I think I was meant to read this stunning memoir right at this moment in time. I’ve been feeling particularly triggered by the news these past few weeks, and beginning to wonder again about the disservice I am doing to myself and others by not being able to talk about the childhood trauma I carry with me, masked lesions on my body, scars that don’t disappear just because we talk about them. Terese Marie Mailhot describes the effects of intergenerational trauma in a way that speaks to me directly, cuts through me as my brain recognizes and relates, my body curling into itself again and again as I read.
This memoir is sheer poetry, the writing flows beautifully; jarring, real, ripping you apart. I read it in one day, not being able to put it down, but at the same time unwilling to reach the last page.
Written pen to paper during a psychiatric stay Terese Marie Mailhot committed herself to after a breakdown, Heart Berries starts as a letter to her now husband Casey and evolves into a memoir of a life where normalcy never became an option until she was well into adulthood. Born into dysfunction, abuse, and poverty, with an alcoholic and abusive father, a mother committed to saving others while leaving her children to fend for themselves, and a grandmother who had survived the horrors of the Canadian residential schools as a child, Terese Marie Mailhot weaves past and present together as one. How does one raise one’s voice when no one wants to hear it? How does one break the cycle for once and for all? Heart Berries is Terese Marie Mailhot’s answer to those questions, and so much more.
We have spent far too long erasing, dehumanizing, categorizing, and forgetting Native American women. These are the voices that we need to listen to. These are the voices we must hear. Terese Marie Mailhot grew up on the Seabird Island First Nation Indian reservation in British Columbia, and her voice is so strong and powerful. She writes so beautifully, her heritage and upbringing woven together in her now, and her memoir strips her soul bare to the world, inspiring in its truth and multi-faceted visions of her childhood, her mind, her love, and her search for difference. I can’t recommend this book enough, and I know I will need to reread it again very soon.