The Echoes

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Sherman Alexie does it again

"True Diary" author tells difficult truths in memoir release

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Sherman Alexie is known for his sarcastic, dry wit that pokes fun of himself and everyone around him.

Students at SHS are familiar with Alexie. His best-selling young-adult book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, touched the hearts, and the funny bones of millions.

All ninth grade students read the novel in their English class. Because of his style and passion for writing, it is impossible to not feel some sort of connection to his work.

Recently, Alexie released his memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.

Alexie himself said he had been avoiding writing a memoir because he likes to procrastinate all of his works.

Following the death of his mother, Lillian, in 2015, he felt as though his ‘ghosts’ were urging him to tell his story.

His heartfelt, humorous, and downright gut-wrenching memoir takes an inside look at life on the reservation and his estranged relationships with family members.

Through a collection of poems, song lyrics, powwow chants, and monologues, Alexie takes the reader on the intense journey that is his life.

Reservation life is a hard, inescapable rut that negatively influences nearly every individual living there. The pain and suffering of impoverished reservation families is a pain Alexie is far too familiar with.

Who but Alexie could slap the hard truth of reservation life in the face of the American people?

Alexie describes the hardships his family and fellow Indians faced in a way that somehow lessens the pain for the benefit of himself and the reader.

Being Native American is a huge part of Alexie’s identity. His life was further complicated by childhood hydrocephalus (commonly referred to as water on the brain) and mental illness (bipolar disorder) which influenced his life just as much.

Even though he says he lacks confidence in many ways, he likes to describe himself as self-absorbed, as ironic as that sounds.

Sherman Alexie describes every aspect of his life and gives the reader an in-depth look at his troubling past, the ghosts that continue to haunt him and his bipolar disorder.

His writing style often changes between serious and humorous and provides a different look at mental illness issues.

The memoir has no particular order. It starts near a beginning, but not the beginning in a typical sense.

He first describes the time his family moved out of their dilapidated reservation home and reflects on the shenanigans that took place there.

He continues his story by describing how he was affected by his surroundings and why it shaped who he is today.

Alexie said himself that he is a storyteller, and though some events in his book sound too awful to be true, he convinces the reader that everything is hard truth.

After reading the book, a connection to Alexie is unavoidable. His words and his story are inspiring.

Even as Native Americans today struggle with the realities of reservation life, Alexie brilliantly weaves together social issues and personal narrative.

By the final pages he has once again captivated his readers and reshaped their perspectives on one of this country’s most shameful legacies.

It is definitely, a book worth reading.

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The student news site of Scottsbluff High School
Sherman Alexie does it again