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From the Ashes

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  2,529 ratings  ·  380 reviews
In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistleonce a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholarchronicles 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 just
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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Average rating 4.52  · 
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 ·  2,529 ratings  ·  380 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 ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fearless memoir of one mans journey to find himself. Hes never afraid to look way below the surface at what drives his behaviour. He writes this with the full knowledge that he cant 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
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 ...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, after
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
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
David Yoon
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 Generals 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
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.
"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
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
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 dont see at all) are dealing with ...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
This book is extraordinary.

It's taken me a bit to gather my thoughts enough to at least attempt to describe my feelings on it, so forgive me if this review comes out a bit jumbled. I always find that the books I enjoy the most or hold in high regard are the hardest to write about.

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
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. Im always impressed when someone takes the time, energy and effort to write a biography. Im 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. Im afraid I can relate. Im glad I can relate. So much to regret. So much to learn from. The person we ...more
❀ 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
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
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
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.
Amie's Book Reviews
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
FROM THE ASHES by Jesse Thistle is one of the most well written and honest memoirs I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Jesse is a Métis Canadian and although he never once blames his situation on colonization, his story and the situations his family was forced into by the Canadian government are perfect illustrations of it's cause and effect.

Jesse's memoir is written with bone-jarring honesty and cannot fail to get under the reader's skin. Only a sociopath would be able to read this book and
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Journey from childhood abandonment, through addiction and homelessness to scholar and activist, much of Jesses story is very hard to read. His addiction is relentless. He hits rock bottom again and again and again. Its hard to believe that he survived at all. He has a survival instinct though. More than once he intentionally gets himself arrested because he knows its the only way for him to avoid dying and to access rehab. Eventually, through education, reconnecting with his Métis-Cree roots and ...more
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
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From The Ashes is the memoir from Indigenous scholar Jesse Thistle about his life on the streets and his struggle with addiction and mental illness.

To say Jesse has had a hard life would be putting it lightly. From The Ashes is the literary equivalent of a punch to the gut. You spend the whole book trying to catch your breath but Thistle leaves you gasping for air by offering more and more tales of hardship, conflict and setbacks. He knew this was no way to live but did he deserve better?
A bleak and brutal recollection of a life lived under the veil and shame of multiple addictions. Jesse Thistle's ability to retell, without excuses, his history of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, and petty crime, is a testament to honest and cathartic story telling. But to have come through all that and to have battled those demons and built a life that includes marriage and academic achievement and even accolades, is nothing short of remarkable. I have so much admiration for the ...more
Caitlin R.
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I dont even know how to properly review this one except to say... wow. (Seriously, I just sat the book down and said wow out loud to my partner).

I think this one should be required reading for all Canadians. Thistle gave so much insight into addiction, homelessness, and indigenous issues, and for that I am deeply grateful. I hate to call something that is so heart wrenching beautiful, but it really was beautifully written. At times I cried because I was so sad, and (thankfully) I cried at the
Colleen Earle
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I do not like rating or reviewing memoirs because I never use the right words and it feels bad to review someones life.
This book was hard to read for subject matter, as Im sure it was harder to write.
Told mostly in shorter vignettes.
I found the style difficult because it didnt give the story much flow, though Im sure it was intentional. It reads like memories that are hard to recall.
An important book.
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
Tracy Morton
Wow! What an astounding life has been lived by Jesse Thistle. The book is gritty and honest and hopeful.
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 dont 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
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 authora 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 Thistles story is an interesting one and it is amazing that
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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 Generals Academic Medal in 2016, and was a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Scholar and a Vanier Scholar. ...more

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