From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way

S. & S. Aug. 2019. 368p. illus. notes. ISBN 9781982101213. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781982101237. MEMOIR
First-time author Thistle (Métis studies, York Univ., Ont.) presents a gritty memoir recounting the devastating long-term effects of childhood abandonment. Raised by his grandparents after the end of his parents’ abusive relationship and his father’s disappearance, the author struggled with issues of identity and anger, falling into a life of drug addiction that left him homeless, ill, and estranged from family and friends. Unsparing in his depiction of life on the streets and the desperate measures and dangerous behavior his addiction drove him to engage in, he makes a clear connection between his destructive lifestyle and the pain, fear, and loneliness of his past. Similarly, Thistle credits the supportive community and educational opportunities he found in rehab, as well as a reclamation of his identity through a reconnection with his Métis ancestry, as essential components of his eventual triumph over addiction and his reconciliation with his mother.
VERDICT Although Thistle’s memoir does not deal extensively with issues of native identity and oppression, 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.

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