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.
About the Author
Along with the National Book Award, the novel was a 2008 Horn Book Award Winner for Excellence in Children's Literature, a Booksense Book of the Year Children's Literature Honor Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, and one of the New York Times Notable Children's Books of 2007. Alexie has also written eleven books of poetry, three story collections, and three novels for adults: Reservation Blues, Indian Killer, and Flight.
Praise for YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME:
"With brazen honesty and humor throughout, Alexie writes about the many facets of his mother and her addiction's effect on his family and childhood."
—Jarry Lee, BuzzFeed, "22 Exciting New Books You Need to Read This Summer"
"Resonant and occasionally gut-wrenching."
"Evident throughout are humor and rage, respect and loving irreverence."
"The overwhelming takeaway from Mr. Alexie's memoir is triumph, that of one writer's ability to overcome hardscrabble roots, medical bad luck and generations of systemic racism--all through an uncommon command of language and metaphor."
—James Yeh, New York Times
"You Don't Have to Say You Love Me is a marvel of emotional transparency."
—Beth Kephart, The Chicago Tribune
"These pages are scored by resentment, hurt, guilt, anger, fear, but they are also full of gratitude, admiration, and tenderness."
—Priscilla Gilman, The Boston Globe
"Alexie is so aware of his own fallible memory and his own imperfections that this one won't make you bristle...It's readable, unpretentious, funny and deeply compassionate."
—Erin Kodicek, Amazon's Omnivoracious Blog
"He's compulsively readable, a literary writer with the guts of a stand-up comedian."
—Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"This is an essay, a memoir, a history, a cry from the heart, a challenge to other Indians and a baring of his soul."
—Michael Giltz, Huffington Post
"Sardonic, raw and moving...powerful."
—Jane Ciabattari, BBC.com
"Full of compassion and wonder, pain and beauty and is a searing testament to the ways in which our parents and our pasts fully make us who we are as adults."
—Kristin Iversen, Nylon
"Alexie's writing is raw, funny, smart and unapologetic. His use of metaphor expertly crafts a visual to accompany his stories that leave them unforgettable."
—Catherine Rubino, Book Reporter
"Everything you love about Alexie's writing is here: he still manages to find honest human comedy in the darkness of America's genocidal past, and our deeply racist present" and also raves "His personality is large and, as he survives each passing trial, it's only getting larger; from his adoring audience's vantage point, Alexie is now a giant."
—Paul Constant, The Seattle Review of Books
"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."
"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)
Bookseller Praise for YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME:
On Reservation Blues:
"His talent is immense and genuine.... Sherman Alexie is one of the best writers we have."
- The Nation
"Hilarious but poignant...dead-on accurate with regard to modern Indian life."
On Indian Killer:
"A haunting, challenging articulation of the plight and the pride of contemporary Native Americans."
- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Characters in Mr. Alexie's work are not the usual kind of Indians...They are not tragic victims or noble savages...they listen to Jimi Hendrix and Hank Williams; they dream of being basketball stars...And unlike most Indians in fiction, they are sometimes funny."
--The New York Times
On The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian:
"A Native American equivalent of Angela's Ashes."
--- (starred review), Publishers Weekly
"Sure to resonate and lift spirits of all ages for years to come."