From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle is a 2020 Canada reads finalist battling in Canada’s “literary Survivor,” for the one book the country should read. The one book to bring focus to Canada. From the Ashes is the first book I read of the 5 finalists chosen this year and I have to say I think it is a book that the world needs to read.
Jesse Thistle shows us through his raw, honest and courageous voice his journey from his early years in Saskatchewan, being abandoned by his parents, living with his grandparents in Toronto, his self-destructive cycle of drugs, alcohol, crime and homelessness, to finding his way. It is an extraordinary, remarkable and inspiring story of survival, an inspiration to others, and a lesson in empathy.
His story is ugly and beautiful at the same time. His voice is quiet and hopeful but powerful with his raw, honest dark realities as he shares his story. At times it was difficult to read his heartbreaking reality not only with his life on the harsh streets but with the stereotyped words said to him. Words that I often heard when growing up that now pierced my heart to see. As painful as it is I feel these are dark realities that can’t be ignored and not seen.
Even though Jesse becomes caught in a vicious cycle for years and it seems the odds are against him, we see his determination to survive and the heartwarming love and support he receives and his courage to find his way. I highly recommend this inspiring memoir.