You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
A MemoireBook - 2017
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
- › Excerpt
From Library Staff
A memoir that really pulls at your heartstrings. Sherman Alexie talks about his constant struggles between trying to get his mother’s love, as well as trying to push her as far away as possible. He talks about many of the things that have dictated his stories, like growing up on the Spokane reser... Read More »
From the critics
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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.
"There are family mysteries I cannot solve. There are family mysteries I am unwilling to solve."
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.
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.
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