You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir
In You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) captures with unsparing clarity how the harsh reality of his early life both scarred him and shaped his way through the world.
Alexie grew up on an Indian reservation in rural Eastern Washington. Born hydrocephalic, he underwent surgery at five months to relieve pressure on his brain, and experienced the symptoms of bipolar disorder (undiagnosed until 2010) for most of his 50 years. At the heart of Alexie's story is his relationship with his mother, Lillian, who, alone, was an "entire tribe of contradictions." He describes her as an "undiagnosed bipolar grandiose fabulist," and it's fair to conclude that Alexie--who characterizes himself as an unreliable narrator with an excellent memory--inherited at least some of his prodigious storytelling talent from her.
That talent is vivid in a memoir that's blunt, profane at times, but never lacking in insight. Readers looking for a memoir that expertly entwines regret for the damage inflicted by one's heritage with pride in that same culture will find what they need in You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer