Heart Berries: A Memoir

Heart Berries: A Memoir

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...

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Title:Heart Berries: A Memoir
Author:Terese Marie Mailhot
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Heart Berries: A Memoir Reviews

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Emily May

    It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of Mailhot's writing in

    . 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.

    is a Native American woman's memoir written in short, hard-hitting essays. I'm not

    It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of Mailhot's writing in

    . 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.

    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

    (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 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.

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  • Debbie

    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!

    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 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.

    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.

    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.

    Lidia Yuknavitch endorsed this book. She’s the author of one of my favorite memoirs,

    . 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.

    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.

    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.

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