From the Ashes

From the Ashes

My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way

eBook - 2019
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*Winner, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Nonfiction
*Winner, Indigenous Voices Awards

*Winner, High Plains Book Awards
*Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
*A Globe and Mail Book of the Year
*An Indigo Book of the Year
*A CBC Best Canadian Nonfiction Book of the Year

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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Jan 18, 2021

A heart-breaking, lyrical memoir that highlights the struggles Thistle overcame to become the man he is today. Provides some insight into historical issues for indigenous people without overgeneralizing.

Dec 29, 2020

I truly enjoyed this debut novel by Jesse Thistle, a journey of trauma, addiction and life on the streets through to hope, survival and redemption. Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, along with his two older brothers, Jesse's memoir takes us on a rough and tumble ride thru a life of adversity as an indigenous young man in Brampton, Vancouver and Ottawa' s Lowertown and Byward Market area. While various social service agencies and his own Cree Metis family members attempted to Pull him from the gutter, he was often his own worst enemy, sabotaging any and all efforts. But he persevered and without giving too much away, Thistle rallies to emerge a true success story. A great read.

Dec 28, 2020

I love a book that changes me and the way that I see the world. Jesse helped me to understand the indigenous people and the challenges that they are facing to overcome generations of abuse and distrust. I could not put this one down. It was so difficult for Jesse to write this memoire, and I am so grateful that he did. How do people live through that? Amazing!

Dec 16, 2020

Jesse’s story is one of both suffering and overcoming. It weaves together cultural and family wounds with the choices and outcomes that follow. It was gripping and hard to put down, but at the same time very difficult to read. It’s raw. This memoir shed light on some issues that I have not walked through personally, and gave me a greater compassion for people who suffer from addiction, childhood turmoil and racial discrimination. Despite the heaviness of this book, I read it with a deep hope for a triumphant ending.

Nov 19, 2020

Fantastic and well written. Did not put it down til finished. Bravo to Jesse Thistle!

Oct 15, 2020

Ordinary writing, present tense makes for juvenile tone, short chapters easy to read, but too lengthy overall.

Aug 14, 2020

I wish it had won Canada Reads 2020.

Aug 13, 2020

Book club July 2020

Jul 11, 2020

This book is an amazingly raw and honest depiction of the authors life and struggles. I believe his story deeply resingnates and represents the struggles that happens in the indigenous culture. Hopefully the readers come to this book with an openness to really hear and see how society has impacted the indigenous community. Also how addiction can cause so much damage for generations.

Jul 10, 2020

Incredible memoir of an individual's account on his journey through addiction and homelessness and struggles with family. I discovered it's a great companion read to Gabor Mate's book on addiction which I happened to read prior. If you want to understand people with addictions more, or have someone close struggling with addiction, this is a must read. If you want to learn more about marginalized people, this is a must read. Overall, a must read.

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