The hardships and lessons in From the Ashes linger in my mind. The book was a brutally honest account of the generational devastation of an Metis family impacted by the lasting effects of colonialism. Jesse and his brothers were abandoned by their parents, left in an apartment to fend for themselves and apprehended by the police before moving in with their grandparents. After a lifetime of neglect, abuse, addiction, crime and homelessness, it is quite remarkable that Jesse Thistle found support and had the strength to deal with his addictions, complete a university degree, become an assistant professor and write a book that has been long-listed for Canada Reads!
Living with his grandparents, Jesse just kept ending up in trouble, failing classes and navigated towards a life of drugs and crime. His stories of living on the street are shocking and harsh. His rampant use of drugs and lack of care for his own body is hard to imagine yet there is hope!
This book would make an impact on high school students if they were to read and understand the pain and trauma that leads to addiction and homelessness. The Ontario Grade 11 English curriculum will be changed to an indigenous focus for 2020-21 and From the Ashes would provide great learning and perspective to students! They would read and discuss the author’s resilience, strength and the supports from family and his rehabilitation team that led him back to health.
I am hopeful that it will make the short-list for the Canada Reads debates as I think it is a story that needs to be told. I learned a lot by reading this book and will never look at another homeless person the same! The world needs more understanding and less judgement and this book provides an education which will lead to compassion.
For more information:
Also, check out his website and generous offer to skype with book clubs. My in person book club is excited to chat with him in April!: