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From the Ashes

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  9,005 ratings  ·  1,085 reviews
In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle—once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar—chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute . . . then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than jus
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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Average rating 4.50  · 
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 ·  9,005 ratings  ·  1,085 reviews

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Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is extremely intense. I have multiple family members who have dealt with many of the things he has dealt with and it was just really hard to read. I literally felt sick to my stomach reading it, found it hard to sleep and felt overall pretty down. It is very heavy. If you or anyone in your family has dealt with addiction then be please be warned, this entire book is basically one big trigger. This honestly may not be the best book for you, although if you make it through, it may provid ...more
Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Jesse Thistle has joined us in our Behind the Pages group for a spoiler-free Q& A

You can find the thread to the Q & A here://

From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle is a 2020 Canada reads finalist battling in Canada's "literary Survivor," for the one book the country should read. The one book to bring focus to Canada. From the Ashes is the first book I read of the 5 finalists chosen this year and I have to s
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
5+ outstanding stars!

Easily earned a spot on my 2020 Favourites List.

Raw. Eye-opening. Informative. Heart wrenching. Impactful.

I am forever changed after reading this. One of the toughest, most honest and powerful memoirs I have read. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jesse Thistle for being brave enough to put his story out in the world. This is heart wrenching, yet hopeful. Upsetting yet inspiring. Heavy yet freeing.

This extremely well written memoir gives the highly uncomfortable tra
Rebecca McNutt
From the Ashes is probably one of the most important modern Canadian books to be published recently, not only because it breaks the stereotypes of Canadian writing (why do people always think that all this country is good for in books is Margaret Atwood?), but also because this book might be an important piece to bridging a very large, complex gap between Canadian settlers and First Nations communities. Jesse Thistle's intergenerational struggle is both inspiring and important, and part of somet ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fearless memoir of one man’s journey to find himself. He’s never afraid to look way below the surface at what drives his behaviour. He writes this with the full knowledge that he can’t rewrite or change the past to emerge where he does in the present. He moves from the enchanting whispers of ecstasy and hashish to the screaming nightmares of crack and meth. His story stands as proof that a raging addict can find a way through. This just might be the lifeline that struggling addicts and their l ...more
MissBecka Gee
While I appreciate Thistle sharing his story with the world, it didn't really work for me.
The narration provided by the author was robotic and added nothing emotionally.
A story with so much heartbreak and tragedy should have been more stirring.
I think in print it would have been.
The monotone narration made everything feel callus and uneventful.
His life was neither of those things.
Do yourself a favour and read this in print instead.
Mikey B.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a gut-wrenching autobiography about a man (Jesse Thistle) who descended into relentless depths. He was addicted to all kinds of drugs and alcohol – anything to get a high and to remove himself from the real world and what he could not face in himself. He was homeless many times. He stole from all kinds of stores to get food, money, alcohol and any commodity to trade for drugs.

He was a prime example of someone surrounding himself by enablers who kept reinforcing his habits. Finally, afte
"If I can just make it to the next minute, then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead."

FROM THE ASHES: MY STORY OF BEING METIS, HOMELESS, AND FINDING MY WAY by Jesse Thistle is a heart-wrenching memoir that reads like a novel. The book cover is beautiful!
This is one of the five books chosen to be debated on CANADA READS 2020. I have two more to read, but FROM THE my favourite of the three I read.
I highly recommend
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From The Ashes, by Jesse Thistle, is a finalist in Canada Reads 2020.
I was deeply moved by this autobiography. He paints an achingly sad and honest picture of a young man lost and self-destructive, compelled by abandonment, abuse and addiction. He shows us that homelessness is very real and that one can return from this cold, lonely, unforgiving world.
His memoir demonstrates the power of love, life and resilience.
Raw, Honest and Emotional!
Jesse Thistle is truly an inspiration!
I feel From The Ash
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bone grinding on wire: that is my morning cup of coffee, that is what wakes me up every day, and that is what reminds me that the fall from my brother's apartment window was real – and that I'm lucky to be alive. The pain also keeps me sober. It reminds me what it was like years ago when addiction and homelessness almost did me in. For that, and those harsh reminders, I am thankful.

When it comes to memoir, redemption stories tend to make me feel good; and especially stories about people hero
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Abandoned to the foster system, taken in by grandparents then thrown out in highschool, Jesse Thistle ends up homeless and addicted on the streets of Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa.

Spoiler - Jesse Thistle is currently an Assistant Professor in Métis Studies at York University in Toronto, a Governor General’s Academic Medal winner, as well as a Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Vanier Scholar. Knowing this, knowing that he makes it out alive, adds some much needed air to this memoir because on the page th
Matthew Quann
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Matthew by: Lisa Bacque
Jesse Thistle's memoir is a readable account of his addiction, redemption, and his search for his indigenous roots. Written in an almost conversational style, From the Ashes details Thistle's life from boyhood to present day with all the bumps along the way. This is a harrowing memoir whose bulk is about life on the streets, living score-to-score, and the crime that buoyed Thistle's prolific substance abuse. Though the subject matter is difficult, it's message is one of hope for those in society ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you should read one book this year, read this.

Jesse is a storyteller, a poet, a Métis scholar, a homelessness expert, and a warrior. His memoir “explores homelessness in a way that would escape them(housing experts)” otherwise. It is a human narrative about the intergenerational trauma of colonization, and the failure of our systems. Above all, it is a story about a man rising from the ashes and being capable of so much.
This is a very moving memoir, in which Jesse Thistle relives his life in short chapters...espousing lessons he’s learned, errors he’s made, milestones he’s achieved, dreams he’s kept, relationships he’s broken and rekindled.

The writing is straight forward and matter of fact. It is interspersed with heartfelt emotions, creative descriptions, ingenious metaphors, heart wrenching anecdotes.

Memoirs are one of my favourite genres to read and this one is riveting in both its storytelling and its messa
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible!

Review to come.
Lisa Nikolits
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read this year. I was fortunate to get an Advance Reader Copy because in my day job, (I'm a magazine designer), sadly more books come in than can be reviewed. But I'd buy this book and I highly recommend it.

From the moment I started it, I couldn't put it down. I read it every moment I could, on the subway and at lunchtime. That's the mark of a good book.

It's unflinching self-reportage of the darkest moments imaginable to a person. And to a child.

It was, at ti
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jesse Thistle's journey in life has been a challenging one. In From The Ashes he writes honestly and unflinchingly about the effects that intergenerational trauma had on him as a child and into his adulthood. And he shares his struggles with substance abuse, homelessness and incarceration. These are difficult, traumatic topics, but his writing is so accessible that he makes you want to stay with his words, to listen to his story.

Of course, this is Jesse's story. But through his storytelling and
It is absolutely remarkable that Jesse Thistle is now a professor at York University, after a rough start to life, dropping out of high school, and spending an extended period of time as a young man mired in homelessness, petty crime, and drug addiction. Merely summarizing it that way still fails to capture how truly terrible his experiences were - his account really made me think about what other people with whom we sometimes only have glancing interactions (or don’t see at all) are dealing wit ...more
Aylan Couchie
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't often rate books on Goodreads but feel compelled to write this one because, one week later, I'm still digesting this read. I finished this book over the course of three days on a recent trip because I couldn't put it down. From The Ashes provides a powerful truth-telling of what far too many Indigenous children and adults endure within the settler state that is Canada. While the book is a heart-wrenching narrative, there were often tear-jerking and uplifting points of light, places along ...more
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
What an incredible story of resilience. Jesse Thistle had such a rough start in life and ignored his indigenous roots through his struggles with addiction and homelessness. It is a remarkable sign of character how he has completely turned his life around and is now an assistant professor and PhD candidate at York University. His wife must also be commended, as Jesse's story is a great example of how everyone needs someone in their corner, invested in their triumphs and failures. I love how Jesse ...more
Jaime Morse
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
By the end of the book, my foot hurt. I had searing pain right to the bone towards the last few pages. I’m always impressed when someone takes the time, energy and effort to write a biography. I’m so proud of Jesse for rescuing his life. For taking up the help around him and for writing a poignant biographical piece about the inner workings of homeless and addiction from a first hand experience. I’m afraid I can relate. I’m glad I can relate. So much to regret. So much to learn from. The person ...more
Elizabeth McFadden
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book I’ve read this year.

This memoir chronicles the life of Jesse Thistle, an indigenous man raised in Brampton,ON. After an early childhood of neglect and abuse, Jesse battles addiction and ends up homeless.

The book is a moving story about the affects of trauma, coming to terms with your heritage and the pain of addiction.

Find this book and read it.
Natasha Penney
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is remarkable. What a wonderful story of triumph over adversity and a reclamation of personal power. It is absolutely inspirational.
I thought this book well written and unputdownable for sure! It shows the dark side of abandonment, drug addiction, homelessness, and crime! Jesse is very courageous to share his story so openly and honestly. As dark and tragic as this book is, it leaves you with hope. Jesse overcame so many obstacles in his life, and with the support of loved ones, he has turned his life around. I highly recommend this this memoir, it's such a powerful read!! I literally flew through it!
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I was excited to read this book because it had almost nothing but 5 star reviews, but I am not really sure that I liked it. It's a worthwhile read for sure, and well written, but I think maybe the structure of the book just didn't work for me.

I really, really liked the last section about how he finally turned his life around and reconnected with his indigenous roots - I think I wanted more of that, and because it was such a short section it almost got lost. He clearly worked so so hard to chang
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This is yet another example of Can lit that is championed by the Canada Reads competition, where the author’s life story is tremendously powerful, altogether heartbreaking and inspirational, but the writing does not hold up as well as it should.

Despite this, I did appreciate the rawness of Jesse Thistle’s memoir, and his willingness to be frank and honest about his experiences with homelessness, poverty, addiction, mental health and reconciliation. I walked away from this book with a renewed sen
Jul 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Barely 3 stars. Indistinguishable from basically any addiction memoir. The author's academic career sounds more interesting but was just the very end of the book. Family members in the story also sounded interesting, but were never fleshed out or given enough screen time.
J E S S E T H I S T L E ... THAT NAME and YOUR STORY, are going to be remembered … for a very long time to come. “… I longed to be part of something again, to be known and accepted, to hear my name. No one ever said my name anymore…”(Thistle 287)

This book of yours and the station at which you now find yourself at in your life, have such great potential to help others find HOPE, despite whatever drug or alcohol related struggles they may be going through. Words DO HAVE POWER, whether spoken or w
❀ Susan G

The hardships and lessons in From the Ashes linger in my mind. The book was a brutally honest account of the generational devastation of an Metis family impacted by the lasting effects of colonialism. Jesse and his brothers were abandoned by their parents, left in an apartment to fend for themselves and apprehended by the police before moving in with their grandparents. After a lifetime of neglect, abuse, addiction, crime and homelessness, it is quite rema
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read books like this before. This is a powerful testament of how deep a person can sink and still come back. Never give up.

What makes this one stand out from other such memoirs of degradation and redemption that I’ve read is how the author had so many opportunities to avoid the darkness. He must’ve had something about him that drew people because again and again so many were willing to give him a chance, to let him into their lives, and he kept blowing it. One bad decision after another, of
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Jesse Thistle is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He teaches Métis Studies at York University in Toronto, where he lives. He won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016, and was a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Scholar and a Vanier Scholar.

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“Mom used to think I was mute, but I could speak fine, I just chose not to. My words belonged to me, they were the only thing I had that were mine, and I didn’t trust anyone enough to share them.” 6 likes
“I longed to be part of something again. To be known and accepted. To hear my name. No one ever said my name anymore. I never told anyone who I was for fear of being found out. For what? I didn’t know. I had forgotten years ago. I slumped forward on the bench and held my head in my hands, trying to remember how my name sounded. I spelled it aloud to myself. J-E-S-S-E. Jesse.” 1 likes
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