another person's reality. What's more, it shouldn't be for you. Like it or not, not all books are, or should be, written for the dominating majority. More than anything, this memoir enforces the fact that Native Americans (and First Nations people) need to write FOR THEMSELVES. Heart Berries And Mental Health Heart Berries is a monument to the hurt and the trauma that creates a mentally ill, suffering human being. Having really dysfunctional parents, and yet loving them - trying to remember them well, despite knowing society remembers them ill, and your own logic does as well, but not your emotions. Figuring out why you are where you are, and what brought you there. And that you were destined to come to that exact point - because society and order will not allow you to step a foot on a different path. If you want to find out how a depressed, even a manically depressed person feels, you'll find it here. Although, chances are, if you have never experienced anything of the like, you will not comprehend it. But you can try to believe it and grasp it. It might help learn how NOT to judge. The Writing Is Art The writing is very specific, raw, and yet beautiful. It took me about 20% of the book to get used to it, but once I did, it told me the stories in pictures, in scenes. It truly is the only way to write about manic depression. The most interesting thing is that this is precisely the way Terese intended it to be - if not for the afterword, I would have thought this is 'just her being her'. But no - it's intended, and it's true art. The very contrast between the book and the afterword is what gives you the shock and understanding. Heart Berries And The Native American Experience If you're looking for Native American wisdom or tales though, this is not what this book is about. The book is more about being an unloved, depressed woman who suffers from PTSD. But - if you know where to look for it, you will understand that none of this would have even happened, had Terese not been Salish and lived on 'the rez'. Her parents would have not been emotionally (and financially) damaged, and she might have had a different childhood. Perhaps it isn't for us outsiders to understand how this meshes into Native American experiences, but it IS for us to accept. This book isn't The Indian Experience. It's more like What You Come Away With After The Indian Experience. Or if you're Born Into The Indian Experience. (I use "Indian" here only because Sherman Alexie has used this in the preface to describe the phenomenon!) So if you're looking for tradition and heritage, you won't find it. History though - you will find history here. And lots of reality. Brutal reality that you should not cover your eyes from. The author mentions in the afterword too, that Native Americans are not relics - and they should stop trying to be who they're forced by stereotypes to be. Let them write their own. Talk about the way they are and not be romanticized. That is what #ownvoices is all about. I can't believe how much strength it must have taken to write this book for Terese. To open herself up so much. It's pretty unbelievable, and incredibly worthy of respect. But Beware The Triggers I must warn though - if you've had mental health problems in the past, you shouldn't read this. You might get triggered very, very easily. Depressive thoughts, experienced and suicide attempts are written in great detail, and if you are happy yet fragile, do not try to be a hero and read this. Anyone with a fragile mental state should think about what they're reading, and I know what I'm saying from experience, sadly. So just take my word on it. I thank Counterpoint Press for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion. Also: if I am using names/indigenous terms wrong, please forgive me - I am from Europe and I've never even been anywhere outside of it. So anything terms related is purely because it's out of my realm (and feel free to suggest corrections) Read Post on My Blog | My Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter

  10. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    An emotion-driven memoir about a Native American woman's struggles with abuse, mental illness, and survival. Terese Marie Mailhot makes many astute observations in Heart Berries, including how white people use self-esteem as "identity capitalism" and how Indian women are often viewed as inhuman. She incorporates several important, challenging topics into her personalized narrative, ranging from trauma to cultural differences to the fluidity of memory. Every now and then, a line from the book wou An emotion-driven memoir about a Native American woman's struggles with abuse, mental illness, and survival. Terese Marie Mailhot makes many astute observations in Heart Berries, including how white people use self-esteem as "identity capitalism" and how Indian women are often viewed as inhuman. She incorporates several important, challenging topics into her personalized narrative, ranging from trauma to cultural differences to the fluidity of memory. Every now and then, a line from the book would really stun me with its poignancy, such as "I don't think I can forgive myself for my compassion," in reference to an abuser in her life. Despite these strengths, the book did not really make sense to me. The stream of consciousness style made me feel lost and disconnected from the events in her life. I found it difficult to keep track of characters, settings, movements in time, etc. It may be very intentional for the book not to make too much sense in the traditional way, and it may be that I have read too many memoirs written in a more conventional style to appreciate the craft in Heart Berries. Still, I am grateful that Mailhot's memoir has made waves in the literary world, as indigenous women's voices are so often ignored and erased. I feel thankful that she has shared her heart with us.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This memoir is unnerving from the very beginning. Rather than going back in time or providing some background, it starts with a letter to a boyfriend from a mental treatment center, full of emotions. The reader has to distill what has happened through the wall of pain. It is not easy to do. The author steps back from there and starts looking at memories of her childhood, which are also largely trauma narratives. I actually feel like I gained the most understanding about what the author was trying This memoir is unnerving from the very beginning. Rather than going back in time or providing some background, it starts with a letter to a boyfriend from a mental treatment center, full of emotions. The reader has to distill what has happened through the wall of pain. It is not easy to do. The author steps back from there and starts looking at memories of her childhood, which are also largely trauma narratives. I actually feel like I gained the most understanding about what the author was trying to do from the FAQ at the end, and it redeemed some of it for me. A frustration that men think women's trauma narratives are "all the same," and she pointed out, this is only because the same things happen to women, repeatedly. By refusing to write about another subject, she claims her history. She discusses the indigenous narrative and what has been expected from them previously, and how she wants to move from using them as a way to examine history to a lens through which the present can be examined. Very difficult subjects are explored - sexual abuse, abortion, cutting, suicide, etc. There is some beautiful writing here, and that is why I am giving it four stars instead of three. One example: "With you, things don't feel right sometimes. I believe you obstruct my healing. What I notice with you is that I look outside whenever I am close to a window, and I wonder how many women feel that way. I feel things I would rather feel alone."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chantelle Dixon

    Oh man. THIS BOOK. The writing is poetic and stream-of-conscious-like, which takes it to the next level but also is its downfall. You have to read s.l.o.w.l.y. to really appreciate the style, and she has these incredible one-liners that will just ZING you. And the guts of the story itself were beautiful and searing and terrible. Mailhot is a passionate, emotional narrator. Those are all good, incredible things. But it just didn't come together. It rambled and wound in and around itself, and meand Oh man. THIS BOOK. The writing is poetic and stream-of-conscious-like, which takes it to the next level but also is its downfall. You have to read s.l.o.w.l.y. to really appreciate the style, and she has these incredible one-liners that will just ZING you. And the guts of the story itself were beautiful and searing and terrible. Mailhot is a passionate, emotional narrator. Those are all good, incredible things. But it just didn't come together. It rambled and wound in and around itself, and meandered into the past and back to the present five times in the space of one page, and then did that over and over again. It felt unedited -- like she had sat down and spilled everything in her that was raw and hurting, and this is the result. So it is a beautiful book -- but not one that's close to being polished. The beginning in particular was difficult. I would get pulled in and then her rambling would pull me right out again. My lasting impression of this book is: "A woman shatters herself for a guy over and over and over again."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    This story is yours, culprit of my pain. Which one of us is asking for mercy? Heart Berries is a memoir by the Salish writer Terese Marie Mailhot, told over eleven “fractured” essays. Growing up on Canada's West Coast, this could have been a sadly familiar-sounding Reserve-based childhood tale, but Mailhot is a writer with an edge and an MFA. Her “narrative” is beyond the ordinary (with an artist/activist mother whose correspondence with an American prisoner formed the basis for a Paul Simon pr This story is yours, culprit of my pain. Which one of us is asking for mercy? Heart Berries is a memoir by the Salish writer Terese Marie Mailhot, told over eleven “fractured” essays. Growing up on Canada's West Coast, this could have been a sadly familiar-sounding Reserve-based childhood tale, but Mailhot is a writer with an edge and an MFA. Her “narrative” is beyond the ordinary (with an artist/activist mother whose correspondence with an American prisoner formed the basis for a Paul Simon project, and an artist father whose life with his second family was documented in the NFB film Hope), but it's her heart that Mailhot puts on display here; her pain and need and grief that evokes the universal while insisting that this is a personal project that exists independent of my experience of it. I could have marked beautiful or otherwise striking passages on every page – in the introduction, Sherman Alexie quips that Mailhot puts “the 'original' in aboriginal” – but from the material at the back of the book, I felt chastened by that greed: Mailhot's words are not beholden to my evaluation of them, but I will say they moved me. I wrote like I had something to prove to you. The stories were about the Indian condition alongside the mundane. Most of the work felt like a callback to traditional storytelling. Salish stories are a lot like its art: sparse and interested in space. The work must be striking. We learn early that after a messy breakup, and some threats of self-harm, Mailhot committed herself to a brief stay at a mental health facility. While there, she was provided with a pen and notebook, and through a series of unmailable letters to her former lover, Mailhot began to write her story. Like Salish art, her writing is “sparse and interested in space”; the essays in this book comprise only 130 small pages, but they contain a big life. Mailhot's story is her own, so I'll not outline it here. I woke up today, confused, inside of something feminine and ancestral in its misery. I woke up as the bones of my ancestors locked in government storage. My illness has carried me into white buildings, into the doctor's office and the therapist's – with nothing to say, other than I need my grandmother's eyes on me, smiling at my misguided heart. Imagine their faces when I say that? And yet, I can't help but include at least this one quote that contains something of Mailhot's politico-poetical voice and viewpoint. My edition of Heart Berries ends with a Q&A between Mailhot and Joan Naviyuk Kane; an Inupiaq American poet and fellow MFA. Kane's first question about the field of Native memoir, and Mailhot's experience with it, elicited this answer from the author: When I look at these books, the distinctions are clear; the voices are present and impactful; different, obviously. Not so much Elissa's book – and people could stand to write about it more because her work is fascinating and cerebral and new – but the genre-marketing of Native memoir into this thing where readers come away believing Native Americans are connected to the earth, and read into an artist's spirituality to make generalizations about our natures as Indigenous people. The romantic language they quoted, or poetic language – it seemed misused to form bad opinions about good work. And that is what I find so chastening: the last thing I want to do is to excerpt the lovely bits – the romantic or poetic passages born of Mailhot's pain – in an effort to support my (bad) opinions about her (good) work. Which is a pickle for a regular goodreads user; and especially since Mailhot is a writer with an MFA – this isn't diamond-in-the-rough naive-genius or traditional Native storytelling; this is a unique voice, but one formed through education and practise. In answer to another question, Mailhot writes, “Because I'm an Indian woman someone might call my work raw and disregard the craft of making something appear raw.” I recognise that danger, but as Mailhot and Kane toss around phrases like the “polemic voice”, writing pain into “phenomenological circumstance”, and the “politicization of grief”, I also recognise that these writers, with their prestigious MFAs, have been willingly trained in the tradition of the “colonisers”; shouldn't I feel less the interloper for consuming something so evidently crafted for the purpose? Nonetheless, I was moved by Mailhot's story; by her life and the art she makes of it. This book can't be generalised into some "Native memoir" category, but I reckon it has value for anyone interested in the unique lives of fellow humans.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    This slim memoir will blow your mind: Terese Marie Mailhot wrote a powerful, brutally honest book overflowing with poetic and inventive prose. Started as a therapeutic project, the reader is taken on a ride while the author is trying to figure out herself and her past, growing up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. The child of an alcoholic father and a mother with a penchant for prisoners and violent men, Mailhot at some point called child services on her mother, ended This slim memoir will blow your mind: Terese Marie Mailhot wrote a powerful, brutally honest book overflowing with poetic and inventive prose. Started as a therapeutic project, the reader is taken on a ride while the author is trying to figure out herself and her past, growing up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. The child of an alcoholic father and a mother with a penchant for prisoners and violent men, Mailhot at some point called child services on her mother, ended up in foster homes and later fled into a teenage marriage. She had two sons, the first one being taken away from her around the time she got a divorce and gave birth to the second one. After a breakdown, she was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorder, and biploar disorder. Large parts of the book show Mailhot meditating about the sources of her psychological troubles ("Trying to forget damaged me the most"), and the development of her relationship with her now-husband, writer Casey Gray. This love story is no fairytale though - Mailhot spares no one, and the way she portrays power dynamics in relationships is intriguing. The question of who holds power, who has got agency is present throughout the book, especially in regard to her abusive father ("I don't think I can forgive myself for my compassion"). The fact that Mailhot's now-husband is white and struggles to understand Mailhot's Native American identity adds yet another layer to the story. In the acknowledgments, Mailhot thanks her friend Tommy Orange with whom she studied at the Institute for American Indian Arts and whose fantastic book There There urgently needs to receive the National Book Award, if you ask me. I hope Mailhot will also get the recognition she surely deserves for her writing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eli

    It took me like a week to read this short book because it was so raw and painful. Also some of the essays were a bit disconnected so it was confusing sometimes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    My review from the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifesty... Sherman Alexie’s introduction to Terese Marie Mailhot’s debut memoir, “Heart Berries,” is incandescent with glowing praise, all of it deserved. “I was aware,” he writes, “within maybe three sentences that I was in the presence of a generational talent.” If that weren’t enough, in his blurb, he calls the book — centered on Mailhot’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia and later as a My review from the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifesty... Sherman Alexie’s introduction to Terese Marie Mailhot’s debut memoir, “Heart Berries,” is incandescent with glowing praise, all of it deserved. “I was aware,” he writes, “within maybe three sentences that I was in the presence of a generational talent.” If that weren’t enough, in his blurb, he calls the book — centered on Mailhot’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia and later as a writer — “an Iliad for the indigenous,” invoking Homer’s classic saga. Although this slim and devastatingly calibrated memoir which features brief, impressionistic and carefully modulated essays tops out at 160 pages, “Heart Berries” truly does provoke the reader to reconsider what it means to be epic. For an epic is traditionally defined as a long narrative poem in an elevated style, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of a heroic figure or the history of a nation. Here, in her fragmentary and interconnected narratives of family love and trauma, neglect and healing, mental illness and recovery, Mailhot offers her own quest for autonomy and self-determination in a milieu in which “Indian girls can be forgotten so well they forget themselves.” In blunt yet lyrical prose, she depicts struggles and stories — of herself, her mother, her father and her grandmother — that are at once singular and sovereign, yet also representative and collective, portraying the travails and quotidian heroism required to be “a woman wielding narrative now,” particularly in a world where “no one wants to know why Indian women leave or where they go.” The book opens with the tone-setting “Indian Condition.” Without apology, arrogance or sentimentality, Mailhot divulges key features of her autobiography, including her teenage marriage and decision to leave her reservation. “I left my home because welfare was making me choose between my baby’s formula or oatmeal for myself,” she writes, admitting, “The ugly truth is that I lost my son Isadore in court. … The ugly of that truth is that I gave birth to my second son as I was losing my first. My court date and my delivery date aligned. In the hospital, they told me that my first son would go with his father.” The collection’s epigraph comes from Maggie Nelson’s genre-bending book “Bluets,” and that choice is apt. Not unlike Nelson, Mailhot chops and loops her narrative threads, pausing to rest on aphoristic truths and rhetorical questions. In the middle of the epistolary “Indian Sick” — set inside the hospital where she has committed herself and directed at “Casey,” her white fiction professor, erstwhile lover and eventual father of her third son — she stops and states, “If transgressions were all bad, people wouldn’t do them. Do you consider me a transgression?” Sharp and scorching, her approach walks the knife’s edge between accessibility and experimentation, rendering in exacting detail what it’s like to be “ill and alone and intelligent,” trying to make a life as an artist and a single mother with post-traumatic stress disorder, an eating disorder and bipolar disorder. It’s exciting to think that a person might be able to write their way out of seemingly insurmountable personal, cultural and historical trauma. It’s even more exciting to actually watch someone appear, at least partly, to do so. Even as her book resists the oversimplified arc of pain and suffering followed by redemption and happiness, the bittersweet progress that Mailhot makes by the end feels hard-won, precarious but hopeful. “I become an editor. They pay me for my work,” she writes. “I became a fellow. Words I never knew to be — I am.” The afterword takes the form of an unsparingly frank Q&A with Mailhot, conducted by the Inupiaq poet Joan Naviyuk Kane. Replying to Kane’s question about her assertion that “indigenous identity is fixed in grief,” Mailhot says, “I don’t feel liberated from the governing presence of tragedy. The way in which people frame our work, and the way our work exists, or is canonized — we are not liberated from injustice; we’re anchored to it.” And that’s an excellent point: No amount of literature can remedy or reverse the colossal injustices perpetrated against indigenous people by white individuals and institutions. Nevertheless, this unconventional epic should be part of the canon.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tori (InToriLex)

    Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex The concise and powerful language used to describe the author's life in this book is amazing. The prose read more like poetry and was full of emotion and honest. Mailhot had a very troubling and abusive childhood that she slowly confronts in adulthood. The book describes her experience being hospitalized for her mental illness and how she navigates her relationships with the people in her life. Mailhot's parents were both caught up in their own trauma's Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex The concise and powerful language used to describe the author's life in this book is amazing. The prose read more like poetry and was full of emotion and honest. Mailhot had a very troubling and abusive childhood that she slowly confronts in adulthood. The book describes her experience being hospitalized for her mental illness and how she navigates her relationships with the people in her life. Mailhot's parents were both caught up in their own trauma's and addictions while raising her. She goes through a journey to learn how to grapple with the anger and love she feels for them both. "She transcended resilience and actualized what Indians weren't taught to know: We are unmovable." Mailhot connects her experiences in her Native American community with her approaches to understanding the world around her. She recognizes her erratic behavior as harmful but accepts it as a important part of her being. In this book the author is unapologetic ally herself and I could not stop reading. The descriptions of emotional pain and loneliness resonated with me and will resonate with most readers. The trauma and disturbing events in this book were intimate glimpses into the author's life that helped create a full picture. She identified as an outsider in a society that is hostile to her identity and existence and confronts that.  I'm excited to read more of what Mailhot writes because this was phenomenal.  "You were a bystander to my joy. You had a black eye, and we covered it with excuses."  Recommended for Readers Who -enjoy powerful stories about women -want to learn more about Native American experiences -appreciate lyrical, poetic and memorable prose

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laurie • The Baking Bookworm

    2.5 STARS - In this small book, Mailhot, a Canadian Indigenous woman, bravely shares her personal feelings and experiences which are often brutal, bleak and sometimes shocking. She tells her story with a unique writing style that was like nothing I've ever read. Some phrases were deliciously poetic - the kind that readers will want to write down. Brief, powerful and wonderful. But these tidbits are interspersed within a story that felt disjointed and almost incoherent much of the time. The writi 2.5 STARS - In this small book, Mailhot, a Canadian Indigenous woman, bravely shares her personal feelings and experiences which are often brutal, bleak and sometimes shocking. She tells her story with a unique writing style that was like nothing I've ever read. Some phrases were deliciously poetic - the kind that readers will want to write down. Brief, powerful and wonderful. But these tidbits are interspersed within a story that felt disjointed and almost incoherent much of the time. The writing, which was less of a memoir and more of a collection of essays, was like a rambling and unedited stream of consciousness that switched subjects, location and time lines leaving me feeling like I wasn't quite keeping up with her. It just wasn't a style that I enjoyed reading. I wanted to love this book so much more than I did. I tried, I really did, and I realize that I'm in the minority with my review. While I applaud Mailhot for bravely sharing her deeply personal experiences and thoughts as an Indigenous woman who struggles with mental illness, her identity and loss, her frantic, disjointed method of relaying her thoughts greatly diminished my understanding of her story and my overall enjoyment of this book. Disclaimer: This Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) was generously provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    This might sound odd, but I love literary fiction, psychological thrillers, and memoirs all for the same reason: they are thought-provoking. I love books that make you think. HEART BERRIES, a memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot, is one such book. It’s painfully honest and shows a very authentic perspective of the human condition. It’s no coincidence that @emmawatson chose it for her @oursharedshelf March selection, which I one hundred percent agree with. Mailhot is a Native woman, who checks herself This might sound odd, but I love literary fiction, psychological thrillers, and memoirs all for the same reason: they are thought-provoking. I love books that make you think. HEART BERRIES, a memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot, is one such book. It’s painfully honest and shows a very authentic perspective of the human condition. It’s no coincidence that @emmawatson chose it for her @oursharedshelf March selection, which I one hundred percent agree with. Mailhot is a Native woman, who checks herself into a psychiatric hospital as a last resort. She struggles with loss, insatiability, abandonment, past abuse, desperation, and mental illness. Her writing style is poetic, lyrical, and at times stream of consciousness. It’s written in short impressionistic essays so it took a few pages for me to get into a rhythm, but at some point you find you’re almost finished with the book and wonder where the time went. I was swept up in Mailhot’s introspective, descriptive language and when it ended I wanted to learn more. It is really difficult for me to put into words how I feel about this book so I’ll sum it up like this: it’s beautiful, unapologetic, emotive, insightful, picturesque, and unveiled.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    This was an artfully crafted memoir. It was honest, strong, mournful, beautiful. The book itself was small but the content heavy and big. Terese Marie Mailhot has a way with words. You can just FEEL them. In the afterword she is discussing honesty and disclosure. A statement she made I think really rings true to her book: "Crafting truth to be as bare as it feels (was important)". This was a book that was being read in a Goodreads book club and I am not sure if I would have come upon it otherwis This was an artfully crafted memoir. It was honest, strong, mournful, beautiful. The book itself was small but the content heavy and big. Terese Marie Mailhot has a way with words. You can just FEEL them. In the afterword she is discussing honesty and disclosure. A statement she made I think really rings true to her book: "Crafting truth to be as bare as it feels (was important)". This was a book that was being read in a Goodreads book club and I am not sure if I would have come upon it otherwise. So, I am very thankful that this was chosen and that I was able to find and read it. 5/5 stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Haley

    In the Afterword, Mailhot describes how this work started as fiction (pieces of it were even previously published as fiction) and eventually turned into non-fiction: "I realized I had been using the guise of fiction to show myself the truth, and the process of turning fiction into nonfiction was essentially stripping away everything that didn't actually happen to me, and filling those holes left behind with memory." Learning this contextualized a lot of the aspects I disliked about this memoir - In the Afterword, Mailhot describes how this work started as fiction (pieces of it were even previously published as fiction) and eventually turned into non-fiction: "I realized I had been using the guise of fiction to show myself the truth, and the process of turning fiction into nonfiction was essentially stripping away everything that didn't actually happen to me, and filling those holes left behind with memory." Learning this contextualized a lot of the aspects I disliked about this memoir - I literally wrote in my notes "memoir but so many narrative elements." It felt to me that Mailhot very much conceived of herself and her story within a narrative, and that degree of separation between her actual, true experience and this highly stylized MFA work grated against me. The pseudo-deepness of some of the lines in this memoir (e.g., "You ruined me with touch. It was a different exploitation;" "I wanted to know what I looked like to you. A sin committed and a prayer answered, you said"), a characteristic that bothers me on its face, furthered this separation between me and the author's true experience, her true psyche in these moments. This distance gendered little empathy, creating frustration and confusion surrounding the author's main decisions over the course of the (short) work. ("[Mailhot] can be fatally attracted to a faux lyricism," as Parul Sehgal put it in her review for the Times.) These elements will bother some readers more than others. I tend to crave interiority and intimacy in both my non-fiction and my fiction, and this book did not lend that kind of honesty or insight. Moreover, "faux lyricism" is an especial writing pet peeve of mine, and these factors combined made this work very frustrating for me particularly as a reader.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Bryan

    Heart Berries was relentlessly interesting on an intellectual, emotional and stylistic level, and painful to read. The way the plot moved and things got communicated was enigmatic and moving in a way that I find abstract visual art can be. I think the book is really a lot like modern art, and that it pushed the forefront and boundaries of memoir. On the emotional side, the narrator's internal and external struggles were so complicated that the book made me deeply thoughtful, and reading it in on Heart Berries was relentlessly interesting on an intellectual, emotional and stylistic level, and painful to read. The way the plot moved and things got communicated was enigmatic and moving in a way that I find abstract visual art can be. I think the book is really a lot like modern art, and that it pushed the forefront and boundaries of memoir. On the emotional side, the narrator's internal and external struggles were so complicated that the book made me deeply thoughtful, and reading it in one weekend made me feel somewhat wrecked. Yes, in a good way, but also because of the questions the narrator's story and experience raise about mental health as it relates to family history and trauma. In other words, I found the book to be both comforting and disturbing. A deeply complex and interesting read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Krystal

    This poetic memoir deconstructs Indigenous stereotypes, as Terese Marie Mailhot disrupts what her narrative should look like, re-imagining personal sovereignty on her own terms!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Crupi

    I am destroyed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Riva Sciuto

    "You think weakness is a problem. I want to be torn apart by everything. My people cultivated pain. In the way that god cultivated his garden with the foresight that he could not contain or protect the life within it. Humanity was born out of pain." *** What a brave, beautiful and emotional tour de force this is. It is short but powerful, capturing both the depth and breadth of the human condition. Written as an honest and raw love letter to her husband, Terese Marie Mailhot opens our eyes to the "You think weakness is a problem. I want to be torn apart by everything. My people cultivated pain. In the way that god cultivated his garden with the foresight that he could not contain or protect the life within it. Humanity was born out of pain." *** What a brave, beautiful and emotional tour de force this is. It is short but powerful, capturing both the depth and breadth of the human condition. Written as an honest and raw love letter to her husband, Terese Marie Mailhot opens our eyes to the poverty, abuse, and alcoholism that characterized her Native American upbringing; the complexities of her relationship with her parents; the depths of her bipolar and post traumatic stress disorders; and her unending yearning to feel loved in spite and because of her own pain. What results is a beautifully -- even poetically -- written memoir that takes you on the author's journey to make sense of her own suffering. It will leave you with no choice but to feel Mailhot's pain and joy as if they are your own. Divided into short essays, here are my favorite passages from each: Indian Condition: "My professor told me that the human condition was misery. I'm a river widened by misery, and the potency of my language is more than human. It's an Indian condition to be proud of survival but reluctant to call it resilience. Resilience seems ascribed to a human conditioning in white people. ... She [my grandmother] transcended resilience and actualized what Indians weren't taught to know: We are unmovable. Time seems measured by grief and anticipatory grief, but I don't think she even measured time." Indian Sick: "Observation isn't easy, and the right eyes can make me feel like a deer, while the wrong ones make me feel like a monster." "Nothing is too ugly for this world, I think. It's just that people pretend not to see." "The pain was a process to understanding." Your Black Eye and My Birth: "It was then that I realized I was partly my father. I hurt you because I felt justified." "Trying to forget damaged me the most." "His skin is milk, and his body feels electric and unforgiving. He seems like the child my brothers, my sister, and I -- could have been." I Know I'll Go: "His death [my father's] intruded, as I could not fathom being a good person when I came from such misery." "As an Indian woman, I resist the urge to bleed out on a page, to impart the story of my drunken father. It was dangerous to be alone with him, as it was dangerous to forgive, as it was dangerous to say he was a monster. If he were a monster, that would make me part monster, part Indian." "His smell was not monstrous, nor the crooks of his body. The invasive thought that he died alone in a hotel room is too much. It is dangerous to think about him, as it was dangerous to have him as my father, as it is dangerous to mourn someone I fear becoming." The Leaving Deficit: "There is some stillness, even in my history -- a good secret in so much bad. It almost feels like a betrayal to have good thoughts. Sometimes I know part of me is still a ghost, walking next to my mother, looking for something to make an offering to, holding her hand. Either this feeling means that part of me is dead, or that she's alive, somewhere inside of me." Thunder Being Thunder Bear: "I was the third generation of the things we didn't talk about." "Every day I negotiate the minutes of my life, remembering that I can't remember enough. I spend hours convincing myself that no child is ruined -- and the one inside of me is worth remembering fondly. My mother's looming spirit guides me some days, telling me that nothing is too ugly for this world. I am not too ugly for this world." Indian Condition: "I have turned loss into a fortune -- a personal pleasure. It's not a sustainable joy, I know." "I almost killed myself, trying to match your potential joy. It was taking my misery. The thing I am most familiar with. The thing I rove into love. I realized that I could have you and the pain." "Pain expanded my heart. Pain brought me to you, and our children have blood memories of sorrow and your joy, too. They inherited their share, to cultivate their own children, whose humanity and gentleness will remind them of you and me." Four stars for this this powerful and deeply moving memoir.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maddie C.

    An intimate portrait of an Indian woman and her struggles with mental illness and the darkness of her past. Mailhot's writing is poignant, rendering an incredible difficult story into beautiful and heartfelt passages of pure poetry.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Luke Gorham

    Memoir filtered through the poetics of mind and language. Raw, primal, elemental. Memory as abstraction; emotion as compass, weapon, and shield, and yet always as truth. Necessarily fragmented and apportioned, speaking to her loudest truths and structurally, aesthetically informed and sometimes mirroring her diagnosis. Completely unique and immersive reading experience.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Xavier (CharlesXplosion)

    Mailhot is a writer to be reckoned with. Heart Berries is a raw, unfiltered look at Mailhot's life told via ethereal and poetic proses. However, Mailhot's proses felt disjointed at times making her story, at times, inaccessible to the reader.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sue Dix

    I don’t even know how to begin. This is unlike anything I’ve read. It feels like you’re inside the author’s mind, looking out at her life as she comes to terms with herself, her family, her past, present, and future. It’s disquieting, often disturbing, brilliantly written.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    This short memoir deals with a lot of pretty heavy stuff, including child abuse, mental illness, poverty, and the struggles of indigenous cultures. Despite the brutality of the topics, the language is richly poetic and gripping.

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