Heart Berries

Heart Berries

A Memoir

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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 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."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Berkeley, California : Counterpoint, [2018]
ISBN: 9781619023345
Call Number: B M282a
Characteristics: xvi, 142 pages ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

January 2019

Heart Berries fearlessly addresses personal issues with a scorching honesty derived from psychological pain and true epiphany. SFPL's November - December 2018 On The Same Page selection.

Named One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018 by
Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, B*tch, NYLON, Bustle, The Rumpus, and Goodreads

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 13, 2020

A worthy read. The sentences are short, and precise. Each sentence adds to the narrative gallop through a range of intense emotions. Yet, despite this, I feel as though the author creates space to be quiet and vulnerable and to share the small moments that add together to make her story. I am grateful to listen.

Jan 05, 2020

A young Indigenous woman writes her memoir—a damaged life at the start but perhaps hopeful now. This month’s NYT/PBS NewsHour reading choice is an unsparing rendering of choices and consequences. Fierce. Interestingly structured. My early life experience was so very different. While I wanted to empathize, I struggled. I told my husband I wasn’t sure I was literate enough to appreciate her writing!

Nov 05, 2019


Oct 02, 2019

This Memoir by Terese Marie is non-linear and written with such Poetry that the repugnancy of her pain and trauma while quite bleak, fierce and on the verge of causing the reader to scream with anguish and vexation, instead becomes dulcet and compelling. Her courageous & vulnerable stream of consciousness Writing is something innovative and abstract in this genre and although it took me a minute to adjust, ultimately I came to marvel at and appreciate. I wished that she had shared other aspects of her Journey since the bulk of it was consumed by her relationship with one particular man who was a manipulative liar and so by choosing to have a child with him she is now in a life long relationship with someone quite toxic. This left me feeling that for her there is no end to suffering and pain, which seems unnecessary, self-sabotaging and incongruent. I was fortunate enough to listen to the Audiobook as well, and I found the Narrator, Rainy Fields brought the precise tone this story needed. A unique and nuanced read for those interested in a modern Indigenous Woman's audacious story.

STPL_JessH Sep 12, 2019

I am in awe of the way Terese Marie Mailhot manages to oscillate between stunningly crafted sentences and stark moments of confession. Mailhot writes the body, in a way I have not encountered before: as though it is both tether and wings, rooted and yet decidedly unbound, buried and free form.

Words like courageous, honest, truth, cannot encompass Heart Berries and the rhetoric it holds. Mailhot's work resists definition because she is writing beyond genre-limiting labels. Mailhot's storytelling exists within a continuum extending far beyond common understanding of "memoir" or "life story."

To really sit in the contradictions and to make art amongst hurt and trauma and joy and loss is a beautiful kind of artistry. Indeed, one that demands much more of the author than the reader will ever know. In fact, nothing I can say about this book will come close to really describing how moved I was, and will continue to be, by this work. The best I can do is say:
This is a meditation on existence, recognition, and pain. Read it. Read it again. Stop reading and really listen to the story.

Aug 15, 2019

I’ve never read a memoir like this. The author grew up in an abusive and dysfunctional family on a Native American reservation. The story may be short, but don’t count on finishing it quickly. There’s lots to think about and reread. The essays can be disturbing but bring insight into how women are treated and how they can work to heal themselves.

Aug 08, 2019

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Mailot in a memoir writing workshop. The structure of the narrative is not a jumbled mess, nor a stream of consciousness. The emotive quality is conveyed through economy of words.

Apr 19, 2019

A memoir of a woman writing her way out of trauma and mental illness. While much of her background was "typical" of aboriginal peoples, overall the book did not seem indigenous to me because of the narcissism of the author.

Feb 22, 2019

This book read like a manic state. I know the author suffers from mental illness, and I certainly understand this may account for the way it was written...but I found it both hard to read AND compelling to continue. This doesn't make sense even as I write these few sentences, I realize that. I wanted to like the book, but I found it hard to fall into. Just my opinion.

Jan 27, 2019

This was a very intense and honest portrayal of grief, loss, and mental illness.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Oct 02, 2019

"Things were created by story. The words were conjurers, and ideas were our mothers.
Thunder is contrary. Thunder can intuit, and her action is the music caused by lightning. She comes because we ask, and that’s why falling apart is holy."

Jul 27, 2018

"My mother's looming spirit guides me some days, telling me that nothing is too ugly for this world. I am not too ugly for this world."


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SFPL

To Top