Terese Marie Mailhot's cathartic memoir Heart Berries gives us a rare type of introspection from a young writer. Her words are real, raw and riveting.
Much like the style of the book itself, I've noted some interesting snippets.
About white people: "White people are brutally awkward, even you." Mailhot wrote when referring to boyfriend Casey listening to a Spanish radio station to "immerse himself in the language."
"You ruined me with a touch. It was different than exploitation." Also Casey.
She described a blond mutt that looked like a white woman's dog as "the type of dog that was meant to be roadkill, but rescue missions for stupid dogs interfered with the natural world."
She and her mother found an eagle carcass with it's feathers plucked, and her mother's comment was "White men."
"Feathers are a gift and flexible protein. Mom out down tobacco and ran her fingers over its exposed parts. She told me the salmon run was coming, and this bird would have wanted for nothing. She wanted me to see the deficit white people leave."
With pain, she explains why she was near tears over poor service from a server. She doesn't tell Casey how she & her mom were always disregarded by white waitresses and heckled by men.
Her mother didn't foster self esteem in herself so she couldn't teach it to her daughter. She thinks "self esteem is a white invention to further separate one person from another. It asks people to assess their values and implies people have worth. It seems like identity capitalism."
When she didn't understand a group counselor saying to forgive isn't for the perpetrator, but for one's self. "In white culture, forgiveness is synonymous with letting go. In my culture, I believe we carry pain until we can reconcile with it through ceremony. Pain is not framed like a problem with a solution. I don't even know that white people see transcendence the way we do. I'm not sure that their dichotomies apply to me."
About poverty: "The strange thing about poverty is that maintaining a level of desperation and lack of integrity keeps the checks rolling in." She caught hell when she was a child for lying and telling someone who called from the unemployment office that her mother was at work.
About Paul Simon: "I began to suspect they were flirting when I went with my Mom to the library to look up if Paul Simon had a wife. I didn't want Paul Simon to be my father. I saw an album cover once. He wore turtlenecks. He was pasty. He had beady eyes."
About love: "I realized that love can be mediocre and a safe comfort, or it can be unhinged and hurtful. Either seemed like a good life."
She "wondered if falling in love looked like a crisis to an observer." Said about a man she was with but didn't like, and didn't want to be distracted from the man she wanted to be with.
About reality: "...having the baby didn't make things better."
I received Heart Berries in a GoodReads giveaway.
Until next time,