A courageously heartfelt journey from profound self-destruction to redemption.



A Métis-Cree writer and professor examines how poverty, addiction, and poor choices led to a life of homelessness and crime.

The son of a Métis woman and an Algonquin-Scot man, Thistle spent much of his childhood in Saskatchewan dealing with his drunk, abusive father, who taught his children how to beg and steal. Eventually, the police put the children into foster care until Thistle's paternal grandparents became their guardians. Under their stern but loving care, the author's life normalized somewhat. Meanwhile, however, schoolmates taunted Thistle and his siblings for being “ugly Indians” abandoned by their parents. Self-identifying as Italian, the author began drinking and taking drugs during high school. Though his burgeoning habit temporarily abated when he fell in love with a young woman named Karen, an argument with his grandfather angered him enough to spend all of his hard-earned college money on drugs and alcohol. When his grandfather finally told him to leave, Thistle's life spiraled out of control. He became homeless and relied on "food banks, churches and shelter beds,” drifted from city to city, and got addicted to crack. One night, while high, he fell 35 feet from an open window and shattered his leg, which eventually developed gangrene. He was in and out of jail and rehab, and his health continued to deteriorate drastically. Estranged from family and gravely ill, he returned again to rehab, "shaking and vomiting and praying for mercy.” Then he started the long road back to not only personal recovery, but also reconciliation with friends, family, and his Native past. As Thistle narrates his personally harrowing, ultimately uplifting story of survival, he also addresses the life-altering damage that colonialism has wrought on Indigenous people everywhere—especially “how, when one’s Indigeneity is stripped away, people can make poor choices informed by pain, loneliness, and heartbreak, choices that see them eventually cast upon the streets, in jail, or wandering with no place to be.”

A courageously heartfelt journey from profound self-destruction to redemption.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-94-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?