Heart Berries

Heart Berries : A Memoir

3.86 (10,997 ratings by Goodreads)

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Winner of the Whiting Award for Non-Fiction
Selected by Emma Watson as an Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick

'I loved it' Kate Tempest
'Astounding' Roxane Gay
'A sledgehammer' New York Times

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on an Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalised 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.

Memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination. In Heart Berries, Mailhot discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, re-establishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 144 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 15mm | 106g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1526604507
  • 9781526604507
  • 59,613

Review Text

A sledgehammer . A mixture of vulnerability and rage, sexual yearning and artistic ambition, swagger and self-mockery . A new model for the memoir New York Times
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Review quote

A sledgehammer ... A mixture of vulnerability and rage, sexual yearning and artistic ambition, swagger and self-mockery ... A new model for the memoir * New York Times * I loved it ... Powerfully written, intricately executed. I felt like I read the whole thing in one breath -- Kate Tempest 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 ... What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined -- Roxane Gay Mailhot writes compassionately from deep within the Native experience, never losing sight of her responsibility towards its telling, never losing sight of herself ... This is a slim book full of raw and ragged pain, the poisonous effects of sexual abuse, of racial cruelty, of violence and self-harm and drug addiction. But it is not without a wry, deadpan humour and clever derision ... Mailhot alludes at one point to her desire and her felt duty as a Native writer to convey the humanity of her people and subvert stereotypes. She has succeeded by telling the ugly truth with rich and beautiful words and sumptuous imagery. This is a startling book * Guardian * Soul-baring ... A debut that showcases a gifted writer with a distinct literary sensibility' * Observer * Perfect ... The writing is so good it's hard not to temporarily be distracted from the content or narrative by its brilliance ... It feels right and vastly overdue to be reading a story from a First Nation woman with her perspective of a colonial world. I loved her keen observations of white people (like me) and their ways. It's critical to be reminded that there are ways of thinking and seeing things that endure and have existed long before colonizers -- Emma Watson Raw, emotional and powerful ... [Mailhot's] meditation on mental illness, motherhood and race is breathtaking * Stylist * Eloquent and seething ... [A] precise, exquisite book -- Leslie Jamison * Paris Review * One of those books that demands a second read, and a third, and a fourth ... Candid, honest, and sometimes, even strangely comical. I couldn't put it down -- Summer Reads * Vogue *
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About Terese Marie Mailhot

Terese Marie Mailhot graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an MFA in fiction. Heart Berries, her first book, was shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction. She teaches creative writing at Purdue University and resides in West Lafayette, Indiana.
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Rating details

10,997 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 31% (3,358)
4 37% (4,034)
3 24% (2,647)
2 7% (731)
1 2% (227)
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