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

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Sherman Alexie

12 Hours 0 Minutes

Hachette Book Group USA

June 2017

Audio Book Summary

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.

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  • Danielle S

    You haven't read this book until you hear Sherman narrate it himself. His emotions drip from each word and induce crying and laughter, often at once. Through his concrete and descriptive words, he helps to provide more of a tangible experience for the reader. You are there with him as he hides in his room from predators at a party, moves to a scary new school, has brain surgery and of course develops a complex relationship with his mother and his family. If you want to know what it's often like to grow up on a poverty stricken American Indian reservation, read this. If you want a visceral description of structural violence, read this. Every American should read this memoir.

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  • Parisa S

    This is one of those books you have to listen to on tape. With Sherman Alexis narrating, we're taken into the tragedy, the humor, and the perplexities of his life, more than words could portray. He laughs as he recalls old family stories, cries while talking about challenging moments, and even breaks into song during his intermittent poems. A lovely read and one I would highly recommend.

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  • Nadia A.

    Brutal and heavy and uneven in parts. By the end, you'll feel as though you've survived something, too.

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  • Edith k

    After enjoying his short stories, I was very disappointed in this memoir. I realize it came out of his guts, literally, but most of the more honest revelations left me disgusted rather than enlightened. That it was cathartic for him I have no doubt, but as a reader I found it unnecessary. Perhaps he can now move on and I can go back to more of his earlier work.

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