Many children grow up unloved, but they don’t go to the extremes I did.
Mistakes to Run With chronicles the turbulent life of Yasuko Thanh, from early childhood in the closest thing Victoria, BC, has to a slum to teen years as a sex worker and, finally, to her emergence as an award-winning author. As a child, Thanh embraced evangelical religion, only to rebel against it and her equally rigid parents, cutting herself, smoking, and shoplifting. At fifteen, the honour-roll runaway develops a taste for drugs and alcohol. After a stint in jail at sixteen, feeling utterly abandoned by her family, school, and society, Thanh meets the man who would become her pimp and falls in love.
The next chapter of her life takes Thanh to the streets of Vancouver, where she endures beatings, arrests, crack cocaine, and an unwanted pregnancy. The act of writing ultimately becomes a solace from her suffering. Leaving the sex trade, but refusing to settle on any one thing, Thanh forges a new life for herself, from dealing drugs in four languages to motherhood and a complicated marriage, and emerges as a successful writer.
But even as publication and awards bolster her, she remains haunted by her past.
Memoirs are so fascinating to me. Diving into the mind of someone who has gone through such difficult circumstances makes me completely removed from my own mind. I always find myself unsettled by these memoirs but also so thankful I read them.
Mistakes To Run With is not just a tell-all about her life as a teenage sex worker through the elements of the 18 levels of Buddhist Hell, it’s a memoir that makes you really think on a deeper level. The feeling this book gave me stuck with me for an entire week. I felt uncomfortable but also thankful for the childhood I had.
This was such a harrowing read. I was so distressed for most of the book I had to read it in one sitting because the thought of returning to it brought such pain to my heart. This is such a potent read I really recommend this to people who have a strong stomach and wish to learn more about what goes through a person’s mind who chooses to live such a life.
The biggest take from this book for me was that although Thanh has moved past her history and built a better life for herself her demons, ghosts, everything that haunts her continues to be present. Leaving the book made me realize that she continues to struggle to this day and that was what left me unsettled. The thought that this person has been through so much and the tone that the book finished on confirmed that she will continue to fight her past for the rest of her life made me incredibly sad. Thanh is a brave soul.
**Thank you Penguin Canada for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.**