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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
Cover of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
A Memoir

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


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

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction, a PEN/Hemingway Citation for Best First Fiction, and the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, Sherman Alexie is a poet, short story writer, novelist and performer. A Spokane/Couer d'Alene Indian, Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Alexie has been an urban Indian since 1994 and lives in Seattle with his family.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 3, 2017
    Intense but unspoken feeling suffuses the bittersweet relationship between a mother and her son in this poignant, conflicted, raucous memoir of a Native American family. Novelist and poet Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) remembers his complicated mother, Lillian, who kept the family together despite dire poverty on the Spokane Reservation but had a contentious relationship with her son featuring bitter fights and years-long silent treatments. He sets their story against a rich account of their close-knit but floridly dysfunctional family and a reservation community rife with joblessness, alcoholism and drug abuse, fatal car crashes, violence, rape and child molestation, murder, and a general sense of being excluded from and besieged by white society. Alexie treats this sometimes bleak material with a graceful touch, never shying away from deep emotions but also sharing wry humor and a warm regard for Native culture and spirituality. The text is rambling, digressive, and sometimes baggy, with dozens of his poems sprinkled in; it wanders among limpid, conversational prose, bawdy comic turns, and lyrical, incantatory verse. This is 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.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2017
    Honored for his punch-in-the-gut writing with PEN awards and a National Book Award medal for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie coped with his mother's death at age 78 by writing a raw memoir comprising 78 poems and 78 essays. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Praise for YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME: Praise for YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME:
  • Kirkus Reviews 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.
  • Booklist (Starred Review) 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.
  • Publishers Weekly [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.
  • Bookseller Praise for YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME: Bookseller Praise for YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME:
  • Laurie Greer, Politics & Prose (Washington, D.C.) 'How does one deliver an honest eulogy?' Alexie asks. And 'how does one commemorate/ the ordinary?' The answer is to remember, confess, pray, rant, and ask more questions. Alexie does all these and more in this powerful, poignant memoir of his mother, a woman so complex she's an entire tribe of contradictions. Did she love him? Did he love her? He answers yes, but worries the questions through stories by turns angry, funny, and raw, and through a dazzling range of poems that include everything from ballads to rhymed couplets to a tour de force sequence of 52 haiku, each as perfect as the squares in the quilts his mother sewed to support the family. While his father steadily drank himself to death, Alexie's mother was a recovering alcoholic who kept her family alive, if often hungry, in an unfinished HUD house on the Spokane Indian Reservation. She was honored by her tribe for her strength and generosity, yet she was often cruel to her children. With this jarring inconsistency at the heart of his brave, compassionate, book, Alexie traces a lineage of violence so powerful it causes victims to become perpetrators.
  • Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield's Books (Sebastopol, CA) I am mesmerized by this book that is painful as they come yet has me hooked. [...] I cannot put it down as his raw honesty and quirky style has gripped me in some kind of way that is hard to describe. [W]hen I do things like drive to work or make dinner I keep thinking about it...
  • tend to fall in love with the unnamable, To say that I was moved by Sherman Alexie's memoir is a terrible understatement; in fact, there is a pulse in this book that has worked its way into my being and irrevocably changed how I think about my own life. Alexie's kaleidoscopic approach to storytelling is so representative of the feeling of being human, with childhood memory, relationships, love, trauma, and art all moving in and out of focus at once. At the center of YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME is a deep grieving, for Alexie's mother, for the ways in which parental love is imperfect, for unthinkable personal and cultural traumas. But Alexie's brilliance is in holding multiple truths, that one can experience simultaneously both trauma and hope, grief and humor, violence and love. I, like Alexie,
  • - The Nation His talent is immense and genuine.... Sherman Alexie is one of the best writers we have.
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A Memoir
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