Heart Berries
“An epic take—an Iliad for the indigenous. It is the story of one First Nation woman and her geographic, emotional, and theological search for meaning in a colonial world…Terese is a world-changing talent, and I recommend this book with 100% of my soul.” —Sherman Alexie, author of You Don’t Have to Say You Love MeHeart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. 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 Marie 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, re-establishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.

Heart Berries Details

TitleHeart Berries
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherCounterpoint Press
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography Memoir

Heart Berries Review

  • Roxane
    January 1, 1970
    Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here, is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small. She writes of motherhood, loss, absence, want, suffering, love, mental illness, betrayal, and survival. She does this without blinking but to say she is fearless would be to miss the point. These essays are too intimate, too absorbing, too beautifully written, but never ever too much. What Mailhot has accomplished Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here, is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small. She writes of motherhood, loss, absence, want, suffering, love, mental illness, betrayal, and survival. She does this without blinking but to say she is fearless would be to miss the point. These essays are too intimate, too absorbing, too beautifully written, but never ever too much. What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined, testament.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    Terese Marie Mailhot’s poetic, shapeshifting memoir Heart Berries, a series of tiny impressionistic essays of self-exploration into the very roots of trauma and madness, is as impossible to describe as it is to shake off. Mailhot is a woman at odds with herself and the world, and her book is in a soul-searching dialogue moving towards self-acceptance by means of the creation of a new definition of self. Reading her book is a dangerous activity, as I’m sure writing it was. A First Nations woman, Terese Marie Mailhot’s poetic, shapeshifting memoir Heart Berries, a series of tiny impressionistic essays of self-exploration into the very roots of trauma and madness, is as impossible to describe as it is to shake off. Mailhot is a woman at odds with herself and the world, and her book is in a soul-searching dialogue moving towards self-acceptance by means of the creation of a new definition of self. Reading her book is a dangerous activity, as I’m sure writing it was. A First Nations woman, the product of equal parts early trauma and cultural fortitude, she wrestles with her need, her greed, her hunger, her longing, desperate for love and yet trying the very people she loves the most—unapologetically, cutting to the bone with it all. I wanted to protect her as she interrogated her life and her actions, examining issues of grief and prolonged trauma, the naked craving for love and acceptance, a life disrupted by mental illness and the ongoing question of identity, the rage to matter—to herself most of all. Here’s just a bit from the very beginning: “The ugly truth is that I lost my son Isadore in court. The Hague convention. The ugly of that truth is that I gave birth to my second son as I was losing the first.” The matter of factness of the voice belies a blistering grief.“I packed my baby and left the reservation. I came from the mountains to an infinite and flat brown to bury my grief, I left because I was hungry.... 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 condition in white people.”She is both self-defining and enraged at her self-definition. ‘I feel like a squaw. The type white people imagine: a feral thing with greasy hair and nimble fingers wanting. My earliest memories, and you , and the baby, have turned earth in my body. I don’t know what I am anymore.You have made me feel sick of myself.”Her specificity eludes blame, not for an unwillingness to take responsibility but because of the sheer vividness of the description and the acceptance of pain as part of life, foundational. Although the language is very simple and straightforward, the mind behind them is anything but. The juxtaposition of exceptional intelligence and intense wounded need is as compelling to read as it was/is to live, and the resulting images and simple statements provides a resonant poetry, the impressionistic treatment of time and place reveals layers, circling back as memory does.It is a tiny book to hold such intensity—there were times I could only read a few pages at a time before needing to let what I’d read sink in. It reminded me most of Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women in its depiction of messy lives that can’t be packaged and judged. Mailhot questions everything, and gives frank admission to the jaggedness of her nature, the passion and the yearning, the ugliness and the beauty and the desperate need, her complex and at times contradictory feelings about herself as a contemporary Native American woman and writer--pride and veneration warring with culturally induced shame and a rage against performance and trying to find an authentic way to be.For all its intensity, it is a quiet book, intimate as a confessional. The paragraphs are short, the sentences short and modulated. There is no overstatement. It’s this contradiction that makes the book so memorable. It’s as if the writer and the broken woman are working their way towards one another in front of your eyes.I didn’t feel ‘done’ when I was finished—it dared me to come back and see whether my initial reactions shifted in a second reading, a third, maybe more.Heart Berries will hit the bookstores in February 2018.
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  • Krystal
    January 1, 1970
    This poetic memoir deconstructs Indigenous stereotypes, as Terese Marie Mailhot disrupts what her narrative should look like, re-imagining personal sovereignty on her own terms!
  • Leigh
    January 1, 1970
    Still processing - this was a difficult read for me and likely will be for folks with family histories of abuse or mental illness - there is a big room in the library in my head full of difficult books great for writing and reading the way out of trauma and this is one of those, absolutely. But beyond that:Terese Marie Mailhot is a staggeringly gifted writer. Her experimentation with form and style and her resistance to (I kind of hate to say this but) "stereotypical memoir" narratives of redemp Still processing - this was a difficult read for me and likely will be for folks with family histories of abuse or mental illness - there is a big room in the library in my head full of difficult books great for writing and reading the way out of trauma and this is one of those, absolutely. But beyond that:Terese Marie Mailhot is a staggeringly gifted writer. Her experimentation with form and style and her resistance to (I kind of hate to say this but) "stereotypical memoir" narratives of redemption and recovery make this a five-star read for me. It's tight - Every word and every sentence are necessary. I've quoted whole pages to friends - she doles out moments of pure hard bright truth throughout that had me laughing and weeping publicly. In short: this book gutted me and I loved every page for it. I also greatly appreciated the Q&A afterword with Joan Naviyuk Kane, which adds some more context & info.Thanks to Catapult and Counterpoint for the review copy -
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  • Chelsea Bryan
    January 1, 1970
    Heart Berries was relentlessly interesting on an intellectual, emotional and stylistic level, and painful to read. The way the plot moved and things got communicated was enigmatic and moving in a way that I find abstract visual art can be. I think the book is really a lot like modern art, and that it pushed the forefront and boundaries of memoir. On the emotional side, the narrator's internal and external struggles were so complicated that the book made me deeply thoughtful, and reading it in on Heart Berries was relentlessly interesting on an intellectual, emotional and stylistic level, and painful to read. The way the plot moved and things got communicated was enigmatic and moving in a way that I find abstract visual art can be. I think the book is really a lot like modern art, and that it pushed the forefront and boundaries of memoir. On the emotional side, the narrator's internal and external struggles were so complicated that the book made me deeply thoughtful, and reading it in one weekend made me feel somewhat wrecked. Yes, in a good way, but also because of the questions the narrator's story and experience raise about mental health as it relates to family history and trauma. In other words, I found the book to be both comforting and disturbing. A deeply complex and interesting read.
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  • Jennybeast
    January 1, 1970
    This is not ordinarily the sort of book I pick up, but I found it powerful and disturbing and heart wrenching to read. Mailhot writes her madness in an extraordinarily compelling way, one that viscerally portrays the abuse and trauma at the heart of her story. Every time I went to put it down, I found myself compelled to pick it up again.Advanced Reader's Copy provided by Edelweiss.
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  • Tommy
    January 1, 1970
    Heart Berries is heartbreaking and breathtaking in its scope, vision, and beauty. There’s nothing out there like this book. It is formally experimental and yet totally accessible. There is truth, power, and beauty in more sentences here than in almost any book I can think of. Terese uses the truths and facts of her own life to explore bigger themes about what it means to be Native now, what it means to be a Native woman, and what it means to write with stakes and grace. The book has teeth and he Heart Berries is heartbreaking and breathtaking in its scope, vision, and beauty. There’s nothing out there like this book. It is formally experimental and yet totally accessible. There is truth, power, and beauty in more sentences here than in almost any book I can think of. Terese uses the truths and facts of her own life to explore bigger themes about what it means to be Native now, what it means to be a Native woman, and what it means to write with stakes and grace. The book has teeth and heart and brain. It is a mythical, lyrical work about motherhood, about pain, loss and love. I was left in awe. Terese is an essential new voice in the Native literary world, as well as in the world at large. She’s a force to be reckoned with.
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  • Maja Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Terese Marie Mailhot and Counterpoint Press for providing an advanced copy.Short, poetic, and raw. I'm still processing this one. Although it falls at a tiny 160 pages, it takes a while to read each page as there are no extra words, no extra phrases--it is packed and dense and heavy.I liked the Q&A afterword with Joan Kane, which adds some more information and discussion with the author.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    Was able to read an advanced copy. Interesting, short, but poetic and deep.
  • Marzie
    January 1, 1970
    I received an Advanced Reader Digital Copy of this book from Edelweiss+, and a paper review copy in addition.In Sherman Alexie's almost effusive introduction to Terese Marie Mailhot's book Heart Berries he glibly (by his own admission) says that Terese puts the "'original' in aboriginal." He obviously has a lot more experience reading the writings of Native Americans, Indigenous, and First Nations writers than I but I can absolutely concur that her writing is truly original and a voice of heartb I received an Advanced Reader Digital Copy of this book from Edelweiss+, and a paper review copy in addition.In Sherman Alexie's almost effusive introduction to Terese Marie Mailhot's book Heart Berries he glibly (by his own admission) says that Terese puts the "'original' in aboriginal." He obviously has a lot more experience reading the writings of Native Americans, Indigenous, and First Nations writers than I but I can absolutely concur that her writing is truly original and a voice of heartbreaking authenticity. This book is like a prose poem in places and in others is like a crazy quilt of connections to events in Mailhot's life. Some of the passages in this book were originally intended to be polemic fictional accounts of the lives of First Nations/Native women. But Mailhot, according to a wonderful interview with Joan Naviyuk Kane in an Afterword, says she quickly decloaked and began to strip away any fiction from her narrative. What was left behind is raw, painful, and incredibly brave writing reflecting on relationships, loneliness, parenting or lack thereof, mental illness, abuse of all sorts, and gives us a fierce soul surviving and thriving against what seem like steep odds. While I understand that Mailhot writes with the paradigm of a First Nations woman, she is also writing about the general human condition, with all our awful mistakes, broken families and illusions, our vulnerabilities, and idiosyncrasies. I'm sure there are going to be some who pick up this book and think that this is going to require some esoteric understanding of Native culture or that this is some chick lit memoir. I'm assuring you it doesn't and it's not. This book is filled with powerful stuff. It's as searing and personal as Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey but has a unique voice that is often wry and sometimes even just plain hilarious. Just show up. You won't be sorry. Filled with what she calls the ugliness of life (I refuse to think of it as the ugliness of her life), Mailhot has definitely made a honey reduction. I cannot wait to read more of her work in years to come.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    "Salish stories are a lot like its art: sparse and interested in blank space. The work must be striking." This is an incredible, searing memoir - there's not a word wasted in Mailhot's frank and unflinching portrayal of her childhood, her relationships, and her struggles with bipolar disorder. It's less a chronicle of "what happened" and more a glimpse into the author's tumultuous interior life, captured in vivid, ferocious prose. Sparse and striking indeed.
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  • Chris Bingley
    January 1, 1970
    “I believe in the author’s right to tell any story, and the closer it comes to a singular truth the more art they render in the telling.” Terese Mailhot sets out to reinvent Native memoir, by stressing both the unique nature and universality of her experience. The discussion of language’s power and the inventiveness of this memoir’s structure made it immensely readable. The short poetic prose made for a quick read, but for that reason, I feel the need to spend more time with this book (especiall “I believe in the author’s right to tell any story, and the closer it comes to a singular truth the more art they render in the telling.” Terese Mailhot sets out to reinvent Native memoir, by stressing both the unique nature and universality of her experience. The discussion of language’s power and the inventiveness of this memoir’s structure made it immensely readable. The short poetic prose made for a quick read, but for that reason, I feel the need to spend more time with this book (especially after reading the afterword for some context of the author’s writing process and motivations).*received advanced copy as part of giveaway*
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    This a beautiful and powerful memoir in essays. So much of it is heart wrenching, and yet it exudes the authors strength and perseverance.
  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    My wife said this was a fascinating, enjoyable book. So much to learn.
  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a Goodreads First-reads giveaway and I am extremely grateful. I'm absolutely blown away by this book. It is astounding! I was mesmerized...couldn't put it down! The experience of this book is going to sit with me for a long, long time. It has torn open my own emotional wounds, and left me unable to adequately put into words how I was affected by Terese Marie Mailhot's brilliantly poetic and emotional story. It is a painful read, but I highly recommend it!
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  • Kend
    January 1, 1970
    When I first received my review copy of Heart Berries, I knew I was facing a busy couple of weeks before I'd have a chance to get to it, so I loaned it to a coworker who shares my taste for regional fiction and nonfiction. I figured that since she had lived here no the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes' reservation for more than thirty years, she might have more insight, too, into how this book fits into the larger literature of the Salish. I was not wrong; and my feelings, when I did ev When I first received my review copy of Heart Berries, I knew I was facing a busy couple of weeks before I'd have a chance to get to it, so I loaned it to a coworker who shares my taste for regional fiction and nonfiction. I figured that since she had lived here no the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes' reservation for more than thirty years, she might have more insight, too, into how this book fits into the larger literature of the Salish. I was not wrong; and my feelings, when I did eventually carve out a handful of hours to savor this book, echoed hers. She says:I wasn't sure what was happening at first, but the more I got into [Heart Berries], the more I understood what the author set out to do. By the end, it all made sense. It's a harsh book, but beautiful.A few notes: The preface by Salmon Rushdie and Mailhot's back-of-the-book materials provide critical context for reading this book. In sum, it is both a direct product of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and it blurs fiction with memoir, making it a fascinating hybrid that will probably please more people to read as fiction than as nonfiction. (I'm just guessing at that, of course.) I know that I felt a certain discomfiting feeling, perhaps even disappointment, when I realized that a book I had taken to be strictly memoir was in fact a hybrid—I'm not now sure whether I misinterpreted the promotional materials or whether it is, in fact, not quite spelled out there—but I recognize that had I known, or interpreted the signs correctly, I would have had a radically different reading experience, and felt no disappointment at the author's postscript revelation.That said, Mailhot's command of language is sublime. Each line reads like a prose poem, and the chapters are bite-sized essays in that they are individually short and they give fresh treatment to a number of implicitly posed questions about motherhood, sex, and the indigenous experience. I'm not qualified to analyze that last item, but I can damn well talk up this book as a powerful Voice that definitely ought to be read. It evokes all sorts of complicated, sometimes conflicting feelings, and it testifies to Mailhot's refusal to live a life defined by ... well, outside perspectives. She's brilliant and I'm grateful that this book found its way into my hands.
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  • Laura Kendall
    January 1, 1970
    This is just one long, dangerous, heartbreaking, beautiful, book-length poem that happens to be a memoir.
  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    It's always hard to leave a review on a memoir. It's even harder to do that on a memoir that's about 50% poetics and 50% brutal truths. Noticing the gaps in storytelling and all the untold female tales, Mailhot achieves a lasting impression with her absolute honesty about her mother, her family, and her life in Heart Berries.
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  • Rhonda Lomazow
    January 1, 1970
    Open honest real raw.A difficult life fraught with mental health issues beautiful stream of consciousness writing to sweep you away,
  • Sadie Ruin
    January 1, 1970
    So beautiful yet so sad. The writing is impeccable. The voice of the author propels the reader along a journey of self discovery through mental illness and race.
  • Amy Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Raw, angry, powerful, messy and beautiful are some of the first words to come to mind after reading this story. Terese Mailhot details her life with brutal and hearbreaking honesty after she is given a notebook "to write her way out of trauma" after being hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar II and PTSD. Mailhot was raised on a reservation in BC by her mother a social worker and activist who also struggled with mental illness and too much a Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Raw, angry, powerful, messy and beautiful are some of the first words to come to mind after reading this story. Terese Mailhot details her life with brutal and hearbreaking honesty after she is given a notebook "to write her way out of trauma" after being hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar II and PTSD. Mailhot was raised on a reservation in BC by her mother a social worker and activist who also struggled with mental illness and too much affection for prisoners. Mailhot reconciled later in life with her father an abusive alcoholic but an incredible artist. Memories of trauma from her father in earlier life resurface during the time of Mailhot's mental break that lend much anger, fear and understanding to the author's words. A brilliant memorial to Mailhot's mother and an incredibly moving and inspiring tale of her own successes and triumphs in the face of her past and present struggles.
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book, and I'm not sure if the reason I didn't click with this book was because it was me or if it was the book. Personally, I thought the "memoir" categorization of this book a bit misleading, because it wasn't a straightforward memoir but more a sense of interconnected essays about the author's life. It was disjointed and was a bit hard to follow. The writing was gorgeous, and from a literary perspective, was very well done. It wasn't until later that i I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book, and I'm not sure if the reason I didn't click with this book was because it was me or if it was the book. Personally, I thought the "memoir" categorization of this book a bit misleading, because it wasn't a straightforward memoir but more a sense of interconnected essays about the author's life. It was disjointed and was a bit hard to follow. The writing was gorgeous, and from a literary perspective, was very well done. It wasn't until later that important things were clearly laid out that cleared up some of my confusion earlier in the book. But as a memoir? It just didn't work for me. The writing style obfuscated events and and created a barrier between the author and me. I never connected with her, despite the fact that I should have.Review copy courtesy of the publisher via Book of the Month's Readers Committee.
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  • Mona AlvaradoFrazier
    January 1, 1970
    Terese Marie Mailhot's poetic memoir is a punch to the gut. She writes with honesty and integrity, never sugar-coating her experiences as a child or young adult dealing with mental health problems, dysfunction, family issues, or love experiences.Mailhot's intimate essays are beautifully written and intense, 'not raw' as she says, but refined. "I packed my baby and left the reservation. I came from the mountains to an infinite and flat brown to bury my grief, I left because I was hungry... I’m a Terese Marie Mailhot's poetic memoir is a punch to the gut. She writes with honesty and integrity, never sugar-coating her experiences as a child or young adult dealing with mental health problems, dysfunction, family issues, or love experiences.Mailhot's intimate essays are beautifully written and intense, 'not raw' as she says, but refined. "I packed my baby and left the reservation. I came from the mountains to an infinite and flat brown to bury my grief, I left because I was hungry... 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."This isn't an 'easy' read, and sometimes I stopped reading just to process a chapter, but it's an important memoir because abuse can devastate, love can break a person, people we trust can deceive, and racism is alive. How one lives through these painful events is a story worth telling.
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  • Chantelle Dixon
    January 1, 1970
    Oh man. THIS BOOK. The writing is poetic and stream-of-conscious-like, which takes it to the next level but also is its downfall. You have to read s.l.o.w.l.y. to really appreciate the style, and she has these incredible one-liners that will just ZING you. And the guts of the story itself were beautiful and searing and terrible. Mailhot is a passionate, emotional narrator. Those are all good, incredible things.But it just didn't come together. It rambled and wound in and around itself, and meand Oh man. THIS BOOK. The writing is poetic and stream-of-conscious-like, which takes it to the next level but also is its downfall. You have to read s.l.o.w.l.y. to really appreciate the style, and she has these incredible one-liners that will just ZING you. And the guts of the story itself were beautiful and searing and terrible. Mailhot is a passionate, emotional narrator. Those are all good, incredible things.But it just didn't come together. It rambled and wound in and around itself, and meandered into the past and back to the present five times in the space of one page, and then did that over and over again. It felt unedited -- like she had sat down and spilled everything in her that was raw and hurting, and this is the result. So it is a beautiful book -- but not one that's close to being polished. The beginning in particular was difficult. I would get pulled in and then her rambling would pull me right out again. My lasting impression of this book is: "A woman shatters herself for a guy over and over and over again."
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    Mailhot's memoir weaves back and forth throughout her life and is mainly written to her lover as she takes the reader on a journey from her youth to the present. Reading it was like reading snapshots of her life and it was more like poetry than the usual memoir which made it a refreshing read for this reader. I won a copy of this book from the publisher as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.
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  • Pam Mooney
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written memoir that will touch your heart and stay with you forever. The truths and experiences expressed are difficult to process in one reading - I know I will read this book one more time. The questions with answers at the end of the book really added to the experience and understanding for me. Thought provoking and a good read.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I found that reading this book was like listening to someone tell me about their. There wasn't a lot of fluff which I really liked. I found it to be very emotional and you could feel the constant struggle she had with self worth. It was a great read and I was able to read it in one day.
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  • Lisa Gimblett
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a goodreads giveaway contest. I wanted to love this book but it jumped around so much I was confused as to what was going on. I admire the strength to write about her traumatic life.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Poetic and beautiful prose. A memoir about the writer's experience with mental health conditions, trauma, and indigenous roots. Powerful stuff.
  • Amy Jenkins
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written.
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