You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

A Memoir

Book - 2017 | First edition.
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The Instant New York Times Bestseller
Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

A searing, deeply moving memoir about family, love, loss, and forgiveness from the critically acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award-winning author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian .

Family relationships are never simple. But Sherman Alexie's bond with his mother Lillian was more complex than most. She plunged her family into chaos with a drinking habit, but shed her addiction when it was on the brink of costing her everything. She survived a violent past, but created an elaborate facade to hide the truth. She selflessly cared for strangers, but was often incapable of showering her children with the affection that they so desperately craved. She wanted a better life for her son, but it was only by leaving her behind that he could hope to achieve it. It's these contradictions that made Lillian Alexie a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated, and very human woman.

When she passed away, the incongruities that defined his mother shook Sherman and his remembrance of her. Grappling with the haunting ghosts of the past in the wake of loss, he responded the only way he knew how: he wrote. The result is a stunning memoir filled with raw, angry, funny, profane, tender memories of a childhood few can imagine, much less survive. An unflinching and unforgettable remembrance, YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME is a powerful, deeply felt account of a complicated relationship. One of the most anticipated books of 2017-- Entertainment Weekly and Bustle

Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780316270755
Characteristics: 457 pages


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Feb 08, 2018

Written following the death of his mother in 2015, well-known writer Sherman Alexie opens up in this memoir about their difficult and fraught relationship, family secrets, his miserable childhood growing up on the Spokane reservation, and the inner demons with which he continues to wrestle as an adult. Though thought-provoking and eye-opening, this is also a painful and often distressing read. Catch his September 2017 interview on MPR for additional fascinating insights.

Jan 21, 2018

I've read a couple of Alexie's novels and enjoyed them, and a few years ago heard him speak and enjoyed that even more. This memoir jarred me, in a positive sense. How could someone who suffered as he has come out the way he has? How could someone who hated his mother (for very good reasons) grieve her death so much? I've read a great deal about the history of Native Americans, and thought I new a lot. This book taught me more than everything else put together. Alexie lets it all hang out, and even though he describes himself, probably honestly, as a liar, he's a vulnerable liar, and I had to respect him. I'll be reading everything else of his that I can get my hands on.

Jan 02, 2018

The collective experience that Sherman Alexie shares about his life and those of his extended family in the Salish tribe is soaked in sorrow and justifiable outrage, even when you consider the author’s frequent and almost proud declaration of being an exaggerator and a liar. Unfortunately, his telling of the tales is a disjointed mess, jumping around from story to unrelated story sprinkled in between pages and pages of distracting narrative poetry. About midway through, Alexie shares a conversation with a relative who has read an earlier draft of the work, where he admits that the book is told like a patchwork quilt, a nod to his mother who created so many of them during her troubled, angry life. Considering the complicated, conflicted relationship that emerges between Alexie and his mother, perhaps this was the way he felt he had to tell it, in order for him to keep a distance from his own intense feelings. I found the format distracting and somewhat off-putting, keeping the reader at arms-length from the sad and often startling tales being told and preventing any real empathy to take hold. I finally gave up on it as I just couldn’t feel any connection, as much as I wanted to. It’s a shame that he chose this format, because told as a straight narrative this would have been an extremely powerful, moving story. Perhaps your experience will be different but I can’t really recommend it.

Dec 29, 2017

No amount of joking, storytelling or using dirty words changes the fact that your mother has died.

Dec 26, 2017

I found the prose passages to be even more poetic than his great poems...
I would read Ikea instructions, if written by this man!

vm510 Nov 30, 2017

Sherman Alexie's voice is so important and his style is so unique. I love his blending of humor, anger, resentment, and sadness. His work is bittersweet, devastating, and lighthearted all at once. I went from laughing one chapter to feeling my heart break the next. This book is sentimental. It also feels genre-bending because there is poetry interspersed. I think it is a wonderful addition to the memoir genre.

Oct 30, 2017

Wonderful. Moving. He has a true gift.

Oct 11, 2017

What do you do when your childhood is a mix of violence and fear and occasional moments of joy and humor, and you are a very talented writer of renown? Well, in his case, Sherman Alexie sat down and wrote this incredibly beautiful, often sorrowful, but also uplifting book. He has produced an incredible mix of prose and poetry (and I'm not always a fan of poetry, since often it leaves me impatiently trying to decipher it, but Alexie's is clear and precise) as a stunningly complex tribute to not only his mother, his father and siblings, but also to everyone who manages to survive a brutal childhood and a complicated adulthood and comes through it all intact both physically and emotionally. I give this book all the stars!

Sep 30, 2017

Having heard of Sherman Alexie for several years, I decided I should widen my world by reading his latest book. It was a view into the author's world told in snips and pieces, somewhat like his mother's quilts, as he describes it. I found myself being viewed from his perspective, which was uncomfortable and caused me to react in a defensive manner, as I considered having made remarks similar to a few people in the book, with no evil intentions; but which were regarded as hurtful by him. After reading the background of his life, I can see how he would feel that way. It left me wondering how I could interact with someone holding that much hurt and anger as a result of his life experiences; and how I could find common ground with people around me, who may have had such a life of pain, as a result of treatment by privileged people such as myself. I will need time to mull that over.

Sep 24, 2017

This is a courageous, open, and fierce memoir. I just finished it and may need a few days to think about what he taught me about grief by just honestly sharing his.

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ArapahoeMaryA Jan 17, 2018

We, the bipolar mother and her bipolar son, fought so often that all of the arguments blended into a terrifying yet predictable ride. My mother and I were roller-coasters on parallel tracks.

In 2015, as my mother lay dying of cancer in her reservation home, she asked my sisters and I to tell only her most trusted friends and relatives...My mother was a spy who treated her own death like a top secret-mission. Or maybe she was like a mad queen who believed only a few of her most loyal subjects deserved to know about her cancer. Or maybe she was terrified.
At her wake and funeral, … I'd wanted to say something epic and honest. But epics are rarely honest, and honesty should never be epic.

But as her son and as perhaps her most regular opponent, I remember only a little bit of my mother's kindness and almost everything about her coldness.

Sep 23, 2017

"There are family mysteries I cannot solve. There are family mysteries I am unwilling to solve."

Sep 23, 2017

Ah, friend, this world-this one universe-
Is already too expansive for me.
When I die, let my mourners know
That I shrugged at the possibility
Of other universes. Hire a choir-
Let them tell the truth
But tell it choral-
Let the assembled voices sing
About my theology:
I'm the fragile and finite mortal
Who wanted no part of immortality.

Sep 23, 2017

Thing is, I don't believe in ghosts. But I see them all the time.

Sep 23, 2017

My mother was a lifeguard on the shores of Lake F*cked.

Sep 23, 2017

But a person can be genocided-can have every connection to his past severed- and live to be an old man whose rib cage is a haunted house built around his heart.

Sep 23, 2017

Self preservation was my religion.

Sep 23, 2017

Poverty was our spirit animal.

Sep 23, 2017

I often wonder why I am the one who remember all the pain?

Sep 23, 2017

In the indigenous world, we assign sacred value to circles. But sometimes a circle just means you keep returning to the same shit again and again. This book is a series of circles, sacred and profane.

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