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Heart Berries

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  19,107 ratings  ·  2,628 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 143 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Counterpoint Press
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Torina Upbeat is not a word I would use to describe this book. Raw. Honest. I didn't find it to be sad but it definitely wasn't happy.…moreUpbeat is not a word I would use to describe this book. Raw. Honest. I didn't find it to be sad but it definitely wasn't happy.(less)
Anne Donna Cheng, according to the copyright information in the Kindle edition!

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 ·  19,107 ratings  ·  2,628 reviews


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Roxane
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Emily May
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Emily May by: Roxane Gay
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 n
...more
Hannah
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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
...more
Michael
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, recs
In Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot recounts her coming of age as a Nlaka'pamux woman in a society hostile toward her existence, while questioning what it means to ethically narrate the stories of Native lives. Written in terse and fragmented prose, the memoir consists of eleven essays that span a broad range of topics: motherhood and autonomy, mental breakdown and healing, trauma and memory, abuse and addiction, resistance and hope. The nonchronological essays recall each other in affecting ...more
Elyse  Walters
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Diane S ☔
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
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
...more
Elle (ellexamines)
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
...more
Richard Derus
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
ETA $3.99 on Kindle! An amazing bargain.

Shattering. Beautiful. Agonizing. Necessary.

I will never, ever read this book again. I'm glad I borrowed it from the library so it will not be in my home. This isn't a story I want to have exerting its metaphysical gravity on me while I'm sleeping.
...more
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 ...more
Janet
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Chantelle Dixon
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
...more
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
...more
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 ...more
Lucy Langford
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This memoir was truly touching. It was beautiful, poetic and heart breaking.

The memoir follows Mailhot's childhood on an Indian reservation, the dysfunctional upbringing and relationship she had with her mother, her abusive father and explores her relationships with different men in her life- particularly one man named "Casey". This books also explores her suffering of losing one of her children in a custody battle whilst pregnant with her second child. She finds herself hospitalised with a dia
...more
Meike
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-read, canada
Terese Marie Mailhot has just received the Whiting Award 2019
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, Mai
...more
Warda
Apr 02, 2020 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-publishers
DNF.
This book just wasn't for me.
...more
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
...more
Lotte
Rating a memoir is always a little difficult — I don't want to make it seem as though I'm rating someone's personal experience. And wow, what a life Terese Marie Mailhot has led. I'm in awe of her perseverance and the sheer fact that despite everything, she just kept going. However, this doesn't change the fact that I found this incredibly tedious to read and I just don't think it works well as a memoir.
This mostly comes down to the writing. To me, it seemed as though someone had written a compl
...more
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
...more
Eli
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
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.
Kathleen
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Tori (InToriLex)
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Haley
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 -
...more
Lucy Dacus
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading this felt like having a fever. It was beautiful and disorienting and disjointed and honest. The writing feels like thoughts of a mind contending with trauma in real time.
❤️
I finally got a chance to read this much anticipated piece, though I have to say that I have some conflicted and even contradictory feelings upon reading it. On one hand, I was only a few pages in when I understood that Terese Marie Mailhot is an extraordinary writer. But on the other hand, I actually felt, despite the intense and beautiful style of Mailhot's words, very disconnected from her writing.

Heart Berries has a very poetic feel to it, and it's written with a non-linear, unfixed approac
...more
Rebecca
Mental illness, alcoholism, abuse, abandonment – the subject matter of this stylish, fragmentary memoir is not easy to take. Mailhot was raised on a First Nation reservation on an island off of British Columbia. She is wary of equating her family with native stereotypes, but there’s no denying that her father was a drunk and ended up murdered. After a childhood of abuse and foster homes, Mailhot committed herself to a mental hospital for PTSD, bipolar II and an eating disorder. It was there that ...more
Janelle Janson
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
...more
Mandy
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Janet
Apr 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
I don't understand all the love for this book. Written in the first person and using short, staccato sentences Mailhot relates her experiences as an abused, indigenous woman. There is a Q&A section at the end of the book where she relates that she was trying to separate her story from emotion and mysticism and that called for plain language but to me, it came across as wooden and devoid of those qualities that would make it interesting to read. The short sentences don't do her any favors so far ...more
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Play Book Tag: Heart Berries - 3 stars 1 9 Jan 20, 2021 09:37PM  
Play Book Tag: Heart Berries - Terese Marie Mailhot, 4 Stars 2 16 Dec 11, 2019 06:54PM  
Jane's Stories: 2018 Johnson Award Winner: Heart Berries 1 8 May 13, 2019 10:08AM  
Reading Women: 9) A Book by an Australian or Canadian Author 33 181 Nov 08, 2018 12:22PM  

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Terese Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Elle, Granta, Mother Jones, Medium, Al Jazeera, the Los Angeles Times, and "Best American Essays." She is the New York Times bestselling author of "Heart Berries: A Memoir." Her book was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for English-Language Nonfiction, and was selected by Emma Watson as the Our Share ...more

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November is National Native American Heritage Month in the United States, and it's the perfect time to read a new book by an Indigenous writer....
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“I felt breathless, like every question was a step up a stairway.” 63 likes
“In white culture, forgiveness is synonymous with letting go. In my culture, I believe we carry pain until we can reconcile with it through ceremony. Pain is not framed like a problem with a solution. I don’t even know that white people see transcendence the way we do. I’m not sure that their dichotomies apply to me.” 60 likes
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