You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

A Memoir

eBook - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:

The Instant New York Times Bestseller An Amazon editors' Top 20 books of 2017 A Washington Post Best Book of 2017 An LA Times Best Book of 2017 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

Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2017
ISBN: 9780316270762
Characteristics: text file,rda
1 online resource

Related Resources


From Library Staff

A literary biography of the author's mother and their life together on the Spokane Indian Reservation. The book discussion will meet at the Ferndale Library on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 from 2:30pm - 4:30pm.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

vm510 Nov 30, 2017

Sherman Alexie's voice is so important and his style is so unique. I love his blending of humor, anger, resentment, and sadness. His work is bittersweet, devastating, and lighthearted all at once. I went from laughing one chapter to feeling my heart break the next. This book is sentimental. It also feels genre-bending because there is poetry interspersed. I think it is a wonderful addition to the memoir genre.

Oct 30, 2017

Wonderful. Moving. He has a true gift.

Oct 11, 2017

What do you do when your childhood is a mix of violence and fear and occasional moments of joy and humor, and you are a very talented writer of renown? Well, in his case, Sherman Alexie sat down and wrote this incredibly beautiful, often sorrowful, but also uplifting book. He has produced an incredible mix of prose and poetry (and I'm not always a fan of poetry, since often it leaves me impatiently trying to decipher it, but Alexie's is clear and precise) as a stunningly complex tribute to not only his mother, his father and siblings, but also to everyone who manages to survive a brutal childhood and a complicated adulthood and comes through it all intact both physically and emotionally. I give this book all the stars!

Sep 30, 2017

Having heard of Sherman Alexie for several years, I decided I should widen my world by reading his latest book. It was a view into the author's world told in snips and pieces, somewhat like his mother's quilts, as he describes it. I found myself being viewed from his perspective, which was uncomfortable and caused me to react in a defensive manner, as I considered having made remarks similar to a few people in the book, with no evil intentions; but which were regarded as hurtful by him. After reading the background of his life, I can see how he would feel that way. It left me wondering how I could interact with someone holding that much hurt and anger as a result of his life experiences; and how I could find common ground with people around me, who may have had such a life of pain, as a result of treatment by privileged people such as myself. I will need time to mull that over.

Sep 24, 2017

This is a courageous, open, and fierce memoir. I just finished it and may need a few days to think about what he taught me about grief by just honestly sharing his.

Sep 23, 2017

Sherman Alexie has officially been inducted into my Hall of Fame for favorite writers and, shockingly, I’m a part of the few who have yet to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I have never been more inspired, heartbroken, and intrigued from reading a memoir of someone’s life. To be fair I had no notion as to what to expect from Alexie- after all I have never read his work.

Most memoirs will open up from “the beginning of it all” and work its way through the individual’s life, with the big, grand shining moment being the climax, until we close with somber, hopeful words for the future. Alexie’s memoir was a series of multiple, drawn-out, (sometimes) spontaneous climaxes- I felt my emotions being dragged everywhere from laughter and joy to grief and emptiness. I have never heard an author tear up and sob in an audiobook describing their pain. For me that is something that is so raw; rare is it for an author to truly open up to their readers in such a vulnerable state.

Sep 13, 2017

Sherman Alexie has written an unusual memoir filled with grief, humour, bitterness and hope; a sad but also hopeful look at the legacy of a mother's love and the painful process of grieving an imperfect parent.

PimaLib_NormS Sep 13, 2017

I had heard of Sherman Alexie. I knew he was a Native American writer, but I was unfamiliar with his work. Then I heard an interview with him on NPR. He was there to promote his latest book, a memoir, entitled “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”. I thought I would give it a try. Good move on my part. This passionate book is a gripping piece of literature. It was not done in the standard way, by that I mean his story was not told chronologically, as in, this happened which led to that, then this. No, Sherman Alexie was not going to produce just another run of the mill biography. In fact, I don’t know if I should even call his book a biography. It contains mostly short essays and poetry, and it should be read as such. Admittedly at first, I found the poetry a little disruptive. Reading the book did not flow for me. But, I began to realize that I was reading it all wrong. I was trying to read it as one would read prose, one word, one paragraph, one page, flowing into another. I found that enjoying each essay and each poem as a single entity worked much better for me. The overarching focus of Alexie’s essays and poetry is his emotional, complex, sometimes tortured relationship with his mother. After reading the book, it is clear that Lillian Alexie greatly influenced her talented son while she was alive, and she continues to do so after her death.

Sep 08, 2017

A memoir, not just about family and grief, but one of acceptance, release of bitterness, and finally being comfortable in our own skin - no matter the color, no matter the family background, or any other limiting condition.

lindab2662 Sep 08, 2017

What a beautiful, funny, sad, powerful book. I heard Sherman Alexie in an interview on NPR. I was hooked. There is so much here. Racism, family dynamics, life on a reservation, extreme health issues, and so much more. What a rich story.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Sep 23, 2017

"There are family mysteries I cannot solve. There are family mysteries I am unwilling to solve."

Sep 23, 2017

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.

Sep 23, 2017

Thing is, I don't believe in ghosts. But I see them all the time.

Sep 23, 2017

My mother was a lifeguard on the shores of Lake F*cked.

Sep 23, 2017

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.

Sep 23, 2017

Self preservation was my religion.

Sep 23, 2017

Poverty was our spirit animal.

Sep 23, 2017

I often wonder why I am the one who remember all the pain?

Sep 23, 2017

In the indigenous world, we assign sacred value to circles. But sometimes a circle just means you keep returning to the same shit again and again. This book is a series of circles, sacred and profane.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at WCLS

To Top