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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (30-minute Excerpt)

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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (30-minute Excerpt)

By Sherman Alexie
Narrated by Sherman Alexie / 29 minutes

This is a 30-minute excerpt. Get the full audiobook of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.

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

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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“Evident throughout are humor and rage, respect and loving irreverence.”

Oprah Magazine

About the Author

Sherman Alexie is the author of, most recently, Blasphemy, stories, from Grove Press, and Face, poetry, from Hanging Loose Press. He is the winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award, the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the 2001 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, and a Special Citation for the 1994 PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction. Smoke Signals, the film he wrote and coproduced, won both the Audience Award and the Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Alexie lives with his family in Seattle.


“I am mesmerized by this book that is painful as they come yet has me hooked. [...] I cannot put it down as his raw honesty and quirky style has gripped me in some kind of way that is hard to describe. [W]hen I do things like drive to work or make dinner I keep thinking about it.”

Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield's Books

“To say that I was moved by Sherman Alexie's memoir is a terrible understatement; in fact, there is a pulse in this book that has worked its way into my being and irrevocably changed how I think about my own life. Alexie's kaleidoscopic approach to storytelling is so representative of the feeling of being human, with childhood memory, relationships, love, trauma, and art all moving in and out of focus at once. At the center of YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME is a deep grieving, for Alexie's mother, for the ways in which parental love is imperfect, for unthinkable personal and cultural traumas. But Alexie's brilliance is in holding multiple truths, that one can experience simultaneously both trauma and hope, grief and humor, violence and love. I, like Alexie, "tend to fall in love with the unnamable," that nebulous complexity at the heart of the human experience that can only be understood by holding on to all of the pieces of your life at once, a practice both beautiful and terrifying. Alexie achieves this exquisitely, and YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME is an unforgettable work.”

Kelsey O'Rourke, Literati Bookstore (Ann Arbor, MI)

“[A] poignant, conflicted, raucous memoir of a Native American family...a fine homage to the vexed process of growing up that vividly conveys how family roots continue to bind even after they seem to have been severed.”

Publishers Weekly

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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. There are family mysteries I cannot solve. There are family mysteries I am unwilling to solve. If Heaven ain't filled with gender-swapping Indians," I said, "then I don't want to go there. This is who I am. This is who I have always been. I am in pain. I am always in pain. But I always find my way to the story. And I always find my way home.

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