Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Alexie is a consummate, unnerving, and funny storyteller, no matter what form his tales take. From his 13 poetry collections, including What I've Stolen, What I've Earned (2014), to his many works of fiction, among them the children's book, Thunder Boy Jr. (2016), and Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories (2012), Alexie's writings are veined with autobiography and Native American life and history. He now presents his first all-out memoir, a profoundly candid union of prose and poetry catalyzed by the recent death of his Spokane Indian mother, Lillian, one of the last to speak their tribal language, a legendary quilter, and a fighter to the end. Alexie's deeply delving remembrance expresses a snarl of conflicting emotions, ranging from anger to awe, and reveals many tragic dangers and traumas of reservation life, from the uranium dust generated by nearby mines, which caused Lillian's lung cancer, to the malignant legacy of genocide: identity crises, poverty, alcoholism, and violence, especially rape, in which the epically wounded . . . turned their rage on each other. Alexie chronicles his own suffering as a boy born hydrocephalic and an adult diagnosed as bipolar, and tracks his flight from the rez and his life as a writer, pouring himself into every molten word. Courageous, anguished, grateful, and hilarious, this is an enlightening and resounding eulogy and self-portrait. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling and critically acclaimed Alexie attracts diverse and avid readers, and all will be reaching for this confiding and concussive memoir.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2017 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Intense but unspoken feeling suffuses the bittersweet relationship between a mother and her son in this poignant, conflicted, raucous memoir of a Native American family. Novelist and poet Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) remembers his complicated mother, Lillian, who kept the family together despite dire poverty on the Spokane Reservation but had a contentious relationship with her son featuring bitter fights and years-long silent treatments. He sets their story against a rich account of their close-knit but floridly dysfunctional family and a reservation community rife with joblessness, alcoholism and drug abuse, fatal car crashes, violence, rape and child molestation, murder, and a general sense of being excluded from and besieged by white society. Alexie treats this sometimes bleak material with a graceful touch, never shying away from deep emotions but also sharing wry humor and a warm regard for Native culture and spirituality. The text is rambling, digressive, and sometimes baggy, with dozens of his poems sprinkled in; it wanders among limpid, conversational prose, bawdy comic turns, and lyrical, incantatory verse. This is 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. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
With his uniquely sing-songy cadence, almost-chuckles, and uncontainable tears, Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) gives a raw, superb performance. No one else could have narrated the stories of his difficult youth, his life-saving education, his struggles between familial obligations and leaving the Spokane Indian Reservation, the losses he faced and the gains he made to become "one of the Indians with the most social power," both lauded and criticized. His mother's 2015 death prompted Alexie to examine their complicated relationship. He bares his "spectacular show of hypocrisy," admitting he "spent [his] literary career writing loving odes to my drunken and unreliable father" while bypassing his "dependable...industrious" mother. Through poems, -vignettes, memories (some his, some belonging to others), Alexie delivers a book both "healing and wounding." Alexie's -latest will resonate with substantial audiences. VERDICT As the author abruptly paused his extensive book tour to "do most of [his] grieving in private," libraries will want to be even more prepared to meet demand in multiple formats. ["Alexie's portrayals of family relationships, identity, and grief have the universality of great literature": LJ 4/15/17 starred review of the Little, Brown hc.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, -Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The story of the popular Native American author's difficult upbringing.Alexie (Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories, 2012, etc.) won the National Book Award for his semiautobiographical young-adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007). Readers of that book will recognize some of those stories in this hardscrabble memoir about growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. In 142 chapters that combine poetry and prose, he goes back and forth in time as he riffs on his early years and his often verbally cruel and emotionally unpredictable mother and the conflicted relationship they had. In the early 1970s, Alexie's parents and six children moved into a one-bedroom reservation house that lacked indoor plumbing or electricity. Later they moved to a "shoddily constructed" HUD house. Both parents were alcoholics; his mother quit drinking a few years later. Born hydrocephalic, Alexie had brain surgery at 5 months and again when he was 2. He suffered epileptic seizures until he was 7. Four soft burr holes in his skull remain, as well as a "Frankenstein mess of head scars." He had "epically crooked teeth" and would "stutter and lisp." He was constantly ridiculed. Always poor, his mother quilted to make money. His father did odd jobs, spent time in jail, and had numerous car accidents when drunk. When Alexie was 17, his father disappeared on a drinking binge. After seven days, he had to go look for him: "It was a family rule." On the reservation, "violence is a clock, / ordinary and relentless. Even stopped, it doesn't stop." Alexie is related to "men who hit women, and to men and women who hit children." Written in his familiar breezy, conversational, and aphoristic style, the book makes even the darkest personal experiences uplifting and bearable with the author's wit, sarcasm, and humor. Despite some repetition, this is a powerful, brutally honest memoir about a mother and the son who loved her. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.