Warnings: Sexually Explicit Content, Violence, Abuse
What an outstanding memoir, Heart Berries was unputdownable and is one of the few books that I would honestly read again. Terese’s prose is precise and strikingly beautiful even when she is talking about difficult topics. I read the book over the course of a day at work and I was fully absorbed in the author’s story.
This book was a lot of things. It is a book about reckoning with mental illness and childhood abuse, about motherhood and her struggle to maintain personal relationships, about finding an indigenous voice that is authentic to her. Heart Berries is short but tells a complex story about the author, an indigenous woman raised in poverty and a bipolar single mother suffering from post-traumatic stress.
As a warning so there are no surprises, Terese will not be a person that everyone will like. She unabashedly admits to using men in the past, some of her views and insecurities can come off as mildly racist, and there is one point in the novel where she commits an act of violence against a partner. No matter what that partner does, violence is wrong, period.
At the same time, these omissions show how human Terese is. She is flawed just like everyone else, she has been hurt, she has made mistakes, she does not sugar coat the truth which is so refreshing to see in a memoir. People very often try to present themselves as an idea, their flaws are downplayed. They have the space to explain their transgressions which don’t normally happen. Not so with Heart Berries, Terese bears her heart and soul to the reader and doesn’t give excuses for anything. I find her an admirable and even relatable person for the way that she views the world and the way that she responds to emotional turmoil. I’ve struggled for a few weeks now to put my thoughts together on this book, it’s one I continue to think about since I finished reading and I’m so glad that this book is out there.
“I wanted as much of the world as I could take, and I didn’t have the conscience to be ashamed.”