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From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way
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From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way

4.58  ·  Rating details ·  540 ratings  ·  106 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
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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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 ...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 ...more
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,
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
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.
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
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
James Wanless
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most powerful, unflinching and ultimately uplifting memoirs I've ever read. It managed to be a lived experience far different from my own, a gutcheck for my own assumptions and privilege, and a testament to human spirit.

Really a book you should read.
Francine Lily Woman
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Years ago I had an older friend who used to chide me over wearing my heart on my sleeve - he'd say, "You're too open and that leaves you vulnerable." I believe it is Jesse's willingness to not only face his truth but to live it each day that draws people to him, his story and his academics. I waited with bated breath for my chance to read this story - to see how Jesse wove the pieces of his life together. I wasn't disappointed. On one hand his story was so familiar to me - the brokenness of ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, poetic, heartbreaking, and raw. A true story of resilience and how much the human spirit can endure and overcome. So inspiring. Highly recommend.
Selina Young
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book!!! I also acknowledge that it may be triggering for some people.

Jesse tells his story with such genuine honesty and at times humour. The writing is so compelling that you get sucked in and don’t want to stop (or you reread every chapter as I did so I could spend a bit more time with the story and experiences).

It shows that small things can happen that spiral out of control quickly. It also shows the power of the human spirit, the power of family and the importance
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange I am leaving an honest review.

What an amazing story of hope from a Saskatchewan-born Métis man.

I work in a Housing First program, where I work to house individuals who are a lot like Mr. Thistle once was. Who have grown up with trauma and struggle with addictions. Some who have lived on the street even longer than this man did. And every day they inspire me and give me hope. Are the all going to be quite as successful as Jesse
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are some books that just come into your life at the exact right time. This book is one I will remember forever. I read this in one sitting (no kidding).
I have been wanting to learn more about individual Indigenous stories of those that end up addicted to drugs and homelessness. Then low and behold this book comes my way. It is a page turner.

Jesse was able to write such a dark book in a beautiful poetic way. Every chapter, I felt my heart long to help him. There were so many times I just
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
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the Ashes is resilience story that foregrounds the necessary lifeline of human connection--including the power of tangible links to culture, family and identity. This memoir looks unflinchingly at childhood trauma, violence, addiction and crime, but Jesse's concise self-reflective writing, as well as the book's brief chapters, make it an undaunting read. The sincerity and openness of the matter-of-fact narration guides the reader through tough subject matter with empathy rather than ...more
Ameema Saeed
4.5 stars

Well written and so compelling, Jesse Thistle’s Story was un-put-downable. Although he has gone through so much, his writing style was still hopeful, and painted the picture of a complicated, troubled young Métis man, all of the circumstances he had stacked against him, and how he got past them, to where he is now.

A great read!

I’m an Indigo Employee, and I received an advanced reading copy of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautifully written memoir by Jesse Thistle. This story highlights so many important things about homelessness and addiction. How Jesse was able to survive and maintain his life style on the streets is mind blowing.

I think for me this story really highlights that sometimes the life you are born into, is the life you have and some kids just don’t have a fighting chance. I think for Jesse, the life style of his dad played a huge part in his childhood and his up bringing just added fuel to
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars.
This book was very easy to read and it was captivating. I enjoyed the short chapters, how the story was mostly told in sequence and how honest the author was.
I was expecting the book to focus a bit more on the Métis aspect but it is mostly about the author’a struggles and homelessness. I enjoyed the story but I tjept waiting to learn more about his Métis background. There are areas in the book where it is touched on.
Jesse Thistle’s story is an interesting one and it is amazing that
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ohri-book-club
Amazing. One of the best books I have ever read. Absolutely captivated me and left me wanting more. The books and Jesse’s story was so real I feel as though I have a friend
Excellent. Would give 6 stars if I could
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an Advanced Reader's Edition of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. This book will be on sale on August 6th, 2019.

From the Ashes is an astonishing story. It's unflinching, dark, and engrossing. Despite the many, many upsetting events that occur in this book, Thistle does a good job of dwelling on them long enough for their impact to register but not so long that the reader drowns in their helplessness.

Thistle has suffered every indignity a
E Ma
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for a book that you can't put down, then this is it.

From the Ashes drops readers into the life of an indigenous boy who takes us on a journey through loss, love, drugs, crime and self discovery.

Jesse Thistle writes with such candid detail that the words spill from the pages and splash one by one into the readers imagination, enveloping them in his life.

I cried, laughed, hurt and cheered for him as he faced the conflicts of self and society that lead to a sense of identity
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Canadians--and Americans--simply do not understand the reality of foster care, of the sixties scoop, of drug use, and of what it means to be "Indian," as it is sometimes called in this book, or "Metis," as it is better described. This is a heartwarming and yet also terrible story of how Jesse beat back the demons of our white-privileged society to become a wise elder and a teacher to all of us. Wonderful read.
Alexandra Zabjek
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
An important book in Canada right now. Jesse Thistle writes personal anecdotes with the sweetest touch and endearing honesty - even when describing the darkest points of his life, including drug addiction and homelessness. Reading books by Indigenous authors is the smallest act of reconciliation, and From the Ashes is an important perspective on the struggles that some Indigenous peoples in Canada are facing, where those struggles originate from and how they've been overcome.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best memoirs I’ve read recently. Jesse’s story of redemption is incredible.
Jonathan Lafrance
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nice to read an autobiography. Jesse has a crazy story to tell. Everyone interested in homelessness and privilege/Oppression should read this book. Some of us definitely have a headstart in life
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, book-club, 4-star
Very intense book and dark at times. Cringed a number of times when he described his foot. Very real very graphic. Good perspective. Great read recommend!
Amber Leigh
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was very hard to read as it's someone's very personal journey but the author was very brave to share. I loved it!
Jenepher Lennox
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Although heart wrenching and at times difficult to read, I couldn't put this book down. Jesse's voice is honest, simple and clear. The resilience, creativity and honesty shown by Jesse throughout his life are inspiring and give hope that even the most desperate among us could find happiness, love, and meaningful work. This book gives deep insight into the experience of homelessness, dispossession, substance use, incarceration, treatment and recovery. Mostly though, it shows how someone with the ...more
Joanna Van Der Berg
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brutally honest and incredibly brave.
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a very difficult book to read. Jesse's honesty about his life and how he got to the point of homelessness is heartbreaking. He laid his life bare for all and it gave me a new insight to the plight of those lost in drugs and addiction. I'm glad I read it and recommend it to all.
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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.