Book Review: From The Ashes by Jesse Thistle

A truly remarkable story of survival and success.

This is a remarkable true story of a man’s rise from poverty, homelessness, crime, and drug addiction. What is so amazing about this story is that it’s told in such a real, unblinking way. Jesse Thistle is tough as nails – he’s survived near death many times and had to navigate adulthood on his own due to losing his parents as a child. While his grandparents took him and his brothers in for a short time, the growing, rowdy boys were too much for them to handle and they were put into foster care. While he always held onto the hope that he’d see his parents again, Jesse realizes early on that adults aren’t reliable. He even hides pages of catalogue models under his bed (for which he’s scolded for), but the reason is very innocent – some of the models reminded him of his mother. 😦

Once he enters the party scene as a teen, he can’t keep jobs and soon finds himself homeless and addicted to drugs. Finding odd jobs to fuel his drug addiction, Jesse goes from temporary home to temporary home and turns to stealing. There’s a cop who lets him take change from the fountain even though he’s not supposed to allow anyone to do it – kudos to the cops who leave the homeless alone when all they’re trying to do is survive. Finding himself in prison after several petty crimes, it’s there that he starts to learn some principles such as the value of hard work, helping others, and working with others. At first he’s afraid to shower at the jail in case two of the bullies rape him, but he’s actually got a very wounded foot that won’t heal (dont want to give too much away), and instead of hurting him when he finally showers, they instead help him by giving him sandals to protect his feet.

He nearly finishes his high school diploma in jail but is released to go into rehab. This is such a difficult time for him, but he perseveres and meets people who want to help him succeed. His work at the jail gave him the confidence to realize he can accomplish things if he wants to. I love how he ends up reuniting with a girl he knew in high-school – a pretty redhead who had become successful and he falls for her hard.

I don’t want to give too much away, so if you’d rather not have the ending spoiled, I recommend that you stop reading here.


This line really gave me chills close to end after Jesse conquers addiction to alcohol and drugs and pursues his education in academia.

“After the conference, I’m supposed to go out to dinner with some colleagues, but I pass up on the free meal. Instead, I decide to go for a walk down Bank Street, along Rideau, past Parliament Hill and the Peace Tower, where I used to scoop piles of change, its flame of justice forever flickering over crests of our country’s provinces and territories. I look for my RCMP friend, but he’s not there.”

Powerful story with an inspiring ending. This is a must-read to anyone who enjoys great writing and true stories of healing.

You can purchase From The Ashes on various mediums that are listed on Goodreads here. I highly recommend that you do! Thanks for stopping by and reading this review today. ❤