About My Book Reviews

Saturday, July 17, 2021

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

Title: You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

Author: Sherman Alexie

Published: 2017

Genre: Memoir

Grade Level: Adult

-Trigger Warning: Child sexual abuse, child neglect, grief, and addiction

-Movie Rating: R, language, child sexual abuse, and other adult topics

-Features: Bipolar Disorder



Narrated by: Sherman Alexie

Length: 12hrs 9min

Recommend: No


Blurb (from goodreads):

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.


Disclaimer: My review of this memoir is not in any way a reflection upon the author or their life. I am a book reviewer, I review books… not people.


My Scores:

Writing Style: Flowery

Even though Sherman Alexie is a poet, I didn’t really expect poems to carry so much of the narrative in his memoir. This may not be a problem for readers who are fans of poetry, but since I am not I honestly felt a little cheated. It felt like he used the poetry as filler or as a way to simplify difficult topics or situations.


Characters: Underdeveloped

(I known they're real people. I’m referring to them as character’s anyway.)

After reading Alexie’s children’s book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I expected the characters in his memoir to have at least the same amount of depth and complexity… but again I felt cheated.


Why didn’t Alexie get along with his mother? He’s not sure.

What is it like living day-to-day on a reservation? Not great.

How did he make it on his own after he left the reservation? Just lucky, I guess…


Not real compelling answers…


Plot: No Plot

Maybe Alexie was being vague on purpose… That’s a likely possibility. What person wants the whole world to know your business? I’m just so used to reading memoirs with shockingly detailed information that this novel was just boring.


Overall: Boring

I learned more about Sherman Alexie reading his children’s book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, than I did reading his memoir.


Goodreads Rating: 2 out of 5 stars



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