"Heart Berries: A Memoir" by Terese Marie Mailhot
Though not technically part of my 2018 Reading Challenge, and despite the fact that I am woefully behind in said challenge, when my friend gifted me this beautiful book in June, I couldn’t resist diving right in.And I’m so glad I didn’t wait to read it.
Calling this memoir a book almost doesn’t do it justice, or I guess accurately contain it, because it reads almost like poetry; stream of thought, but poetic and haunting and really beautiful. Mailhot wastes zero words and each sentence has a resounding impact. To borrow from the front of the book, it’s both raw and refined.
Terese Marie explores her life as an Indigenous woman in Canada and the USA, back and forth between memories of her childhood and later as she moves through life. She tells her truth in a way that makes you acutely aware she’s not interested in your pity but also that it can’t be muted how much of her life and experience is defined by being born an Indigenous woman. She steers into the discomfort but lets you come along for the ride.
Nobody wants to know why Indian women leave or where they go. Our bodies walk across the highway from the dances of our youth into missing narratives without strobe lights or sweet drinks in our small purses, or the talk of leaving. The truth of our leaving or coming into the world is never told.
I'm afraid to give away too much, but you know how we've been learning that trauma breeds trauma? This book explores that in unflinching brutality and honesty.
The book is short and easily read in a couple of sittings, so don’t let the heaviness of the material deter you. The beauty of her writing and her story far outweigh the discomfort of trauma and in fact, in case it wasn’t obvious, make it that much more necessary.
You don’t appreciate that you’ve broken me. Lovers want to undo their partners. I feel unveiled and more work than you had bargained for. I was unsure of the currency of men and unaware that losing myself would feel so physical.
Read it. Read it. Read this book. I’ll loan you mine.