Heart Berries

Heart Berries

A Memoir

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
*Canada Reads 2019 Longlist

*National Bestseller
* New York Times Bestseller

*Finalist for the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
*Finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Awards
*Longlisted for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize
*Winner of the Blue Metropolis First Peoples Prize
*Winner of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature
*Winner of the 2019 Whiting Award for Nonfiction
*Shortlisted for the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize
*Shortlisted for the 2019 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction

*A New York Times Editor's Choice
*A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2018
*A CBC Best Book of 2018
*A Toronto Star Best Book of 2018
*A Walrus Best Book of 2018
*An NPR Best Book of 2018
*A Chatelaine Best Book of 2018
*A Bustle Best Book of 2018
*A GQ Best Book of 2018
*A Thrillist Best Book of 2018
*A Book Riot Best Book of 2018
*An Electric Lit Best Book of 2018
*An Entropy Best Book of 2018
*A Hill Times Best Book of 2018
*A BookPage Best Book of 2018
*A Library Journal Best Book of 2018
*A Goodreads Best Book of 2018
*A New York Public Library Best Book of 2018

*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

*Selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick for March/April 2018

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.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780385691147
Branch Call Number: 971.13700497 Mailh
Characteristics: xviii, 154 pages ; 20 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
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.

Nov 24, 2018

At the end of the book, after the interview of the author, Terese Mailhot, the interviewer askes the questions: So, where are we? Where we have always been. Where are you? I am more aware, I found personal truth on every page of this masterful work. I see my culture more clearly through the eyes of the author; she is a bright, clear mirror reflecting the pain that colonization has cause our indigenous peoples. This book should be mandatory reading in every Canadian classroom. It is art, it is truth, it is sadness, and it is a joy!

Nov 23, 2018

Raw is the only word that comes to mind after reading this. Raw and painful. Yet, the prose is almost poetic. I'm glad I read it just the same.

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."

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities 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 VPL

To Top