Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mistakes to Run With” as Want to Read:
Mistakes to Run With
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mistakes to Run With

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  504 ratings  ·  64 reviews
A devastatingly frank memoir that tears open the past to examine how circumstances—and the choices we make—dictate the people we become.

Mistakes to Run With chronicles the turbulent life of Yasuko Thanh, from early childhood in the closest thing Victoria, BC, has to a slum to teen years as a sex worker and, finally, to her emergence as an award-winning author. As a child,
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Hamish Hamilton
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mistakes to Run With, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mistakes to Run With

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  504 ratings  ·  64 reviews

Sort order
Start your review of Mistakes to Run With
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
At the age of seventeen I was convinced of the righteousness of my behaviour, which showed what a person could do when not intimidated. I ate lobster, I drove a Camaro. I wasn't a victim. We smiled from the curb at the men who drove around the block, waved, beckoned with our index fingers, manufacturing a sweetness for even the circle jerks who ogled our flesh through their car windows but never stopped to take us out. This was part of the job, smiling while covering up our fear.

Mistakes to
Stephanie Chow
Sep 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
I don't often review books, but I have to say that I thoroughly disliked this memoir.

The author's journey from an academic and athletic wunderkind, to a "teenage crack ho" (her words, not mine) within a couple of years, and coming out on the other end as an accomplished author, loving mother, and resilient woman was hardly the harrowing tale it's being marketed as. It didn't come across as brave, or tragic, or devastating, or inspirational. To me, it read as self righteous, privileged, and
chantel nouseforaname
I hate to use the word "harrowing" and I feel like it could fit with Yasuko's account of her life, but I feel like it's not the right word. The definition of harrowing is acutely distressing and Mistakes to Run with is completely distressing; but at the same time, it's kind of like, there's this sense that.. she chose all of this. Which, for the reader, makes it feel like.. umm, okay.. so what... I see your story... annnnd?.. What's the purpose here, Ms. Thanh?

Yasuko Thanh is no doubt a very
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Yasuko Thanh spent years writing with a passion before returning to school as a mature student to study creative writing, and bursting onto the Canadian literary scene with well-reviewed short stories and a novel. Articles referred to her having lived on the streets and worked as a busker. However, her background was actually less breezily eclectic, as seen in her memoir, which tells of childhood pain turning to adolescent alienation, shoplifting and drinking turning to sex work and crack ...more
Brandon Forsyth
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Brutally honest” is a time-honoured cliché when talking about memoirs, but this book earns all of the times I’m sure it will be used. “Brutally inspiring” might be an even more apt turn of phrase - Yasuko Thanh’s raw prose and unflinching examination of her mistake-filled path through life are sometimes as difficult to read about as they are admirable. We’ve all made mistakes in our lives - what makes this writer and this book so special is that here, she has not run away from a single one of ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
The emotion of Mistakes To Run With is disarming. You digest Thanh’s concise sentences in gulps, only to realize they are pungent. (Like desiccated bees perhaps?) You are pulled along and yet pull away, shocked with each chapter and turn of her story. I am amazed at her survival, her resilience, her suffering, and her raw strength. Mistakes is an incredible story of a challenging and full life, the living of which culminates in an incredible prose. Her words are the affect and effect of buoyed ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A balance of striking realistic grounding details of a high school runaway’s early life as a sex worker and eventually a mother’s account of becoming an author and dealing with mental illness. I always enjoy a book that subverts the usual ideas and prejudices many of us have towards certain ways of life. She wove beautiful motif and metaphor all throughout. Devoured this in three days!
Shandi Pattison
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A really beautiful and poignant memoir about growing up in a loveless family, struggling with childhood depression and living on the streets. Thanh is great with description, and in her honesty. I could not put this book down. I found it very arresting and gripping. I wish the best for Suko and for her mental health.
Janet Hutchinson
Interesting read, and a little upsetting. But to go from life on the street, to a award winning author....the story is pretty compelling. But upsetting.
Ron S
A raw and gritty memoir about trying to write and right oneself out of 18 levels of hell and then some, by the author of Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains.
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a Vancouver sex work memoir. Of course I read it. And stayed up too late all week because I needed to read "just one more chapter."

Thanh describes her experience as an underage run-away who ended up low track in a brutal and unflinching way. She's clearly done quite a bit of work on herself, analyzing how her childhood experiences and family life led to her mispent and exploited youth.

I tend to question any diagnosis of borderline personality disorder applied to difficult women as it has
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mistakes to Run With is without a doubt, the grittiest memoir I have ever read. Yasuko Thanh writes about a difficult and traumatic life with blunt yet beautiful prose- though the subject matter is incredibly tough, I found it easy to read & flew through the pages. I admire her tenacity, she has gone through hell and lived to acknowledge and recount her story up to now. It's very much a story of survival, punctuated by bursts of hope. I don't think many people who have lived through what she ...more
Feb 14, 2019 added it
Shelves: netgalley-read
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley so in exchange I’m providing an honest review.

I loved this book. Thanh is brutally honest about her life, which can’t be easy with the experiences she has lived through. Thanh is engaging and real while sharing tales of homelessness (both as a youth and an adult), mental illness, working in the sex trade, and dealing in drugs. But she’s also relatable, like when she speaks to the love of her children, wondering if she’s messing her kids up,
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn’t put this book down until I could finish (read in one single day). Such heart breaking experiences from childhood onwards, but so beautifully written. Can’t wait to read more of her work.
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yasuko Thanh's story demonstrates in the most heartbreaking way what can happen to a life, to a soul when it isn't shown protective love or care. From a young age, and particularly after the birth of her brother, Yasuko was ignored. Her mother wanted nothing to do with her but doted on her brother, and her father, suddenly afflicted with a myriad of allergies and sensitivities, retreated to his bed.

At fifteen, she found the streets. She sold her body for money, for shelter, for food. She found
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!!!!!! I encourage everyone to read it!

This book made me feel a variety of different emotions, but when I finished it, I felt very uplifted and inspired. Not everyone can relate to this entire novel, I certainly cannot say that I have ever done drugs or worked as a sex worker, but I still felt connected to this book. I believe I felt this way because of the way Thanh describes the emotions and the thoughts going through her head. understood the way she felt, and it made me
Virginia Van
In this frank memoir, Yasuko Thanh tells of a childhood in Victoria where, despite success at school and athletics, she felt unloved by her evangelical family, leading her to cut school, smoke, shoplift and, at 15, to turn to drugs and alcohol. Placed in care and finally ending up in jail briefly, she takes tot he streets where she falls in love with the man who would become her pimp. Working
the streets of Vancouver, where she encounters dangerous johns, crack cocaine, and an unwanted
Jul 24, 2019 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Heartache, survival, and resilience are the best words I can think of in describing Yasuko Thanh’s memoir, Mistakes to Run With. As a pre-teen, Yasuko was an honor roll student and talented gymnast with nowhere to go but up. By 15, she was selling her body on the streets of Victoria, Canada. The story follows Yasko as she develops an addiction to drugs and alcohol, spends some time in jail at 16, and later falls in love with her pimp. It’s a whirlwind of emotion from start to finish, and while ...more
df parizeau
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Definitely one of the most difficult reads for me in 2019. Not because of the quality of writing, but more so due to the brutally frank nature of the book. There were definitely moments where I was almost ready to tap out and I believe that that is one of the great strengths of this book. Part of our usual expectation for a memoir or biography is the anticipation of the revelatory moment or great success that makes the difficulties the writer faced in life "worth it". Not to say that Thanh does ...more
Paul Lemcke
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
When you have a life filled with trouble, you have compelling stories to tell. Sad, painful stories filled with drugs, alcohol, mental illness and terrible decisions. Thanh is clearly an intelligent woman and her ability to write an interesting story kept me engaged throughout her memoir. I was rooting for her. I was on her side as much as a reader of a memoir can be. I wanted everything to be rosy, but there's just too much difficulty in her life for this to be a realistic outcome. Having ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This book has made me think profoundly. I don’t even know where to begin. Thanh made me think about the desires we have about success, love and relationships. How far will we go? When do we know if we’ve gone too far? Thanh’s honesty is heart wrenching but nonetheless eye opening. I admire her honesty, which I am sure was not easy to write for the world to read. I recommend this book to anyone who wants an honest book that will make you think about how far you’ve come!
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: cancon
At first I felt a little like I was reading something I shouldn't be. Maybe a little because of the content, but I think mostly because it felt like all of what I was reading should be private to the author. I am sure it was cathartic for the author to write down some of the things in the book and get them out - although I can appreciate that it was likely no easy task. The book is beautifully written and overall I enjoyed reading her story even if it was difficult to get through at times.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really good read, as I was finishing it I actually had chills and a sense of happiness for her and her accomplishments. The only problem i had with it was the way the timeline went, some events that seemed like they weren't that long, she'd claim a lot of time had passed and some events seemed like they would've been a pretty long time but then she would say only a few weeks or days had passed. A little confusing but other than that it was written really well, could barely put it down.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really well written memoir that brought back so many memories of my own life, many I had forgotten. Will definitely read again! So many parts to enjoy, especially about her own experience with using writing as a way to escape, and how she turned her writing into her lifeline...i hope to do the same oneday ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable book, definitely worth reading for anyone who has struggled with their own demons. Or for anyone who has not. So many of her phrases, her word selections, resonate deeply giving pause for thought and reflection. A second read may be required to fully understand the depth of her journey.

Thank you so much for writing this Yasuko Thanh.
Alicia Kaiser
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, 2019
I flew through this memoir but that doesn’t mean it was an easy read. Beautiful, honest and brave, Yasuko Thanh opens up the conversation around mental illness, abuse, survival and finding self and recovery through the stories of her life.

Her writing is poetic, visceral and often triggering and I highly recommend this to folks ready and willing to be a part of those conversations.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Quite a story - the fact I was familiar with the locale of her harrowing life might have made this book even more engrossing. Not an easy read considering the path the author was following. Also - as most of events only took place recently - I hope Thanh has come out the other side to a safe and contented life.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book but the writing let me down. There were so many interesting aspects that could have been explored, but it read more like a list of shock-value experiences with no depth of analysis and a weak—sometimes conflicting—narrative.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A revealing examination of a young woman who grows up in Victoria, BC before becoming a sex trade worker.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way
  • A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose
  • Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family
  • A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
  • Every Little Piece of Me
  • The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family
  • Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants
  • Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine
  • Aria
  • Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person
  • Dual Citizens
  • Empire of Wild
  • Out of the Shadows: A Memoir
  • Love & Courage: My Story of Family, Resilience, and Overcoming the Unexpected
  • Shut Up You're Pretty
  • Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age
  • The Shape of Family
  • Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.: A Memoir
See similar books…
Yasuko Thanh’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Prairie Fire, Descant, PRISM international, and Vancouver Review. The title story, "Floating Like the Dead," won the prestigious Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize in 2009. She was a finalist for the Future Generations Millennium Prize, the Hudson Prize, and the David Adams Richards Prize, which ...more