Sherman Alexie digs deeply in this heartbreaking memoir about his mother. Using both poetry and prose, he lays bare his complicated feelings about his mother's life and death. Retelling stories that are both harrowing and hilarious, Alexie picks apart the tangled knot that is his relationship with his mother, trying to understand it. It's not often that men in this culture are allowed to show — much less dissect — their emotions, but Alexie is in fine form, leaving no question unasked, no cruelty unexposed, and no pain hidden. His exploration of grief is a thing of beauty, and a trip I felt grateful to take with him. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
As darkly humorous as it is moving, as much about grief over loss of culture and community as it is about grief over the loss of a parent, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me is a searing confessional and eulogy all in one, that for all of Alexie's openness about the memoir genre's inherent dishonesty feels like the most honest memoir — indeed one of the most honest books — I've ever read. Recommended By Helena F.W., Powells.com
To preface, I am an unabashed Sherman Alexie fan. His work — featuring Natives who are caught defining their identity in a modern, white world — is so deeply personal to me. Like Alexie, my father was a Rez Indian turned Urban Indian estranged from his mother. I say this because it’s important to understand that Sherman Alexie’s life and heartbreaking stories are not atypical of Native life.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is a deeply raw memoir of Alexie’s complicated relationship with his mother — a woman he both revered and had disdain for, a woman he felt both pride and shame for. In his signature style, Alexie delivers stories of immeasurable pain cut with hilarious candor conveyed in both essays and poems. He shows us that we can learn just as much about ourselves as those we grieve for. Recommended By Kate L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
One of the most anticipated books of 2017 — Entertainment Weekly and Bustle
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.
"Alexie is a consummate, unnerving and funny storyteller...pouring himself into every molten word. Courageous, anguished, grateful, and hilarious, this is an enlightening and resounding eulogy and self-portrait...all will be reaching for this confiding and concussive memoir."
Booklist (Starred Review)
"[A] poignant, conflicted, raucous memoir of a Native American family...a fine homage to the vexed process of growing up that vividly conveys how family roots continue to bind even after they seem to have been severed."
"Written in his familiar breezy, conversational, and aphoristic style, the book makes even the darkest personal experiences uplifting and bearable with the author's wit, sarcasm, and humor... a powerful, brutally honest memoir about a mother and the son who loved her."
About the Author
A National Book Award-winning author, poet, and filmmaker, Sherman has been named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists and has been lauded by The Boston Globe as "an important voice in American literature." He is one of the most well known and beloved literary writers of his generation, with works such as The Long Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and Reservation Blues and has received numerous awards and citations, including the PEN/Malamud Award for Fiction and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award.