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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir…
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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir

by Sherman Alexie

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You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is an extended elegy for Lillian Alexie, mother of Sherman Alexie, award-winning Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-American author and filmmaker. Simultaneously cruel and kind, truth-teller and liar, selfish and selfless, Lillian Alexie helped form the man her son came to be, both by nurturing him and by driving him into the world away from her.

Full review: http://lisaannreads.wpengine.com/review-you-dont-have-to-say-you-love-me/ ( )
  ImLisaAnn | Oct 4, 2017 |
This memoir runs the gamut of every emotion. Even though it is a mixture of poetry and prose, the entire volume is very poetic. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Sep 23, 2017 |
An interesting, hybrid sort of a book. The focus is often on Alexie's relationship with his mother, but also often enough not about his relationship with his mother that I'd have trouble calling that the subject of the book. It's a memoir, but it's also rather blatant about not just reconstructing conversations and conflating events and people, but outright having people say in conversation "We never actually had this conversation." It repeats long passages verbatim leading into different versions of the same events, and while it's effective I'm not so certain that it isn't also a bit irritating. It's certainly an illustration of what a master Alexie is of storytelling, whatever else it is, and it's worth reading.
  Unreachableshelf | Aug 28, 2017 |
In Sherman Alexie’s memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, he talks openly about many things: his health – he was born hydrocephalic and suffered a brain tumor in adulthood; his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness – he is bipolar; his life growing up on a Reservation – the poverty, the abuse both sexual and physical, as well as substance abuse, the bullying, and about how so many of his childhood friends and, yes, bullies died young; his decision to attend school off the reserve where he was the only Native kid and how it affected the rest of his life; his father, a binge drinker whom he loved unconditionally; his sisters, his wife, his writing, and his success as a writer.

But most of all, he tries to come to terms with the complicated relationship between him and his mother, Lillian, after her death. Lillian was a very complicated woman. She was, like her son, bipolar and was, in Alexie’s words, ‘salmon-cold and pathologically lied’. But she was also willing to make sacrifices for her children – an alcoholic, she gave up drinking when she saw the effect it was having on them and she supported Sherman’s decision about schooling against his father’s objections. But when he is beaten up by a bigger white boy on the reserve, she refuses to do anything. He describes in a poem how he felt safe with her 'almost half the time'.

Mom protected me from cruelty

Three days a week


She may have been the result of rape as well as the victim of it herself. But, as Alexie points out repeatedly she is a compulsive liar or perhaps, more kindly, like him, she is a storyteller and she has told a different version of her life to her daughters than to Sherman. He does, however, choose to believe the one she told him. But she supported the family for years with her quilting and was also one of the last true native speakers of the Salish language - she chose not to teach it to her kids and he realizes the depth of what is lost after her death.

Alexie’s relationship with his mother often broke down and they frequently stopped talking for long periods of time. He has little good to say about her and yet, despite this or perhaps because of it, his deep and profound grief at her death is present on every page. It is clear that he realizes that they were more alike than different and he misses even all the bad things about her.

Throughout the book, he switches between poetry and prose even occasionally moving from one to the other in the same paragraph. You Don’t Have to Say You Love me is a beautiful, profound, and profoundly moving story about being Native American, about being a writer but most of all about grief and the complicated love/hate relationship between him and his mother.

Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review ( )
  lostinalibrary | Aug 10, 2017 |
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For Arnold, Kim, Arlene, and James
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In 1972 or 1973, or maybe in 1974, my mother and father hosted a dangerous New Year’s Eve party at our home in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031639677X, Hardcover)


One of the most anticipated books of 2017--Entertainment Weekly and Bustle

A searing, deeply moving memoir about family, love, and loss from the critically acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award winner.


When his mother passed away at the age of 78, Sherman Alexie responded the only way he knew how: he wrote. The result is this stunning memoir. Featuring 78 poems, 78 essays and intimate family photographs, Alexie shares raw, angry, funny, profane, tender memories of a childhood few can imagine--growing up dirt-poor on an Indian reservation, one of four children raised by alcoholic parents. Throughout, a portrait emerges of his mother as a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated woman. YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME is a powerful account of a complicated relationship, an unflinching and unforgettable remembrance.


(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 04 Feb 2017 03:31:31 -0500)

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