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From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by [Jesse Thistle]
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From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,535 ratings

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Praise for From the Ashes

“A memoir of resilience, spirit and dignity from a gifted storyteller. It is, at heart, also about the many shapes that love can inhabit. When you plan to read this book, clear your schedule. It will hold you in its grasp and won’t let you go, like a great novel. It’s all the more remarkable that this is not fiction. This book will stand out in my reading experience for a long time to come.”
— SHELAGH ROGERS, OC, host and a producer of CBC Radio's The Next Chapter, Honorary Witness, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

“So fortunate to have the opportunity to read ?From The Ashes. It launches in August and must be read by all. You’ll be drawn into the life journey of someone who’s struggled so deep yet has risen up to share with us what it means to be human. A deeply moving read.”
CLARA HUGHES, Olympian and author of Open Heart, Open Mind

“In spare and often brutal prose . . . Thistle weaves a narrative punctuated with joy and comedy and ultimately redemption.”

From the Ashes is an illuminating, inside account of homelessness, a study of survival and freedom. Jesse Thistle delivers a painfully lyrical book, a journey through the torrents of addiction and trauma, masterfully sliding in humour and moments of heart-expanding human connection. I found myself gasping out loud at parts, unable to put the book down. Jesse’s story shows us that there is nothing that cannot be transformed.”
AMANDA LINDHOUT, bestselling co-author of A House in the Sky

“A powerful and personal memoir.”
RYAN MCMAHON, via Twitter

“A gritty memoir recounting the devastating long-term effects of childhood abandonment. . . . The theme of estrangement is powerfully portrayed in what is ultimately a story of courage and resilience certain to strike a chord with readers from many backgrounds.”

“Candid and cutting, Jesse Thistle lays down his story with a brutal beauty you'll never forget. From the Ashes is a guided tour through a broken heart just trying to keep beating, both failing and succeeding spectacularly.”
CHERIE DIMALINE, bestselling author of The Marrow Thieves

“The best stories are the ones that stay with you. From the Ashes will stay with me for a long time. Maarsii to Jesse for coming through to tell this story. It is an important one. The revolutionary kind. The kind of story that changes how you look at the world, that shows us how amazing human beings can be, so capable, strong, resilient, powerful.”
KATHERENA VERMETTE, bestselling author of The Break

“[This] powerful and moving memoir is also a scathing indictment of the treatment of Indigenous people and the myriad ways systems fail them.”

“This is a work that should not be mistaken for a redemption story—it is a love story. About family. Community. A partner. Most of all: this is a love story about Jesse Thistle. How he came to love himself. Why he is worthy of love. And, importantly, how you will love him when you are done reading. This book signals change: in our understanding of worth, our compassion in the face of harm and self-harm, and the power and possibility that can exist in spaces we try to forget about. Jesse Thistle is amazing. His story is stunning. We will talk about colonial and other violence differently on Turtle Island because Jesse lived them and shared them with us. With an openness, candour and generosity that is inspiring. Its uglybeautiful/hurtlove will resonate with you long after you finish turning the pages. I am proud to call him nisîmis (my little brother).” 
— TRACEY LINDBERG, bestselling author of Birdie

“From the Ashes hits you like a punch in the gut. It’s an unflinching, heartrending, and beautifully written story of survival against seemingly impossible odds. But it’s also a book that should make you furious. Thistle paints a vivid portrait of a country seemingly incapable of doing right by Indigenous youth or by those struggling with homelessness, addiction, and intergenerational trauma. That he survived to tell this story is truly a miracle. Still, one question haunts me after finishing this powerful and devastating book: How do we ensure that the next generation isn’t forced to navigate a broken system that takes their lives for granted and fails them at every turn? My greatest hope, then, is that From the Ashes will be the wakeup call Canada needs.”
IAN MOSBY, historian and author of Food Will Win the War

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From the Ashes


The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

Matthew 11:12


Frenzied squeaks of jail-issued blue deck shoes on sealed cement followed by wet smacks, fast pops, loud cracks, and finally a dull thud confirmed it. A guy lay crumpled on the range floor, our range quartermaster told us. He wasn’t conscious. His legs were seized straight, quivering uncontrollably. He had pissed and shit himself.

We didn’t need to see it with our own eyes. The unseen, the unknown, in jail is often worse than the seen, the known.

The next day, after cell search, I heard that he had died en route to hospital.

Someone said he’d stolen a bag of chips from another inmate’s canteen, but who knew?

Who cared?

It was jail justice. The thief got what he deserved. According to us, according to society. At least that’s what I told myself. All I knew for sure was that I didn’t know anything and I hadn’t seen anything. I’d only heard it, but I wouldn’t even tell the guards that much. I had to survive, and the only way you did that was by keeping your mouth shut, turning your head away.

What was I doing here in jail anyway? Why had I put myself in the midst of this filth, this horrible violence?

The answer was simple.

I did it to save my leg—and my life. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07P575T5T
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster; Illustrated edition (Aug. 6 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 11032 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 369 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1982182946
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,535 ratings

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JESSE THISTLE is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and an assistant professor in Humanities at York University in Toronto. From the Ashes was the top-selling Canadian book in 2020, the winner of the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Nonfiction, Indigenous Voices Award, and High Plains Book Award, and also a finalist for CBC Canada Reads. Jesse won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016 and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Vanier Scholar. A frequent keynote speaker, he lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with his wife, Lucie, and is at work on multiple projects, including his next book. Visit him at

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
1,535 global ratings

Top reviews from Canada

Reviewed in Canada on November 3, 2019
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Reviewed in Canada on August 29, 2019
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Reviewed in Canada on January 31, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling Memoir about Homelessness
By Jacob on January 31, 2020
Thrilling memoir about homelessness in Canada. I usually don't like to read very much and read this book so fast! If you like "The Glass Castle" and "Educated", this book is for you. Highly recommend.
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12 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in Canada on October 22, 2019
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Reviewed in Canada on February 10, 2020
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Reviewed in Canada on April 18, 2020
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Reviewed in Canada on July 26, 2021
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Reviewed in Canada on February 13, 2021
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Top reviews from other countries

Silent Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent memoir of addiction and recovery
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 12, 2021
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Bryan G
4.0 out of 5 stars An incredible story of abandonment, despair, courage, and self-salvation
Reviewed in the United States on September 5, 2020
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3 people found this helpful
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Alison Norman
5.0 out of 5 stars An unbelievable story
Reviewed in the United States on January 6, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing journey
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars First hand look at addiction
Reviewed in the United States on April 11, 2021
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