You Don't Have To Say You Love Me

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir - Sherman Alexie

This memoir surprised me. I was surprised how open, honest and free Sherman was in this novel. I am not one who follows celebrities, reads celebrity magazines to be in- the-know or digs into their past so I know all the juicy gossip so when Sherman starts to talk about his personal life in this memoir, I was amazed to know that his life was less than ideal. I appreciated his openness and his wiliness to share his life with his readers.

 

He talks a lot about his mother, hence the title and the picture on the cover, inside this novel as she was a unique individual. She was an alcoholic just like his father, only she quit drinking before her death. She knew the ways, the customs, and the stories from the old world, she was their connection to the past and now that she has passed away, their connection is lost. A connection, that they can never replace. At the funeral, Sherman comes to the realization that there were two sides to his mother and this awareness adds flames to the fire that is burning in Sherman over his mother. He has lost her, lost more than he originally thought. He has chosen to live off the rev all these years and that is something that he cannot take back. Again, it is the emotions, the anger, the love and the confusion that runs through these pages that allows me to see his family and how they dealt with life. Sherman’s phrasing repeated over and over again, his “sometimes you just don’t know” comments repeated throughout the novel because in reality, you just don’t know and it’s okay to admit it. I enjoyed how his family size grew as they helped out each other and how their relatives knew they could count on each other in times of need.

 

I found the following parts of the novel especially heartfelt: When Sherman talks about racism, I could feel his pain in his writing. As Sherman mentions the nurses when he was sick, I especially enjoyed this because sometimes we forget these important people in our lives. I cannot forget the waltz his mother did with his sister. Tears were forming in my eyes as I read this short chapter. After accidently spilling water on her as she was getting a drink, his sister stood their morphine-drugged mother up to change her clothing and sheets. As the sister instructed her where to step and how many steps, mother swayed. ““It’s okay,” our mother said. “I’m dancing on purpose. I want to dance. Dance with me.” It was three in the morning but our mother was awake and she shuffled left and right. “Oh,” our mother said. “We are dancing. It’s been so long since I danced. And I don’t know why nobody asked me. I was a good dancer.” My sister laughed. She was alone in the night with our mother. There was no music. But my sister held our mother closely and shuffled with her. They moved in the smallest of circles. “We only danced for a few seconds,” my sister later said. “But, all the next day, whenever she was awake and had visitors, Mom kept bragging that she’d danced until sunrise.”” I loved this.

 

The memoir consists of short chapters of poems and narratives. It is a big book, a book that I really enjoyed. Thanks again Sherman, thanks for being one of us.