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Heart Berries

A Memoir

List Price: $16.95

April 9, 2019 | Paperback | 4.9 x 7.9, 160 pages | ISBN 9781640091603
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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The PBS Newshour/New York Times Book Club January 2020 selection

Selected by Emma Watson for her “Our Shared Shelf” Book Club”
Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language Nonfiction
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection

“A sledgehammer. . . . 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.” –Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Band 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.

“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… [T]he writing is so good it’s hard not to temporarily be distracted from the content or narrative by its brilliance… Perhaps, because this author so generously allows us to be her witness, we are somehow able to see ourselves more clearly and become better witnesses to ourselves.” –Emma Watson, Official March/April selection for Our Shared Shelf

About Terese Marie Mailhot

TERESE MARIE MAILHOT graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an M.F.A. in fiction, and received a Whiting Award for Nonfiction in 2019.

Praise

"A sledgehammer . . . 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 . . . If Heart Berries is any indication, the work to come will not just surface suppressed stories; it might give birth to new forms."—The New York Times

"Heart Berries is a fierce and poetic memoir that grips you from the start and never lets go. Each page, paragraph and sentence is more gut-wrenching than the one before it. An illuminating account of grief, abuse and the complex nature of the Native experience, it is at once raw and achingly beautiful. Terese Mailhot is a truly fearless writer, and this little book is nothing short of a gift."—Juan Vidal, NPR

"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, 1 of 27 Most Anticipated Books of 2018

"One of my favorite books in recent times is Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot. It's just one of those books that demands a second read, and a third, and a fourth . . . There are so many great indigenous writers on the come-up and she's for sure one to watch."—Christian Allaire, Vogue

"Mailhot examines the circumstances of her life--replete with grief, abuse, and structural injustice--with searing honesty and forceful language in her tiny but powerful debut. Steeped in several generations' worth of history, Heart Berries demands to be re-read over and over, every return yielding a new insight."—Julie Kosin, Harper's Bazaar

"Brutal and stunning and honest in a way that felt necessary."—Ada Limón, The Millions

"Eloquent and seething . . . Exquisite."—Leslie Jamison, The Paris Review

"Terse and tough and fierce and honest, Mailhot is an essential new voice in the Native literary world, as well as in the world at large."—Tommy Orange, GQ

"A luminous, poetic memoir."—Entertainment Weekly, 1 of 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2018

"For the person who knows the power of using language to mitigate our feelings of shame. For the person who knows that shame dissipates when you figure out how to tell your story. For the person who has always been told their stories don't matter. For the person who knows that their stories are precisely the kind that matter, because it's been so long and they've never been told. For the person who knows that, after a while, it's easy to mistake pain for the truest form of intimacy. For the person who discovers that there are other ways of being close to people, ways that don't have to hurt always, even if sometimes they do. For the person who knows that truth isn't spelled with a capital T. For the person who knows that the only way out of trauma can be by meeting it head-on."—NYLON, One of the Best Books of the Year

"This gut punch of a memoir . . . [is] essentially a love letter, full of humor and truth, to tough, challenging women everywhere."—Marie Claire

"Terese Marie Mailhot tells a story of family dysfunction and abuse, and of a personal reckoning with mental illness. Tough subject matter, yes, but she approaches it with a disarming and often devastating turn of phrase and the evocation of the fragmentary nature of memory."—The Globe and Mail, A Best Book of the Year

"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... What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined."—Roxane Gay, author of Hunger

"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... [T]he writing is so good it's hard not to temporarily be distracted from the content or narrative by its brilliance...Perhaps, because this author so generously allows us to be her witness, we are somehow able to see ourselves more clearly and become better witnesses to ourselves."—Emma Watson, Official March/April selection for Our Shared Shelf

"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

"Profound and intimate . . . Mailhot writes masterfully about love and forgiveness, and learning to accept intimacy while still protecting oneself."—Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed

"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, 1 of 60 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018

"With gorgeous language and lyricism that never sacrifices honesty and realness, Heart Berries is a brilliant look into what it means to survive, heal, lose, and love."—Isaac Fitzgerald, TODAY

"A heartbreaking and brave story of adversity and survival."—Jennifer Militello, New Hampshire Public Radio

"A startling beauty of a memoir, full of death and life--as much a book about becoming as it is a reckoning with the past . . . It's a book you might finish in an afternoon, knowing it will stay with you always."—Shondaland

"Powerful and raw, Heart Berries looks unflinchingly at trauma, love, pain, self-acceptance, and what it means to be a Native woman today."—BuzzFeed, 1 of 33 Most Exciting New Books of 2018

"A deftly crafted dissection of the messy psychic intersection of trauma, passion, motherhood, and creative ambition . . . It makes room for the kinds of cognitive dissonance we are often tempted to dismiss, elide, or reconcile too easily."—Leslie Jamison, The A.V. Club

"The work is transcendent in the most literal sense, surpassing every readerly expectation about genre and form to create a truly unique book. Mailhot . . . writes deftly about mental illness and indigenous identity, about failure and yearning and ambition. And all of it is unified and amplified by Mailhot's singular voice: bold and poetic and elegant. This is a short book that packs a punch."—Thrillist, One of the Best Books of 2018 (So Far)

"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, 1 of 50 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018

"Utterly arresting . . . Mailhot makes beautiful sentences out of ugly things, addressing the complexities of mental illness, the particular damage wrought by sexual abuse, and the injustices of racism and white male supremacy, in a distinctive, uncompromising style. It is a very empowering read, hard-hitting and politically charged, while at the same time offering a tender celebration of motherhood, its expansive love, its defiance."—Diana Evans, Financial Times

"Mailhot's first book defies containment and categorization. In titled essays, it is a poetic memoir told in otherworldly sentences . . . Not shy, nor raw, nor typical in any way, this is a powerfully crafted and vulnerable account of living and writing about it."—Booklist

"You've never read a memoir--or, really, any book--quite like this. This debut is slim . . . but Mailhot still tells her story with remarkable depth and feeling."—Entertainment Weekly

"Terese Mailhot's debut memoir, Heart Berries, is a book for women who are learning to navigate anger . . . Explicitly discussing mental health and anger as Mailhot does combats systems meant to keep us silent about our pain and internal struggles . . . Mailhot doesn't just name her pain. She shouts it, and in the process, creates a space for other American Indian women to do the same."—B*tch Media

"I read Heart Berries, and then I read it straight through again. I didn't want to feel the absence of Terese Marie Mailhot's voice once I'd been introduced to it."—NYLON, 1 of 10 Great Books You Can Read in One Sitting

"Heart Berries is a short stomach punch of a book--you can read it in one long sitting."—BuzzFeed

"Mailhot fearlessly addresses intimately personal issues with a scorching honesty derived from psychological pain and true epiphany . . . 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

"Sharp and scorching . . . It's exciting to think that a person might be able to write their way out of seemingly insurmountable personal, cultural and historical trauma. It's even more exciting to actually watch someone appear, at least partly, to do so . . . This unconventional epic should be part of the canon."—Chicago Tribune

"[A]n innovative coming-of-age narrative about Mailhot's upbringing on the Sea Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest . . . explores being Indigenous in a world that has neglected the community for centuries."—Bitch, 1 of 30 Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of 2018

"With concise, lyrical prose, Mailhot illuminates her history--an abusive parent, a teen marriage, and a child removed from her care by the courts--in a way that feels as much like an elegy as a collection of memories."—Harper's Bazaar, 1 of 12 New Books You Need to Read This February

"This is not just a work of memoir, it is a work of poetry, of song, of art. It is a thing of beauty."—Book Riot, 1 of 8 Great Literary Memoirs

"Heart Berries is a bruising story, purposefully intense, dark and yet light-filled, in which the act of cleaning is a distraction from pain and also a memorialization of suffering."—Literary Hub, 1 of 10 Important Books About Domestic Labor

"Mailhot's memoir isn't just another confession of the hells of living with PTSD and bipolar disorder: it's a woman writing herself out of the darkness and into acceptance of the events in her life."—The Coil, Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018

"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, 1 of 14 Debut Books by Women Coming Out in 2018 That You Need in Your TBR Pile

"Deeply moving and incredibly beautifully written."—Vogue Australia

"There is plenty of misery in Mailhot's memoir, but also something fresh: a sort of lived-in, jargon-free intersectionality . . . The incidents she recounts are horrific on their face, but rendered with a sense of proportion and self-knowledge that rarely emerges from happier lives."—Vulture, 1 of 7 New Books You Need to Read This February

"Her poetic memoir is painfully straight to the point--in the best way possible. It's a pleasure to read along as she takes control of her life and finds her voice."—HelloGiggles

"Heart Berries is a poetic, coming-of-age memoir told through essays that explore everything from motherhood and daughterhood, to love and loss, to family and identity, to the intersections of art and mental illness, and more. Above all, perhaps, it is a story about women telling stories--the power of women speaking (or writing) hard truths about their lives."—Bustle

"A poetic memoir . . . Mailhot skillfully examines and probes what we think we know about language and memory, imagination and grief, mental health and becoming, pain and love. She asks us to do better, just as she shows herself becoming a more fully-realized version of herself through the course of her book."—Book Riot, Best Books of 2018 So Far

"In this stunning memoir, indigenous author Mailhot does what few in the overcrowded genre can: She fashions a new way of telling a familiar story of trauma, loss and reconciliation."—San Francisco Chronicle

"In an age when memoirs are all the rage (for better or worse), this one stands out . . . Somehow, [Mailhot] has found the words--most unusual ones--to tell her story, and because she uses words in such strange ways, the result is spooky and powerful . . . A roller coaster of a read, and perhaps one especially valuable for those who have struggled with mental illness and/or obsessive love."—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"Mailhot asks us as readers to push beyond our outworn notions concerning female experience, mental illness, motherhood, and more, in order to inhabit that transcendent ambiguity and complexity she reaches . . . Heart Berries takes us on a tour of these very confounding complications and we're richer for it."—Kenyon Review

"Searing . . . A harrowing story of illness, loss, and abuse, as well as the restorative power of writing one's story and having it recognized by others."—Public Books

"Part love letter, part poem, it is a genre-defying marvel of a memoir . . . It is wholly enchanting. Mailhot wrings grand truths out of even the predictable events that define most lives . . . A fearless and artistic work, Heart Berries is ultimately a tale of not just surviving, but thriving even in the dark."—The Star (Toronto)

In gorgeous prose and with searing honesty, she shares her fight for both love and independence."—Read It Forward

"This stunning, poetic memoir from Terese Marie Mailhot burns like hot coal. I read it in a single feverish session, completely absorbed and transported by Mailhot's powerful and original voice . . . The strength of her writing comes from Mailhot's fearless embrace of emotional darkness and in her depiction of the psychic cost of living in a white man's world."—BookPage, Nonfiction Top Pick for February

"Mailhot works language like a poet and lets memory and time twist around to elicit from herself deeper truths about childhood trauma, mental illness, Native identity, love, romance, and motherhood."—Pasatiempo

In the poetic essays that compose this memoir, Terese Marie Mailhot examines coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest; post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; memorializing her mother; reconciling with her father; and more.—Autostraddle

"Her story is surprising and illuminating, pushing away from traditional narratives and expected boundaries . . . Her own gift is the ability to speak the truth without fear of consequence."—Guernica

"Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot: Stories that untell the dominant culture's cover story from the point of view of a First Nation Woman. Absolutely astonishing in its wrestling of hustle and heart."—Lidia Yuknavitch, "A Year in Reading

"Heart Berries shook me to my core. It wasn't just the emotionally jarring, painful experiences shared by author Terese Marie Mailhot . . . but also by her unembellished, electric prose."—Inlander

"Brief but mighty."—THE Magazine

"Presenting herself at times as 'ruined'--and 'ruining'--she radiates a vulnerability that Fields's deft narration captures. Mailhot's questions and answers at the audiobook's end are especially enlightening; listeners may want to listen once through, then loop back a second time to fully absorb her intimate honesty."—AudioFile

"In this poetic memoir of remarkable lyric power, debut author Terese Marie Mailhot blends a deeply personal narrative with fierce (and often funny) political consciousness in sentences so lean that reading them smarts . . . The immense hurt in this book cannot dim the steady beam of Mailhot's brilliance. Heart Berries is a triumph to relish."—The Riveter

"Through this beautifully written memoir we get glimpses, snapshots and explicit details of her experience . . . It goes without saying Heart Berries is necessary today."—Rebel Women Lit

"In these 11 essays, Mailhot takes readers on her journey toward personal truth: a messy, revelatory process reflected both in the book's narrative structure and its searing, poetic language . . . A lyrical work from a remarkable new author, Heart Berries is a triumph."—The Gazette (Iowa)

"Mailhot resists linearity in this impeccably crafted memoir, instead using poetic fragments to arrive at deeper truths about violence, trauma and the cyclical nature of recovery."—San Francisco Chronicle, Recommendations from Kepler's Books

"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

"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

"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, award-winning author of The Break

"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

"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 short-listed novel Son of a Trickster

"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

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