Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

This is the first book I’m featuring in my 12 days of favourite books – something I started last year as a way to suggest some great books for anyone with a reader on their holiday list!  Or anyone looking for a great read – at least, a great read in my opinion.  But first, I feel like I must apologize for being almost completely absent from my blog this year.  I am sorry as I created this as both an outlet for me, and a way to suggest good books to friends and family and anyone who comes across the blog. I read a lot of great books this year – I’ve even exceeded my goal already – but while I was doing tons of reading, I wasn’t writing.  So I will attempt over the next 12 days to tell you about my favourite books from this year.  And I will endeavor to be blog much more often in 2020!

Onto the first book, Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot.  This book was on my Christmas book list last year and I remember being so excited to unwrap it on Christmas morning.  You see, I first heard about it from Roxane Gay – if you’ve read any of my posts about her books, you know I am a huge fan.  So when I saw her post about it, I looked it up and knew I needed to read it.  There is even a quote from her on the front cover:

“What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined” – Roxane Gay

For me, that was so true about this memoir.  It was deep and beautiful and there were passages that felt like they took my breath away.  There were times I put the book down because while it was so beautiful, it was also at times heartbreaking to read and it brought tears to my eyes.  Mailhot grew up on the Seabird Island Indian Reserve in British Columbia and Heart Berries is her story of her life and her story of finding herself.  It’s a memoir but I never once questioned any of it; I don’t think I had the time as I was so engrossed in her story.  I will definitely visit it again.

A beautiful memoir can make for a lovely gift and I’d encourage you to consider Heart Berries for someone on your list. Beyond my recommendation (and Roxane Gay’s), Heart Berries was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards (Canada Council for the Arts) and a finalist for the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction in addition to winning the Blue Metropolis First Peoples Price, the Spalding Prize for the Promotions of Peach and Justice in Literature and the 2019 Whiting Award for Nonfiction.  Worth looking into and definitely worth reading.


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