The first of the five Canada Reads' books that I chose to read was From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle.
“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.” - CBC Books
There’s no denying that this book grips you from page one. The driving force behind this book for me was the desire to know how Jesse Thistle went from being homeless and eventually jailed, to becoming an assistant professor at York University.
The book is eloquently written with brutal honesty. It sheds a light on the struggles of addiction and the homeless crisis in Canada. It’s much more than that though. Childhood starvation and trauma from living with his drug-addicted father, who taught him how to steal and beg for food never escapes his consciousness. Eventually Thistle and his brothers are thrown into the foster care system where they had to endure abuse. It seems miraculous when they are eventually placed with their paternal grandparents and there’s sense of hope that all will be good. The ghosts from his past are never far behind however, and his struggle with his identity, not just his race, but as his father’s son, draw him to a life of depression and addiction.
Canada Reads is always about finding that one book that all of Canada should read. Would I recommend From the Ashes? Absolutely. I’ve always maintained that the key to empathy is through reading. Thistle has found a way to draw in his readers and to open eyes and minds to the plight of addiction and homelessness.
Up next: Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles.
Meredith is a Disney obsessed stay-at-home mom. When she’s not planning a trip, you’ll find her with her nose in a book.