Heart Berries: A Memoir - Terese Marie Mailhot

Title: Heart Berries: A Memoir
Author: Terese Marie Mailhot*
Pages: 160
Genre: Non-fiction, Biography, Memoir
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library:

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II, Terese 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. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this straightforward memoir of Ms. Mailhot's life up until this point.  While the book isn't presented in a straightforward manner, it is straightforward in that you know what she is talking about in each chapter, as each chapter has a certain focus.

I also liked that she didn't sugarcoat her life in British Columbia (she grew up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation not far from where I grew up and live; it is probably about an hour drive from my place) and that she acknowledges her dysfunctional as a cause for her depression.

Bottom line: It is very short (under 200 pages) and very poignant.  Warnings for description of suicide among other things.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

* the copy I had didn't include the introduction nor the afterword


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