kglibrarian 's Reviews > You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
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bookshelves: grief, memoirs, native-american

I have mixed feelings about this memoir. On one hand, it was a moving, powerful account of Alexie’s grief after his mother dies, arranged by patching together essays, poems, and streams of consciousness. On the other hand, it was a long, whiny, self-centered therapy session presented in an overwhelming mix of styles. Alexie discloses that he has bipolar disorder and while the book is an astounding accomplishment considering all he has been dealt in life, the arc of the narrative seems to follow the ebb and flow of his illness. No matter how I decide to judge it, I definitely feel a sense of sadness after reading the stories of Alexie’s life.

I have been raving about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ever since I read it several years ago. After reading this memoir, I realized that the novel is basically a funnier, edited, more organized version of Alexie’s experiences, featuring expertly crafted characters who are likable even when they’re acting in questionable ways. Life on an Indian reservation; problems of alcoholism and rape; bullying; abuse; discrimination. . .these are all issues dealt with beautifully in True Diary. When Alexie recounts his experiences as they happened in real life, however, he is so self-focused that he comes across as caring little for how his writing is affecting the reader (which is OK to an extent but not when it seems to alienate the reader). Having gone through the loss of a parent, I feel the grief around which his musings are centered. But the repetitive nature of both his anecdotes and poems is tiresome after a while.

I have the utmost respect for Alexie, who grew up in extreme poverty, surrounded by dysfunction. He broke out of the pattern most of his fellow reservation dwellers followed, and not only gained a superior education but also was motivated enough to become a successful writer and speaker. The best part of reading Alexie’s memoir is that it opened my eyes to a distinct way of life, along with the history, customs, and stereotypes that go along with it. As with any book, it’s always worth the read to me if it allows me to expand my perspective.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 31, 2019 – Shelved
October 31, 2019 – Shelved as: grief
October 31, 2019 – Shelved as: memoirs
October 31, 2019 – Shelved as: native-american
October 31, 2019 – Finished Reading

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