I recently finished Heart Berries, a memoir, by Terese Marie Mailhot. It was one of the most visceral reading experiences I have had. Her use of language transcends a story merely on a page. Her experiences are transformed into multidimensional, complicated scenarios of discrimmination, neglect, rejection, suffering, and motherhood that read both like stories and poems at the same time. Her self-awareness is at once a deeply internal contemplation and also a commentary and criticism of society as a whole. She graciously uses her painful story as a foundation for a broader discussion about racial discrimmination against natives, particularly native women, and what systemic racism does to families, cultures, and entire generations of people. The touching way that she brings her own experience of motherhood into the story next to her painful experience of being mothered by a distant addict was profound and moving.
She weaves the narratives and characters through her experiences with hospitalization for mental illness, relationships, motherhood, and school with a delicate and careful mastery that kept my heart open and my mind fixated on the next sentence. She is a writer that will delight and surprise you. Underneath the beautiful language telling a painful story, she is what shines through it all as a resilient and strong voice.