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Publisher's Summary

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

A searing, deeply moving memoir about family, love, and loss from a critically acclaimed, best-selling 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 and 78 essays, 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.

©2017 Sherman Alexie (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Sherman Alexie narrates his powerful memoir with acute emotion and vulnerability.... Alexie's narration is extremely personal. He will make you cry, yes, and then make you laugh hard enough to wake your sleeping children; be warned." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

True connection

This was the best book I have ever listened to. The author's stories about his life and his growth over time helped me to better understand myself. He shared himself. He shared life on the Rez. He did it with real emotion.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Painful Gift

You don't hear people talk much about their complicated and painful relationships with their mothers, but you especially don't hear it much in Native circles. Mr. Alexie, you've given visibility and a social permission to feel the pain and isolation of being the son or daughter of a complicated mother. Thank you for sharing your gifts, stories, and pain. This was beautiful, hilarious, heartbreaking, and resilient. Anyone who has a mother can learn from and love this book.

29 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Sherman Alexie dances with words.

If you could sum up You Don't Have to Say You Love Me in three words, what would they be?

Honor our elders.

What was one of the most memorable moments of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me?

The impact of the metaphor of Mr. Alexie nakedly owning the acne scars of his back and revealing them openly to his wife and embracing them brought home the power of healing relationships and acceptance.

What about Sherman Alexie’s performance did you like?

Mr. Alexie's repetition of his stories and phrases within the stories created both the image of repetative patterns as in his mother's quilts and musical refrains.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The story of Mr. Alexie's conscious decision not to be present at his mother's death flooded me with memories of my own mother's death a little more than two months after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm and suffering almost every possible post operative medical complication. I, too, was not present at my mother's death. To quote Jennifer James, a Seattle talk show psychologist, "I did the best I could with what I had at the time." as did Mr. Alexie. Unlike Mr. Alexie, I persued medicine as a career so his stories of his own medical condition and the conditions of his family resonate. Mr. Alexie shares both his triumphs and his pain with grace and dignity.

Any additional comments?

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." ~Marie Curie Lillian Alexie was right. Her son's gift is story telling, in English, and he has found his voice.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Riveting

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! It made me revisit my own difficulties with my hyper-religious mother with whom I never had a close relationship while she lived.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Lillian was certainly a favorite character because living on the Navajo reservation for 8 months one year I saw how phenomenal the women were and how they held up their families and culture.

Have you listened to any of Sherman Alexie’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, his inflection when he spoke "Indian" was wonderful to hear.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Lillian, a real Super Woman.

Any additional comments?

Mr. Alexie, Thank you for this book. It's stirred up a host of issues for me. It was difficult to hear because of my own guilt about how I often showed my own mother such little respect for her choices. I'm slowly understanding why she did what she did now that she's long gone.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Voice for this Time

In this polarized time, Sherman Alexie has expressed the experience of feeling judged and the pain of racism brilliantly without rancor and still hitting the mark with every thought. He expresses grief at so many levels. His grief is a metaphor for my grief for our country! This is a powerful must read for everyone - I wish it could be a high school requirement but, as pointed out by the author/narrator, his work is considered inappropriate. In fact, it is what our country needs right now, regardless of your political view. Tender, sensitive and raw.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • mary
  • Ophir, OR, United States
  • 08-05-17

Best memoir ever! Wish I could give it 8 stars!

Sherman Alexie is funny, real, emotional, honest, and beautiful. I frequently am disappointed with writers as readers. Not this one! I love his native-American cadence. When his voice breaks as he speaks of intense events with his mother, I cried. I loved this book so much that as soon as I finished it, I missed him so much that I immediately listened to it again.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Unremitting Negativity

I listened to the first three of the twelve total hours and had to stop. Those hours included a description of animal torture, an extensive scatological section that was completely gratuitous, and comparing how the Native American children were treated at school to the tortures at Guantanomo (sp?) Bay with a description of the tortures at Guantanomo Bay.
It was interesting and long overdue that a Native American's voice is heard on a large scale - to learn that on the reservations some traditional culture survives. Alexie's point of the extreme violence and degradation of the contemporary culture is clearly made. It is horrific and unjust. The book is also well written and has poetic moments but I could not take the detailed relentless negativity. Perhaps as the book progresses it gets better. I just could not bear to find out. Also Alexie reads it well - sometimes as a poet would read his work and the sing song lilt of the Native American speech is charming to hear.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Anna
  • Genoa, IL, United States
  • 07-27-17

Everyone should listen!

Everyone should read this, but really everyone should listen to this! Hearing the author narrate his own work with all the intended feeling and emphasis was completely wonderful. I especially loved hearing his poetry in his own voice. I was a big fan of this author before I experienced his memoir, but I think even those who haven't read other works by him will really find value in this experience.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Could have done with about half as much!

I really enjoyed the first four hours...the author' s reading was absolutely magical. Around hour six I was starting to panic when I realized I wasn't even half-way through! I enjoyed the storytelling, his past, his present and the emotional turmoil around his relationship with his mother and her death. I was not quite as interested in his poetry but his reading did help me hear it with a new perspective. But when he says that grief is repetitive....I believe his grief! I stayed the course and finished it because I do enjoy some of his other writing and I appreciate how hard such honesty can be. But I can't tell you how glad I was to be finished!
3.5 stars

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very powerful

I loved this emotional journey. If you are a survivor of any type of trauma or work with trauma survivors or love one, this memoir will speak to you. If you've lost one or both parents with whom you had a love-hate relationship, this book will speak to you. I was very happy that Mr. Alexie read the book and thank him for baring his soul.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful