Our Shared Shelf discussion

Mar/Apr '18: Heart Berries > Heart Berries: A Memoir, by Terese Marie Mailhot - Reviews

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Allie (new)

Allie (goodreadscomallisonnaylor) | 11 comments This is not a review, but I wanted to let everyone know that the author of Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot, was on the March 7th episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah discussing the book. If you get a chance, check out the interview! It should be available online somewhere.

message 2: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Allie wrote: "This is not a review, but I wanted to let everyone know that the author of Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot, was on the March 7th episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah discussing the book. ..."

Thanks Allie!

message 3: by Cyn (new)

Cyn | 80 comments I just finished the book.
First of all, I think it's easy reading in the sense that the language she uses is simple but yet powerful.
I was glued to it since the very beginning, and what struck me the most was how she portrayed herself. Personally (and I hope I'm not offending anybody), I think she had low self esteem because she always (or most of the times) thought about herself as dirty or less worthy. I think that could be because of her whole family situation as well as the society she lived in.
As the book went on, I started to understand some of her behaviour.
In the last couple of chapters I felt that sorrow enveloped me. All her trauma (her father's abuse, her suicidal attempt) made me feel upset.
It was very brave of her to talk about everything she had gone through.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Emma wrote: "Allie wrote: "This is not a review, but I wanted to let everyone know that the author of Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot, was on the March 7th episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah discuss..."

I say her writing style took a while to get into as I have always been used to structured writing, ones with a story correlate with one another, my first time with essay ones.

message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 18, 2018 07:50AM) (new)

I read it twice in a day since (just like Keith) there are many information to assimilate and it was a bit disjointed (in my opinion).

Also it was tough to read because psychological traumas are always complexe. There are like poisons that erode your being little by little until you realize there is something wrong (some people do not realize there is something wrong).

I think the way how it is written perfectly fit with what the author is telling. I do not really have the words to describe it. I would say it is like pieces someone is trying to bring together, is trying to understand in the attempt to glue back or rebuild. So disturbing (because it reminded scars) but powerful. Very brave to write her story.

I agree with Whitney. Every single time I read the word Indian I did not find any correlation between what she described and the fact she is Indian. At first, I thought I am probably missing something and when I read the book again I had the same feeling (maybe I am still missing something ;)).

message 6: by Whitney (last edited Mar 18, 2018 07:32AM) (new)

Whitney | 7 comments Just finished this book and read it in less than a day. Not exactly sure what to make of it- I had high expectations and they were met in some ways but not in others. I also just finished Girls Burn brighter which was one of the darkest books but highlighted ridiculous strength in women so that could have affected my perception of this book.

The good: the writing is very powerful and unique in its style. Very well written and I appreciate the essay format and voice. I appreciated how direct the writing was because it allowed me to understand the author more. Tough subjects discussed and are the focus of the book. There was some positivity and light in the story, but overall it was very dark. Considering the heavy topics addressed (suicide, mental disorders, rape, violence) it was presented well and in such a way that I wanted to keep reading.

The bad: I thought the story would be more focused on her culture and growing up in a seabird island colony and not so much on all the darkness she experienced. The relationship she had with Casey was horrible and I kept telling her like I would a friend, what are you doing? Why do you keep going back to him? You are stronger than this! Yet, he was the center of a lot of the horror she went through. It is amazing the strength she had to write this and go through what she did but her dysfunctional romantic relationship reminded me a lot of many battered women I have worked with and unfortunately made her seem weak.

Overall: a thought-provoking, unique, and very well-written memoir. I had really high expectations and unfortunately, the book overall fell short. 5/10

message 7: by Lucy (new)

Lucy | 39 comments This memoir was truly touching. It was beautiful, poetic and heart breaking.

This book was the first book I have read by a First Nation author. It was great to explore the similarities and differences in our culture and experiences. This book explores her childhood and relationship with her mother, her abusive father, the different men in her life - focusing mainly on Casey and her relationship as a mother and the difficulties she faced.

Throughout this book it is clear that she suffers from low self-esteem and depression she writes this by describing herself as "dirty" and stating the times she washes her face 3or 4 times. But when reading this book you begin to understand why she feels this way through excerpts of her life. Some of the circumstances she had been in were truly heart breaking.

There were so many beautiful quotes that my book is covered in post-it's.

I would definitely re-read this in the future just to go through the emotions this book invoked !

message 8: by Lauren (last edited Mar 31, 2018 12:10PM) (new)

Lauren (lulu_belle) | 7 comments Here's the full review, or rather my impressions, on my book blog.
Reading this book dampened me and left me in a fog. But that's not to say I didn't like it. I haven't been this affected by a book in a very long time, in fact. It made me feel a lot of things, and I'm better for having read it.

message 9: by Ana, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Ana PF | 746 comments Mod
I'm more than halfway through the book and all I can say for now is that it's hard not to be moved by it, and also that it takes a lot of effort not to judge the author in more than a few moments. I'm just glad she survived all of this. Not many would.

message 10: by Pam (last edited Apr 01, 2018 08:45AM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Sometimes time doesn't change anything on a person: the expressions of a child hints at the adult face. While the adult’s scar can still bleed even if it was the child that bore it.

Mailhot's memoir explores this timelessness of memory and the moments that make and un-does. She flips the narrative and explains not how pain came to be, but rather the after effects of it: the relationships strained, the emotional well-being capsized, the unconscious need for forgiveness and punishment.

Searing. Sweet. Brutal. And so painfully honest. Mailhot walks readers backwards through her memories; removing biassness, removing the mind’s ever so careful censorship as we review the emotional wreckage left in the wake decades in the making. She leaves readers not with the call to action and vengeance, but contemplating the perception of truth and our ability to move on.


I too read her novel as it spoke to me. Not as an Indian writer, but as a woman who discovered what her mind was willing her to forget. Though there were many complications and joys that arose from that piece of her identity

message 11: by Krystal (new)

Krystal (crazylittlebookpage) | 55 comments I haven't yet read it I'm waiting for a copy to arrive in the mail so I'll add when I get it but I would like to say all of these are really great thoughts!

message 12: by Sierra (new)

Sierra | 42 comments This isn't a formal review, but I think this is a book that needs lots of reflection. I discussed it with friends and that is when I felt the true influence of this book.

The way it dealt with mental illness is beautiful, hard, and necessary in our current world. I have always thought I was open and accepting of those with mental illness, but never have I felt or came close to understanding their suffering like I did while reading this book.

Mailhot's openness to show her own faults, is incredibly moving and inspired self reflection for my own wrong doings, as well as memories I'd hidden away inside. I think all women can relate to this book, but I would be prepared to take time reading it, because her story is raw, and it will rip open your own scabs.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

It was a really tough reading. I'm not a native english speaker and the way this book is written upsetted me a little bit.

Apart of that, it's a really good memoir with a lot of sentences to quote. It's a kind of a slap in our face as the story is hard at times. It makes us appreciate our situation (in my case obviously) and relativize our own problems.

message 14: by Briony (new)

Briony (naiadra) | 58 comments My god. This book is stunning.
The blood jet apparently really is poetry. This book is incredibly raw, vivid, almost Plath-ian and confessional, but it's also so refined, so carefully crafted and wrought. The vivacity and brutality and pure honesty is refreshing, sometimes hit-you-in-the-face loud, and sometimes so subtle.
It's not an easy read, but the rhythm of her writing and the way she weaves language is something you eventually fall into, and Mailhot pushes the emotion, both content and craft, of her narrative into your very bones.

I love the way she writes about life, love, motherhood, mental illness, and she takes genres of abuse narrative and Native American writing and makes them hers, defying classification. This book shatters any box that could try to contain it. She rejects white culture's conceptions of Native American mysticism but crafts her own magic with clarity and authenticity and a very personal, sometimes wavering, poignant yet strong voice.

One of my favourite quotes in the book is: “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.”

Also read Roxane Gay's review of it - it's brilliant!

message 15: by Zachary (new)

Zachary (inwordstruth) | 22 comments Briony wrote: "My god. This book is stunning.
The blood jet apparently really is poetry. This book is incredibly raw, vivid, almost Plath-ian and confessional, but it's also so refined, so carefully crafted and w..."

As I have only just joined this group I am excited to delve into everything, and your review Briony makes me wish I would have found the group sooner so I could have joined in on the discussion of this book. Really a fantastic review, and am excited to get to this book (sadly after the group has probably already moved on to the next one).

message 16: by Jo, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Jo (jo_9) | 373 comments Mod
Zachary wrote: "Briony wrote: "My god. This book is stunning.
The blood jet apparently really is poetry. This book is incredibly raw, vivid, almost Plath-ian and confessional, but it's also so refined, so carefull..."

You still have 2 weeks before we move on Zachary...and there is no rush, some people are just starting our first book from over 2 years ago ;-)

message 17: by Sue (new)

Sue I just finished reading this book. I joined this group recently and this is my first read with OSS.

I found the stream of consciousness a little difficult at first, but I treated it like a string of conversations with a friend. You don't get the story in order, but eventually the whole thing comes out.

I thought the author was incredibly brave to share such personal and intimate information so publicly. Mental illness, childhood abandonment, failed love affairs and marriages - any one of these topics would be hard. But I can see for the author, it may have seemed like she couldn't talk about any of it without talking about all of it.

I'm really enjoyed this book. And I loved reading Roxane Gay's interview! What a treat - and the interview was posted just as I finished reading, so perfect timing for me!

message 18: by Zachary (new)

Zachary (inwordstruth) | 22 comments Jo wrote: "Zachary wrote: "Briony wrote: "My god. This book is stunning.
The blood jet apparently really is poetry. This book is incredibly raw, vivid, almost Plath-ian and confessional, but it's also so refi..."


Fantastic, thank you. I will add it to my list I have two books I have to finish for a TBR Twins thing, and another book club, but that will be next. Not big on reading multiple books at once. I may be able to start it middle of next week. Exciting. Thank you

message 19: by Kate (new)

Kate Griffiths (katemariegriffiths) | 73 comments Heart Berries is a truly heart-breaking story. 💔 I cried chapter after chapter - the whole first 3. Tears dripped from my eyes; I couldn’t believe what I was reading and I couldn’t believe the horrendous way Terese was treated in parts. Then you realise it was a memoir no less. It is a true story!
Now this is a non-spoiler review and so am not going to go into too much detail, other than the fact some of the events in this book are horrendously sad.😢
Terese’s writing is beautiful in parts and has some poetic phrases intertwined throughout the book, but for the most part I wasn’t there for her writing (as brilliant as some sections were). ✍🏻 It was her clear emotions and grounded nature that made me respect her and admire her. Her rawness! The odd moment she went from being poetic to pulling a punch of emotional honesty a little too quickly, but that was more of a tonal shift of the paragraph, rather than her actual writing.
Her story is very well paced and for a memoir that is very impressive. 👍 The chapters flew by: I was so invested in her story. 📖 My only issue with the structure of the story was some reflections felt a bit out of place, on the other hand I think they were useful to the overall message of the chapter and the book.
I liked listening to Mailhot’s voice and I agree her relationships with her partners are a big deal, what I was left most intrigued with was the relationship with her children though. It was briefly touched on in some chapters, but I never felt like I knew any of them enough, other than her connection to them. It just seemed a bit unbalanced the way her love-life was discussed compared to her children.👩‍👦(non-spoiler).
The last three chapters felt the most comforting to me and that’s probably because she begins to realise how strong and beautiful she is. 💪🏻❤️ The ending felt very satisfying and easily the best part of the memoir- as some of you may know the ending of any book is very important, because it is the feeling the reader will remember when they finish it. I got to the end with a smile on my face after... lots of crying. 👍😭☺️
In conclusion if anyone is asking me,
“Kate, how good is Heart Berries?”
I hope you’d be pleased to know I found it very, very good. Just get your tissues ready though.

message 20: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Simionescu | 1 comments First off, I loved the book! Suffering from PTSD myself, I felt like I could really understand her. For the first time, I actually felt like I wasn't alone and that someone else knows how I feel. The simple language made her memoir much more human, than if she were to focus on poetic deliverance (which I love as well, but has it's place). The only thing that I wasn't crazy about was that sometimes, her thoughts would jump around a little too quickly to grasp without pausing for a second to realize the shift. Other than that, she is an amazing woman. I hope her memoir helps others to realize that they too are not alone.

message 21: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle Murray (aestheticgabe) | 2 comments The book was amazing! I have a brother who suffers from Bipolar II and it was so interesting to read about her personality and how that compares to my brother. He’s not very open about his disorder and it’s so beautiful to read how much she loves. My brother professes his love for my sisters and our mom and I feel like I can see and feel his love more by the way her disorder is illustrated because I very much feel that people with bipolar disorder feel and think in different ways and maybe that doesn’t fully connect, but it was just a thought that I had. This book made me lose time in my commute on the subway. It was something that I could fully focus on because it captivated me. Which is hard to do on an NYC subway, but totally happened. This book was heart-wrenching and gorgeous. I loved every minute of it. If anyone who lives in NYC wants to meet up and discuss this book in full length, I would love to. There are far too many words to describe this book. I could write a book haha. Beautiful. Wonderful pick!

message 22: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Another beautiful interview on Heart Berries from the On Being podcast/blog. If you're not familiar, On Being is a "conversation about the big questions of meaning in 21st century lives and endeavors — spiritual inquiry, science, social healing, and the arts. What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live? And who will we be to each other? Each week a new discovery about the immensity of our lives. Hosted by Krista Tippett."


message 23: by Charlene (new)

Charlene Morris | 89 comments Heart Berries was an engrossing book. The writing style was perfectly chosen for the subject.

It is definitely a book to re-read later and get more from.

message 24: by Mary Beth (new)

Mary Beth (lifelovebooks) | 2 comments I just keep thinking about it. It is a book that is small but mighty. The weight of her words and her experiences are something that are going to take time to process and then to reread.

message 25: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Stone (alysonserenastone) | 149 comments Book: Heart Berries
Author: Terese Marie Mailhot
Rating: 2 Out of 5 Stars

Another Our Shared Shelf book! This is the second one I’ve read this week. I read it in one sitting because it is so short, but I don’t know…It just didn’t hit well with me. Don’t get me wrong, I really did want to like it, but it just didn’t come together for me.

I honestly cannot tell you what Terese was trying to get across. It seemed like she was just all over the place and really couldn’t hold a thought. There was a lot of jumping around. It kept on going back and forth between the past and the present without really adding anything to the story. It was overall poorly put together. To me, it still needs a good edit.

Now, as many of you know, Our Shared Shelf does read a lot of memoirs; most of which are really great and powerful reads. However, Terese’s writing just doesn’t bring that power out. Compared to My Life on the Road, The Radium Girls, and others, Heart Berries just didn’t make me question anything or even think. I just didn’t feel anything at all.

I guess what I’m getting at is the book just didn’t make sense to me. I have read other books that refer to the abuser as “you,” but I just could not follow what was going on at all. It was hard to keep track of who people were, the time framework, and so on.

I did like getting to read about the world from a Native American author’s point of view. I know what she was trying to get at and all. She was trying to write about a very serious events. We get to see what it’s like to be a poor Native American in today’s society. She writes about her depression and her personal struggles with it. It does take a lot to put yourself out there like that and I do admire Terese for that.

However, despite what the book was trying to send out did not come across the page. I thought that Heart Berries was poorly put together as a whole. Maybe had it been a little bit better edited or longer, then it may had been a better read.

back to top