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

by Jesse Thistle

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21010106,197 (4.27)26
"From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up. Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, but their tough-love attitudes meant conflicts became commonplace. And the ghost of Jesse's drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. One day, he finally realized he would die unless he turned his life around. In this heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful experiences with abuse, uncovering the truth about his parents, and how he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family through education. An eloquent exploration of what it means to live in a world surrounded by prejudice and racism and to be cast adrift, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help one find happiness despite the odds."--… (more)
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» See also 26 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
A very sad story of a young man who loses his way very early on and to no fault of his own. It is a raw account of his drug and alcohol addiction and eventually (thankfully) a rising to find his true calling. This book has parts that are hard to read given the graphic description of his addiction and homeless situation but important to really understand these issues that impact people everywhere. Insightful and well written. ( )
  tinkerbellkk | Nov 28, 2021 |
Just wow. An incredible story that’s compulsively readable and exceptionally impactful. There was a point where after relying so much and being relied on by his brothers when they were young, he suddenly went off and I wanted to know how they were doing, but we eventually caught up to them and really this is Jesse’s story. Sometimes the story is important yet is lacking something in its form, but I felt like everything came together here for me: the writing, the structure, his storytelling, his reflection, the impact… it was a beautiful memoir.


CW: Sexual assault ( )
  bookedinsideout | Aug 17, 2021 |
Jesse and his two older brothers (Metis-Cree) were abandoned by their parents when Jesse was only 3-years old (older brothers Jerry and Josh were 4 and 5). They spent a short time in a foster home before their paternal grandparents in Ontario came to get them. Jesse did not do well growing up – he got into trouble with alcohol and drugs, stealing, and he was off-and-on homeless. He was in and out of jail a few times before he eventually turned his life around.

This was really good. Jesse also writes poetry and it is sprinkled throughout the book. The chapters are short and overall, the book is fairly quick to read. So many times I shook my head, and thought: ok, this has to be rock-bottom, when you’ll turn your life around. But it wasn’t. So many times. I also wondered occasionally how he remembered as much as he did looking back on his life, given all the drugs and alcohol, but he addressed this in a note at the end. ( )
  LibraryCin | Dec 24, 2020 |
This is a true story about a mixed breed Canadian Indian that grew up with a drug addicted father and a emotionally detached mother. He ended up in foster care and without a lot emotional problems himself. He went through a period hard core drug addiction and homeless, including severely injuring his foot so that chronic pain the rest of his life. He ended in jail many times, then rehab. Like the book title, he rose from the ashes of his life to marry, graduate from college and is now university professor. I understand very much the difficulty he had growing up as adopted a teenage boy that had been through a traumatic childhood, and he has similar issues maintaining a normal life. Jesse Thistle's book is raw and emotional but also very touching. We need to need to learn to be more compassionate to people with emotional pain. ( )
  kerryp | Dec 7, 2020 |

From the Ashes is a multi-award nominated memoir by Jesse Thistle. It was the first memoir I have read in years and completely changed my idea of the genre. I always thought that memoirs were boring and for most of my life, I avoided any books in the nonfiction genre. Now that I’m older and trying to read more outside of my comfort zone, I decided to read From the Ashes after seeing it in the front of my local bookstore. After reading Thistle’s memoir, I want to read more autobiographies not only for how interesting they can be, but also for the important perspective into another’s life.


I think in an ever changing world full of people, it’s important to read memoirs and nonfiction books to understand what we might not experience in our own lives. It takes compassion and empathy to understand another point of view. I read this book in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests and ongoing discussions of injustices within Canada. Thistle really dives into his life experiences, and in doing so covers so many different issues within Canada. Thistle’s narrative covers his early life as a young indigenous boy to his experience with homelessness, addictions, and access to healthcare/wellness services as a young adult. Perhaps most importantly, Thistle’s story is about power and hope. I’m truly so happy that he found the strength to write and share his story with the world. I’m even happier that Thistle is receiving recognition for what he has written.


One of the reasons I loved the memoir was because of Thistle's narrative voice. The style of short chapters was like a snapshot of different portions of Thistle’s life. I was invested from start to finish. Along with the chapters, Thistle included images and photographs from his life so the reader could put a face to the real people within the novel. I also loved that the beginning of some chapters began and ended with poetry. It contextualized the events and gave more emotion to the content within. If Thistle plans on publishing again in the future, I would love to read a book of poetry!


As a Canadian, I thought From the Ashes not only told Thistle’s life story, but that of many other Canadians who are forgotten. Canada has a representation of being a welcoming, open place full of accepting people. Citizens within my country are quick to comment how we are ‘better than our neighbors in the South.’ While a lovely thing to hear, it is far from the truth when reading of what Thistle has gone through in his life. If you’re not Canadian, or even if you are, From the Ashes definitely has the potential to change your image of Canada as a perfect country for all of its citizens.


Rating 9/10: I loved everything about this book and one of those books I think anyone interested in expanding their reading horizon should read! ( )
1 vote Reading.rock | Oct 17, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Thistle details his and his siblings’ hunger, abandonment, and seizure by child services, exposure to false promises of monetary wealth, and experience with violence and homelessness. He is thrown out of his grandparents’ house and ends up on a series of urban streets in Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa, where he struggles to find community, home, and some source of income (be it begged, borrowed, or stolen)....His deeply intelligent and frank relationship with trauma is one in which he is both immersed and able to see a way out of from time to time. The dialogue in the book is conversational and matter of fact, which belies the deeply meaningful way Thistle engages with the pain of broken relationships and broken relatives. Reading it requires you to take your thoughtful self, not just your judging and forgiving self, to the edge of places most of us don’t like to visit or think about. ....With openness, candour, and generosity, Thistle provides moments of profundity and eloquence that also serve as a reminder of the depth and kindness that live in every person. Importantly, he reveals a Canada known to too many peoples yet ignored by the dominant culture, and clearly illustrates what happens when traumatizing systems are the colonial answer to the very problems the colonizers created.
 
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"From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up. Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, but their tough-love attitudes meant conflicts became commonplace. And the ghost of Jesse's drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. One day, he finally realized he would die unless he turned his life around. In this heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful experiences with abuse, uncovering the truth about his parents, and how he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family through education. An eloquent exploration of what it means to live in a world surrounded by prejudice and racism and to be cast adrift, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help one find happiness despite the odds."--

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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 just a struggling crackhead.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heartwarming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.
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