BOOK REVIEWS

Heart Berries: A Memoir Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-07-09 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:1619023342
LANGUAGE:English

" In his introduction for this memoir, Sherman Alexie writes that within three sentences he knew Mailhot was a "generational talent." That she was something completely and wholly new. I completely agree. " said.

"I can hear my aunt's voice, telling me that if my security depends on a man's words or action, I've lost sight of my power.

I think I am more a fan of spare, unpoetic prose. At certain times, the writing style of "Heart Berries" reminded me, slightly, of spoken-word poetry. It's just personal preference that this kind of art is really not to my taste.

Neverthless, "Heart Berries" was an important read, offering a perspective that is rarely seen in mainstream media: an Indigenous woman's battle with mental illness, heartbreak, and identity. Mailhot's dedication to art and storytelling is commendable, her honesty bold and refreshing.

A unique memoir that, I think, is a valuable addition to feminist literature.
" said.

" 4.5. Memoir filtered through the poetics of mind and language. Raw, primal, elemental. Memory as abstraction; emotion as compass, weapon, and shield, and yet always as truth. Necessarily fragmented and apportioned, speaking to her loudest truths and structurally, aesthetically informed and sometimes mirroring her diagnosis. Completely unique and immersive reading experience. " said.

"Really wish it wasn't the case, but this book was not the one for me...I feel like I wasn't in sync with Mailhot's thought process, which could definitely just be my fault as a reader. Every moment I wanted to be clear, was too abstract, and I felt a general distance from everything she was trying to say. :(

I know this is on many peoples' TBRs, which was why I wanted to pick it up in the first place. I'm eager to see what y'all have to say about it—maybe some other opinions will lead me to appreciate it more...
" said.

" I don’t even know how to begin. This is unlike anything I’ve read. It feels like you’re inside the author’s mind, looking out at her life as she comes to terms with herself, her family, her past, present, and future. It’s disquieting, often disturbing, brilliantly written. " said.

" This short memoir deals with a lot of pretty heavy stuff, including child abuse, mental illness, poverty, and the struggles of indigenous cultures. Despite the brutality of the topics, the language is richly poetic and gripping. " said.

""You think weakness is a problem. I want to be torn apart by everything. My people cultivated pain. In the way that god cultivated his garden with the foresight that he could not contain or protect the life within it. Humanity was born out of pain."

***

What a brave, beautiful and emotional tour de force this is. It is short but powerful, capturing both the depth and breadth of the human condition. Written as an honest and raw love letter to her husband, Terese Marie Mailhot opens our eyes to the poverty, abuse, and alcoholism that characterized her Native American upbringing; the complexities of her relationship with her parents; the depths of her bipolar and post traumatic stress disorders; and her unending yearning to feel loved in spite and because of her own pain.

What results is a beautifully -- even poetically -- written memoir that takes you on the author's journey to make sense of her own suffering. It will leave you with no choice but to feel Mailhot's pain and joy as if they are your own.

Divided into short essays, here are my favorite passages from each:

Indian Condition:
"My professor told me that the human condition was misery. I'm a river widened by misery, and the potency of my language is more than human. It's an Indian condition to be proud of survival but reluctant to call it resilience. Resilience seems ascribed to a human conditioning in white people. ... She [my grandmother] transcended resilience and actualized what Indians weren't taught to know: We are unmovable. Time seems measured by grief and anticipatory grief, but I don't think she even measured time."

Indian Sick:
"Observation isn't easy, and the right eyes can make me feel like a deer, while the wrong ones make me feel like a monster."
"Nothing is too ugly for this world, I think. It's just that people pretend not to see."
"The pain was a process to understanding."

Your Black Eye and My Birth:
"It was then that I realized I was partly my father. I hurt you because I felt justified."
"Trying to forget damaged me the most."
"His skin is milk, and his body feels electric and unforgiving. He seems like the child my brothers, my sister, and I -- could have been."

I Know I'll Go:
"His death [my father's] intruded, as I could not fathom being a good person when I came from such misery."
"As an Indian woman, I resist the urge to bleed out on a page, to impart the story of my drunken father. It was dangerous to be alone with him, as it was dangerous to forgive, as it was dangerous to say he was a monster. If he were a monster, that would make me part monster, part Indian."
"His smell was not monstrous, nor the crooks of his body. The invasive thought that he died alone in a hotel room is too much. It is dangerous to think about him, as it was dangerous to have him as my father, as it is dangerous to mourn someone I fear becoming."

The Leaving Deficit:
"There is some stillness, even in my history -- a good secret in so much bad. It almost feels like a betrayal to have good thoughts. Sometimes I know part of me is still a ghost, walking next to my mother, looking for something to make an offering to, holding her hand. Either this feeling means that part of me is dead, or that she's alive, somewhere inside of me."

Thunder Being Thunder Bear:
"I was the third generation of the things we didn't talk about."
"Every day I negotiate the minutes of my life, remembering that I can't remember enough. I spend hours convincing myself that no child is ruined -- and the one inside of me is worth remembering fondly. 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."

Indian Condition:
"I have turned loss into a fortune -- a personal pleasure. It's not a sustainable joy, I know."
"I almost killed myself, trying to match your potential joy. It was taking my misery. The thing I am most familiar with. The thing I rove into love. I realized that I could have you and the pain."
"Pain expanded my heart. Pain brought me to you, and our children have blood memories of sorrow and your joy, too. They inherited their share, to cultivate their own children, whose humanity and gentleness will remind them of you and me."

Four stars for this this powerful and deeply moving memoir.
" said.

" Mailhot is a writer to be reckoned with. Heart Berries is a raw, unfiltered look at Mailhot's life told via ethereal and poetic proses. However, Mailhot's proses felt disjointed at times making her story, at times, inaccessible to the reader. " said.

September 2018 New Book:

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