***Named one of the most anticipated books of 2018 by: Chatelaine, Entertainment Weekly, ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Huffington Post, B*tch, NYLON, BuzzFeed, Bustle, The Rumpus and Goodreads
A New York Times Editor's Choice
Guileless and refreshingly honest, Terese Mailhot's debut memoir chronicles her struggle to balance the beauty of her Native heritage with the often desperate and chaotic reality of life on the reservation.
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.
TERESE MAILHOT graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an MFA in fiction and is the Saturday Editor at The Rumpus and a columnist for Indian Country Today (where her work has been recognized by the Native American Journalists Association). Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Carve Magazine, The Offing, The Toast, Yellow Medicine Review and elsewhere. The recipient of several fellowships--SWAIA Discovery Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, Writing by Writers Fellowship, and the Elk Writer's Workshop Fellowship--she was recently named the Tecumseh Post Doctoral Fellow at Purdue University.
"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." —Roxane Gay
"Heart Berries is a sledgehammer . . . a mixture of vulnerability and rage, sexual yearning and artistic ambition, swagger and self-mockery. . . . Her experiments with structure and language . . . are in the service of trying to find new ways to think about the past, trauma, repetition and reconciliation, which might be a way of saying a new model for the memoir." —The New York Times
"Part love letter, part poem, [Heart Berries] is a genre-defying marvel of a memoir. . . . A fearless and artistic work, Heart Berries is ultimately a tale of not just surviving, but thriving even in the dark." —Toronto Star
"Unearthing medicine and receiving power requires you to give your life and, in her debut memoir, Mailhot fearlessly delivers. By turns tender, sad, angry and funny, Heart Berries is a thought-provoking, powerful exploration of what it means to be a contemporary Indigenous woman and mother." —Eden Robinson, author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted novel Son of a Trickster
"Sometimes a writer's voice is so distinctive, so angry and messy yet wise, that her story takes on the kind of urgency that makes you turn pages faster and faster. Terese Marie Mailhot has one of those voices, and her memoir about being raised on a Canadian reservation and coming to understand what it means to be an indigenous person in modern times is breathtaking." —Esquire
"Although this slim and devastatingly calibrated memoir which features brief, impressionistic and carefully modulated essays tops out at 160 pages, Heart Berries truly does provoke the reader to reconsider what it means to be epic. . . . Sharp and scorching, her approach walks the knife's edge between accessibility and experimentation." —Chicago Tribune
"This gut punch of a memoir . . . [is] essentially a love letter, full of humor and truth, to tough, challenging women everywhere." “Marie Claire
"A luminous, poetic memoir." —Entertainment Weekly
"Powerful and raw, Heart Berries looks unflinchingly at trauma, love, pain, self-acceptance and what it means to be a Native woman today." —Buzzfeed
"The narrative is by turns lucid and hazy, leaving the reader basking in sharp images, moments of tenderness and anger, and a bone-deep sense of pain." —Chatelaine
"This powerful memoir reveals a life of struggle and illness, deprivation and pain, but is so full of strength in the face of adversity, that it is impossible not to read it and feel real hope and the possibility of triumph and renewal, no matter how dark things seem. . . . The result is this singularly moving, poetic book, one full of rage and desire, fear and brilliance. Prepare for it to sink its teeth into your very heart." —NYLON
"A memoir in essays, Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries tells the story of the author's coming-of-age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest—one filled with dysfunction and a dual diagnosis of PTSD and bipolar disorder. What did Mailhot do with all that? She wrote her way out of her trauma, finding forgiveness, understanding, peace and triumph along the way." —Bustle
"Heart Berries makes for a slim volume, but it feels as though it weighs a thousand pounds. It turns its gaze on a constellation of fraught subjects. . . . What brings it all together is the oracular power of Mailhot's voice, which speaks into the silence: amplifying aspects of experience that have been muted, animating despairs and passions we tend to hide from view." —The Atlantic
"Mailhot fearlessly addresses intimately personal issues with a scorching honesty derived from psychological pain and true epiphany. . . . She shares these anecdotes through lyrical, brooding, vastly introspective language. Her prose expresses the urgency of her life in clipped, poetic sentences that snap and surge with grief and intensive reflection. . . . Slim, elegiac and delivered with an economy of meticulous prose, the book calibrates the author's history as an abused child and an adult constantly at war with the demons of mental illness. An elegant, deeply expressive meditation infused with humanity and grace." —Kirkus Reviews
"Poetic is an oft-used descriptor of lovely writing, and this book seems to be something more striking than the word signifies: a memoir and a poem, a haunting and dazzlingly written narrative of Mailhot's growing up on a reservation in the Pacific Northwest." —Huffington Post
"This book is ache and balm. It is electric honesty and rigorous craft. It concerns a woman who veers into difficult and haunted corners. She meets ghosts and hospitals. She ends up in a mutinous wing of memoir; disobeying all colonial postures, 'neat narratives,' formulas and governments. The resulting story is brave and bewitching. I am so grateful to Terese Marie Mailhot, a fiery new voice, whose words devoured my heart." —Kyo Maclear, bestselling author of Birds Art Life
"Inside Terese Mailhot's phenomenal memoir Heart Berries the truth wrestles a knot between hustle and heart. How does a woman raised on a reservation in Canada forge a lifestory in the face of a culture hell bent on keeping her quiet and calm? By and through her body, is how, and this woman's body rages, desires, screams and whispers its way into the reader's body, as if to remind us that the rest of the story will not be silenced. Terese radically reinvents language in order to surface what has been murdered by American culture: the body of a woman, the voice of a warrior, the stories of ancestral spirit jutting up and through the present tense. I am mesmerized by her lyricism because it is shot through with funny angry beautiful brutal truths. This is a writer for our times who simultaneously blows up time. Thank oceans." “Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan, The Small Backs of Children, Dora: A Headcase, and The Chronology of Water
"Heart Berries is phenomenal. I finished the book and went right back to the beginning to read through once again; my understanding deepened, as did the mystery. Mailhot's voice is so clear, so disruptive, so assured, and always so mesmerizingly poetic--it somehow startles and lulls all at once. I was KNOCKED DOWN." —Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
"In this debut memoir, Terese Marie Mailhot sends across generations a love letter to women considered difficult. She sends a manifesto toward remembering?culture and heartbreak and laughter. She writes to the men who love these women. She writes prose tight as a perfect sheet, tucked . . . To read this book is to engage with one of our very best minds at work." “Toni Jensen, author of From the Hilltop
"Heart Berries makes me think of a quote I have always loved: 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty' (Keats). With a keen eye for intense truth and thoroughly-crafted beauty, Mailhot's debut sings like poetry, and stays with you long after you've finished the last page." ?Katherena Vermette, Governor General's Award-winning author of North End Love Song
"There is some word we have not invented yet that means honesty to the hundredth power, that means courage, exponentially extended, that means I will flay myself for my art, for my survival, for my family, to keep breathing, to keep writing, to keep being alive. Inside that opening is beauty beyond all measure, the truth that art was invented to carry, and power enough to light the word. This book is that kind of opening." —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
"Shot through with funny angry beautiful brutal truths. This is a writer for our times who simultaneously blows up time." —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
"I am quietly reveling in the profundity of Mailhot's deliberate transgression in Heart Berries and its perfect results. I love her suspicion of words. I have always been terrified and in awe of the power of words?but Mailhot does not let them silence her in Heart Berries. She finds the purest way to say what she needs to say." —Emma Watson
"This stunning, poetic memoir from Terese Marie Mailhot burns like hot coal. . . . Situating her physical and psychic pain in context with a multigenerational focus, Mailhot crafts an intensely moving story about mothers and what they pass down to their children." —BookPage