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Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing

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For much of his life, Clayton Thomas-Muller's very existence has been scrutinized and vilified. As a child, he endured the intergenerational trauma that resulted from his family attending residential school. Growing up Cree in downtown Winnipeg, Canada, Clayton faced systemic racism and violence in school and on the streets, which led him to use his fists to defend himself For much of his life, Clayton Thomas-Muller's very existence has been scrutinized and vilified. As a child, he endured the intergenerational trauma that resulted from his family attending residential school. Growing up Cree in downtown Winnipeg, Canada, Clayton faced systemic racism and violence in school and on the streets, which led him to use his fists to defend himself and earn his livelihood. He escaped the hold that drugs and alcohol had on his life by reconnecting with his Cree heritage. For twenty years, he has been a campaigner with organizations including the Indigenous Environmental Network and 350.org, on the front lines of stopping the assault of industry on Indigenous peoples' lands. Using a nonlinear, oral storytelling style, Life in the City of Dirty Water offers the reflections of a man in midlife, telling his inner child, "I'm here now and I'm going to keep you safe."


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For much of his life, Clayton Thomas-Muller's very existence has been scrutinized and vilified. As a child, he endured the intergenerational trauma that resulted from his family attending residential school. Growing up Cree in downtown Winnipeg, Canada, Clayton faced systemic racism and violence in school and on the streets, which led him to use his fists to defend himself For much of his life, Clayton Thomas-Muller's very existence has been scrutinized and vilified. As a child, he endured the intergenerational trauma that resulted from his family attending residential school. Growing up Cree in downtown Winnipeg, Canada, Clayton faced systemic racism and violence in school and on the streets, which led him to use his fists to defend himself and earn his livelihood. He escaped the hold that drugs and alcohol had on his life by reconnecting with his Cree heritage. For twenty years, he has been a campaigner with organizations including the Indigenous Environmental Network and 350.org, on the front lines of stopping the assault of industry on Indigenous peoples' lands. Using a nonlinear, oral storytelling style, Life in the City of Dirty Water offers the reflections of a man in midlife, telling his inner child, "I'm here now and I'm going to keep you safe."

30 review for Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I really, really wanted to like this memoir. It's about an indigenous man from Canada who is about my age, and as an American, I only know a bit about Canadian indigenous culture, history and racism. The book also talks about the intergenerational trauma that came from the adults in his life attending residential schools, which was an important issue I wanted to learn more about. It's also a compelling story about a man who decided to make a change with his life and got involved in indigenous en I really, really wanted to like this memoir. It's about an indigenous man from Canada who is about my age, and as an American, I only know a bit about Canadian indigenous culture, history and racism. The book also talks about the intergenerational trauma that came from the adults in his life attending residential schools, which was an important issue I wanted to learn more about. It's also a compelling story about a man who decided to make a change with his life and got involved in indigenous environmental movements, constantly fighting back against racism. I would give 4 stars to the more personal parts of the book and 5 stars to the author's storytelling at times. However, the book was only OK in parts. It's broken up into four parts and the first part is a strong start. But then, in the second part, when the author begins talking about his activism, he doesn't tell us ABOUT his efforts and his feelings so much as list all the places he worked, people he met and worked with, and conferences and events he attended. It felt like a narrative resume or a list of facts. Then, in the third part, where we get back to some storytelling, it becomes more like disjointed essays. It's not told in any linear fashion and I couldn't see how he made the choices he did to tell which stories and when. It felt really disjointed, and I ended skimming the last half of the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    LIFE IN THE CITY OF DIRTY WATER: A Memoir of Healing by Clayton Thomas-Muller is a gritty and inspiring memoir that braids together the urgent issues of Indigenous rights and environmental policy. The author is a leading organizer and activist on the front lines of the environmental justice movement and brings his warrior spirit to fight against the ongoing assault on Indigenous peoples' lands by Big Oil. "There is no justice without environmental justice. The plundering of the land is the plund LIFE IN THE CITY OF DIRTY WATER: A Memoir of Healing by Clayton Thomas-Muller is a gritty and inspiring memoir that braids together the urgent issues of Indigenous rights and environmental policy. The author is a leading organizer and activist on the front lines of the environmental justice movement and brings his warrior spirit to fight against the ongoing assault on Indigenous peoples' lands by Big Oil. "There is no justice without environmental justice. The plundering of the land is the plundering of the people. When the land is polluted, the people are polluted." I feel the need to share some gems from Clayton Thomas-Muller's writing. "The most renewable energy on the planet is not solar energy. It's the human capacity for love, kindness, and forgiveness....The sacred way of life that we have as Native people, the Sundance way of life, the path of kindness and unconditional love, inspires me." "We should not have to sacrifice the quality of the air, the climate, the water to put food on the table, to put opportunity in the hands of the people who want opportunity. We should be able to pursue economic development in a way that solidifies our place in the sacred circle of life. Our economic opportunities should be born from a place of restoration of the biosphere, of regeneration." I am glad that this was one of five books chosen for Canada Reads 2022. Otherwise, I would have missed reading this important book with a beautiful cover. 4.4 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    3.5 stars, with mixed feelings. At times this felt like random recollections of one man’s life, at others, a political activist’s handbook. Both were interesting in their own way, but I didn’t really know what to expect from one moment to another. I really liked his reading of the audiobook - very honest and real - and his work is inspiring. I think I would appreciate more structure to the writing, but definitely a good read for my reconciliation work!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Ugh I feel like such a hater. This felt gratuitous. A vanity project with really bad narrative structure that repeated itself, didn't offer much in the way of insight into a life (instead you should read "From the Ashes" by Jesse Thistle) or wisdom. It felt like a name dropping, if-I-can-hustle-my-way-to-the-top-so-should-you, list of accomplishments from someone who inadvertently proves it's not what you know but WHO you know. Here is a nugget of truth I relate to: P 47: "If you haven't lived up Ugh I feel like such a hater. This felt gratuitous. A vanity project with really bad narrative structure that repeated itself, didn't offer much in the way of insight into a life (instead you should read "From the Ashes" by Jesse Thistle) or wisdom. It felt like a name dropping, if-I-can-hustle-my-way-to-the-top-so-should-you, list of accomplishments from someone who inadvertently proves it's not what you know but WHO you know. Here is a nugget of truth I relate to: P 47: "If you haven't lived up north, you may not know just how rough it can get. A fist fight is nothing. All it takes is a look, and you have to be ready to go." And yet, by his own admission he hasn't spent much time up north. He was raised in Winnipeg and has lived in the US and Ottawa. It didn't even wrap up with a solid plan about how we can move forward with climate justice, just pipe dreams of having rez homes powered by solar power.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shimmi Kelly

    I’m gonna be real, the best thing about this book is the cover. Not even the title, either. Just the cover. The thing is, reviewing memoirs always feels like a delicate process, as there’s the added layer of the author having poured out the details of their personal life. I want to preface this to say that I respect Thomas-Müller and I think he’s incredibly resilient to have endured so much in his life. He’s also incredible to have fought so hard and given back to Indigenous communities in the wa I’m gonna be real, the best thing about this book is the cover. Not even the title, either. Just the cover. The thing is, reviewing memoirs always feels like a delicate process, as there’s the added layer of the author having poured out the details of their personal life. I want to preface this to say that I respect Thomas-Müller and I think he’s incredibly resilient to have endured so much in his life. He’s also incredible to have fought so hard and given back to Indigenous communities in the way that he has. However, this memoir is just all kinds of wacky. I read it because it’s on the Canada Reads shortlist, and now I’m just sitting here, confused. It’s an incredibly fast read because the writing is about 10% (simple) prose, 90% a description of his life that reads like a journal entry, and then a resume. The first section was decent, but after the resume part, I really started to skim. Also, there’s no concrete order to the stories that are told. It’s very oddly executed. The stories aren’t told chronologically, and it’s hard to figure out why he chose the order that he chose. It reads like someone who just sat down, wrote out 200-something pages about their life, stream-of-consciousness style, and then published it without editing it. It just… wasn’t good. At one point, he’s raving about his wife, and he actually interjects, “I love you, baby”, in the middle of the memoir. It just was not for me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This memoir wasn't for me - I deeply respect the author for breaking out of the cycle of trauma and abuse he was born into and for finding his voice as an activist and community builder, but the memoir felt like a series of loosely connected anecdotes which jumped forward and backward in time without a real framework. The writing just did not work for me. I found it to be lacking in description and, frankly, pathos. There's no denying that Thomas-Muller has been through some horrific trauma as we This memoir wasn't for me - I deeply respect the author for breaking out of the cycle of trauma and abuse he was born into and for finding his voice as an activist and community builder, but the memoir felt like a series of loosely connected anecdotes which jumped forward and backward in time without a real framework. The writing just did not work for me. I found it to be lacking in description and, frankly, pathos. There's no denying that Thomas-Muller has been through some horrific trauma as well as risen to do some pretty amazing things as a community leader but it all feels muddled. Beyond that, I would have liked more detail on his time as an activist - it read very much like and I did this in Nevada and big oil was poisoning everything but we fought back, and then this in Alaska, etc., etc. The level of detail of what it was like to live through this was just not there. I also expect that this will be a divisive pick at the Canada Reads debates. Thomas-Muller gives his frank opinion in a way that I expect some readers will find offensive (as an example, he makes reference to the Conservative Party of Canada under Stephen Harper as a fascist political party - I'm no Harper fan, but I found it to be a bit much). This won't be my pick to win this year and I expect it will need a very strong showing from its champion to make it far into the debates. It's a worthy pick and I expect will add to the conversation, but I don't think it's this year's best book for Canada to read. We'll see if the panelists agree.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    An incredibly honest and moving memoir from an award-winning Canadian Indigenous land rights activist. The author details his heartbreaking childhood of domestic and sexual abuse, intergenerational trauma (both his parents were Residential school survivors), his experiences with racism, poverty, homelessness, gang life, being in and out of juvie, dealing drugs and substance abuse. Clayton moved around a lot with his mother and had a large extended family but was never very close with his birth f An incredibly honest and moving memoir from an award-winning Canadian Indigenous land rights activist. The author details his heartbreaking childhood of domestic and sexual abuse, intergenerational trauma (both his parents were Residential school survivors), his experiences with racism, poverty, homelessness, gang life, being in and out of juvie, dealing drugs and substance abuse. Clayton moved around a lot with his mother and had a large extended family but was never very close with his birth father. He was lucky enough to have loving relationships with some of his other family members who tried to help him change the destructive path he was on and who taught him a love for the land and his Cree culture and traditions. He also was very close with his German adoptive father and wholeheartedly embraced that side of his family. It was hard to imagine and read about all the trauma the author endured by such a young age and yet was still able to change the direction of his life and find purpose serving various intercity Indigenous youth groups and later fighting Big Oil as an environmental rights activist. He also does a really good job discussing various social issues Indigenous communities face today and talking about his love for his wife and sons. He doesn't shy away from his ongoing struggles with cycles of addiction, abuse and anger and actively sought therapy to heal, finding that coming home to Winnipeg (the city of of dirty water) was ultimately one of the things that helped him find peace. Highly, highly recommend this one, especially on audio read by the author and for fans of other Indigenous memoirs like From the ashes, Thunder through my veins or A mind spread out on the ground. Also, can we all appreciate how gorgeous this cover is?!?! Favorite quote: "Anger was the medium I moved in. Anger seduced me into conflict with every authority figure I crossed paths with. Anger lured me into crime. It made senseless violence and pointless destruction the only way I could express myself. It made drug dealing and prostitution seem justified. Because if nothing matters, anything goes. That is the corrosive tide of nihilism. And when I found the path of the land warrior I only became angrier and justice is a gasoline on the fire of anger and I burned. I burned bright sometimes and I got shit done but I burned those around me and I was burning myself up."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    It is tough to review a memoir as it feels like I’m criticizing someone’s life story but I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. I wanted to for many reasons but it is too disjointed, in parts. It started off well but lost the narrative once the author got out of juvie. The book seemed to descent into lists of where the author worked and who he worked with. The occasional story was sprinkled in, but the sense of story had been lost by then. There is no doubt that this is an impressive man and he It is tough to review a memoir as it feels like I’m criticizing someone’s life story but I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. I wanted to for many reasons but it is too disjointed, in parts. It started off well but lost the narrative once the author got out of juvie. The book seemed to descent into lists of where the author worked and who he worked with. The occasional story was sprinkled in, but the sense of story had been lost by then. There is no doubt that this is an impressive man and he is doing great work for his people and for the world but, as a story, this book doesn’t hold up. I did appreciate the way he explored his anger and the anger his people deservedly feel over generations of abuse by Canadian society. It was an important perspective for me to hear. I just wish the narrative had better supported the important thing the author had to say.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Trina

    I had high hopes for this, and they were not met. I was hoping for a book that would give me insight into Indigenous perspectives on environmentalism, stewardship, and activism. There were bits of this, but a lot of it seemed to be focused on his rough youth and his experience with male fathers and father-figures. I would have preferred a chapter or two about each (I do recognize that it is a memoir), but then to really dig in and learn about all of the different organizations that he worked for I had high hopes for this, and they were not met. I was hoping for a book that would give me insight into Indigenous perspectives on environmentalism, stewardship, and activism. There were bits of this, but a lot of it seemed to be focused on his rough youth and his experience with male fathers and father-figures. I would have preferred a chapter or two about each (I do recognize that it is a memoir), but then to really dig in and learn about all of the different organizations that he worked for. How did the Indigenous perspective at the core of those groups influence HOW decisions were made?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I read this novel because it is one of the nominated books for Canada Reads 2022 and I am glad that I did. It gave me a better understanding of Indigenous people and their struggles.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺

    Honestly, I only finished this book because it's a Canada Reads title. The storytelling isn't great and the narrative hops all over the place. Honestly, I only finished this book because it's a Canada Reads title. The storytelling isn't great and the narrative hops all over the place.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fraser Simons

    It gets the job done, and really I like the idea that the structure is something he wanted to codify for his children. I expected this to be a lot more about activism and the oil sands, but those are very minor parts of the memoir. It mostly feels, because of the non-linear structure, that when it gets to something I was personally interested in it would be fleeting because the structure reframes things fairly often. I think it’s quite effective at conveying people as products of their environme It gets the job done, and really I like the idea that the structure is something he wanted to codify for his children. I expected this to be a lot more about activism and the oil sands, but those are very minor parts of the memoir. It mostly feels, because of the non-linear structure, that when it gets to something I was personally interested in it would be fleeting because the structure reframes things fairly often. I think it’s quite effective at conveying people as products of their environment and his struggle to change his life to where he is now. It makes the parts I was least into pertinent, which sometimes, because there isn’t a through line until further in, felt meandering and incongruent. There’s some speaking on indigenous beliefs and culture and systemic issues continually being a counterforce to indigenous peoples’ trying to move forward from massive trauma inflicted for hundreds of years. More than anything it is more like a traditional biography memoir in that it traces his life from childhood to where he is now. For people picking it up for a more granular look at activism and environmentalism, like me, there isn’t so much here. Though he is fairly upfront about his mentality, what worked and didn’t work, and his feelings on those issues—they are invariably tied up this unique structure, so you never know when a chapter will go into those topics. The narration is fine, not great. And there’s some very heavy content, some of which you’d expect, other things, such as the sexual assault of a child, you may not see coming. Lots on physical and emotional (domestic) abuse, addiction, generational trauma.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    Life in the City of Dirty Water is a beautiful and candid glimpse into the life of a prolific Indigenous activist, Clayton Thomas-Müller. The author writes about his life with honesty and vulnerability, recalling the many challenges of growing up skinny, queer, Cree, and forcibly urbanized by the development of megadams on his ancestral territory. Maleness and anger are major themes as he learns to work through the trauma, racism, and gang involvement of his childhood. His stories are dark, but Life in the City of Dirty Water is a beautiful and candid glimpse into the life of a prolific Indigenous activist, Clayton Thomas-Müller. The author writes about his life with honesty and vulnerability, recalling the many challenges of growing up skinny, queer, Cree, and forcibly urbanized by the development of megadams on his ancestral territory. Maleness and anger are major themes as he learns to work through the trauma, racism, and gang involvement of his childhood. His stories are dark, but they show how he's leveraged his life experiences to become the activist, warrior, and global thinker he is today. I wouldn't call Clayton Thomas-Müller a skilful narrator, but he's very charming and personable. I loved the way he imitates his loved ones and punctuates his sentences with laughter. His optimism for the future is even more infectious when spoken aloud. For that reason, I highly recommend the audiobook version. Other readers have criticized the lack of detail around his activism, so it might be worth noting that I started reading with the knowledge that he lived in two of the same cities that I have. It became a very personal and affecting read in a way that may not be the case for everyone, so I've adjusted my initial five star rating to four stars instead.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Maybe 2.5. I did appreciate the author's perspective on environmental issues and how they relate to Indigenous rights. I also applaud him for writing a memoir and sharing some stories of his life and family. But, I have to say that I really did not enjoy this book. If it were not part of the Canada Reads 2022 campaign, I may not have finished it, although it is short. I simply did not agree with many of the author's ideas, like maybe people who ran residential schools weren't all that bad. His c Maybe 2.5. I did appreciate the author's perspective on environmental issues and how they relate to Indigenous rights. I also applaud him for writing a memoir and sharing some stories of his life and family. But, I have to say that I really did not enjoy this book. If it were not part of the Canada Reads 2022 campaign, I may not have finished it, although it is short. I simply did not agree with many of the author's ideas, like maybe people who ran residential schools weren't all that bad. His comments on the need for breastfeeding came out of left field and I could not see why they were relevant to the story. It bothers me when a man is talking about having children and says "we were pregnant" more than once. I also noted several references to people finding this author hard to work with, and the persona he projected in the book was increasingly irritating, so I can see why. He thinks his son was born on June 31. Now I am probably ranting, but I am very disappointed to say this book was a dud for me. At least it is not long.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Helin

    *DNF page 47* I really wanted to like this one and as much as I wanted to finish it, it was so hard to stick with when every sentence was a completely different thought than the last. I'm all for nonlinear storytelling but this just felt like passing remarks. I think Clayton has incredible stories to tell but this book would have benefited from a reworking to piece together ideas. *DNF page 47* I really wanted to like this one and as much as I wanted to finish it, it was so hard to stick with when every sentence was a completely different thought than the last. I'm all for nonlinear storytelling but this just felt like passing remarks. I think Clayton has incredible stories to tell but this book would have benefited from a reworking to piece together ideas.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ula Tardigrade

    Powerful, raw memoir by an Indigenous activist from Canada. Nowadays we hear more and more about the horrors imposed on the First Nations people but we rarely have an opportunity to listen to their own voice. And Clayton Thomas-Müller's voice is definitely worth hearing. First part of the book, describing a difficult and traumatic childhood, is the most captivating. The author writes openly about all the good and bad things that happened to him, without bitterness, rather with a deep understandin Powerful, raw memoir by an Indigenous activist from Canada. Nowadays we hear more and more about the horrors imposed on the First Nations people but we rarely have an opportunity to listen to their own voice. And Clayton Thomas-Müller's voice is definitely worth hearing. First part of the book, describing a difficult and traumatic childhood, is the most captivating. The author writes openly about all the good and bad things that happened to him, without bitterness, rather with a deep understanding and compassion. It reminded me a little of The Glass Castle, even though the stories pictured here are much darker and more violent. Such is the life of many Indigenous communities in Canada and I think it is very important to be aware of this. And it makes all the more impressive all the achievements of Thomas-Müller, of which we learn later in the book. Despite all these difficulties, the author became a leading figure, a successful activist - and a caring husband and father. It was very interesting to read about the common fight of indigenous peoples from all around the world and how their tenacity brings much needed changes. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (miss_kellysbookishcorner)

    Title: Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing Author: Clayton Thomas-Muller Genre: Memoir Rating: 4.0 Pub Date: August 24, 2021 T H R E E • W O R D S Candid • Gritty • Vital 📖 S Y N O P S I S In Life in the City of Dirty Water Clayton Thomas-Muller's shares his life story. This is his journey from years enduring the results of intergeneration trauma, systemic racism and violence as a child, to escaping the binds of drugs and alcohol, reconnecting with his Cree heritage Title: Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing Author: Clayton Thomas-Muller Genre: Memoir Rating: 4.0 Pub Date: August 24, 2021 T H R E E • W O R D S Candid • Gritty • Vital 📖 S Y N O P S I S In Life in the City of Dirty Water Clayton Thomas-Muller's shares his life story. This is his journey from years enduring the results of intergeneration trauma, systemic racism and violence as a child, to escaping the binds of drugs and alcohol, reconnecting with his Cree heritage and becoming an activist. A story of trauma and healing, of identity and perseverance, and the legacy of colonialism. 💭 T H O U G H T S I am thrilled Life in the City of Dirty Water was selected as a finalist for the 2022 Canada Reads debates, otherwise I may have very well missed it. From Clayton's heartbreaking childhood filled with abuse, poverty, homelessness, intergenerational trauma, and gang life; to persevering and becoming an activist, this memoir brings together two urgent issues: Indigenous rights and environmental activism. There is certainly a lot to process throughout his narrative, yet showing up and learning is a vital part of the process of reconciliation. Written primarily for his children, Clayton's growth and vulnerability really made this book shine. With a little more structure and flow to his writing this would have been a five-star read for me. For example, the first part (focusing mainly on his childhood) felt so deeply personal, which I absolutely loved. It was filled with emotion and honesty. However, as I moved through the sections it began to be more biographical, reading more like a narrative resume, than someone's life story, which I was not a fan of. And again switching back to more of a storytelling approach in later parts, making it feel rather disjointed as a whole. Overall, Life in the City of Dirty Water is a crucial memoir, and I am grateful to have had it cross my path. And I'd be remiss if I did not mention the absolutely stunning cover. I really took the time to see the singular elements, as well as the whole. 📚 R E C O M M E N D • T O • all Canadians • fans of From the Ashes and/or A Mind Spread Out on the Ground ⚠️ CW: addiction, drug use, drug abuse, colonization, geocide, violence, child abuse, domestic abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug trafficking, sexual assault 🔖 F A V O U R I T E • Q U O T E S "One of the mysteries of creation is how closely saving yourself and saving the world are linked. If you don't take care of the world, you will only end up harming yourself. and if you don't take care of yourself, you won't do the world any good. We're all part of the world. It is an illusion to think any of us can be separate." "Understanding the way history intersects with the human heart can take a lifetime. But the fight for justice is something you can roll up your sleeves and wade into right away." "Though I have never been in a residential school, through my family I know the darkness that was bred there: the terror of each night, the reek of urine in the dormitories from all the scared kids peeing their beds." "Warriors are not defined by fighting. They are defined by fighting for."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lara

    "All people deserve to be loved and to love. And how they want to do that is none of anyone's damn business." "Some environmentalists might ask what fighting a pipeline has to do with LGBTQ rights. But I know that everything is connected." "The most renewable energy on the planet is not solar energy. It's the human capacity for love, kindness, and forgiveness. That's the fuel that drives me." "All people deserve to be loved and to love. And how they want to do that is none of anyone's damn business." "Some environmentalists might ask what fighting a pipeline has to do with LGBTQ rights. But I know that everything is connected." "The most renewable energy on the planet is not solar energy. It's the human capacity for love, kindness, and forgiveness. That's the fuel that drives me."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Abbey

    Definitely a good read! Only bad thing was I was sometimes confused about the timeline because he would jump back and forth in time

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Loved the first third of this book. After that It was as if he was just listing off places and initiatives with no real story telling or character involvement.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    I could not recommend this book more! I am overwhelmed with emotion and learned so so much

  22. 4 out of 5

    Heather(Gibby)

    4.5 Stars I am always amazed when people write memoirs and rip open their guts to the world. This book addresses so many things -the authors personal journey in self-discovery -the colonization of Anishinaabe people in Canada and around the world -the effects of the trauma of residential schools -the effect on the environment that many/most/all energy initiatives have ravage on the earth so much more One of my favorite quotes from the book . "paying money for the privilege of trashing the planet-whic 4.5 Stars I am always amazed when people write memoirs and rip open their guts to the world. This book addresses so many things -the authors personal journey in self-discovery -the colonization of Anishinaabe people in Canada and around the world -the effects of the trauma of residential schools -the effect on the environment that many/most/all energy initiatives have ravage on the earth so much more One of my favorite quotes from the book . "paying money for the privilege of trashing the planet-which is pretty much the definition of a carbon offset-is just another luxury for the global middle class. " There are a number of gut punching nuggets like this that succinctly summarize really complicated issues.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lexi

    Life in the City of Dirty Water is a powerful memoir by a Cree environmental activist. The books is broken into sections that deal with the author’s early childhood, path to activism, and current life. I liked how the early parts were more linear and then parts of his childhood are woven into later parts to combine past and present. It was a 2022 Canada’s Reads finalist, and I finally got around to reading my ARC copy (which has major formatting issues but I assume that was the ARC and the real Life in the City of Dirty Water is a powerful memoir by a Cree environmental activist. The books is broken into sections that deal with the author’s early childhood, path to activism, and current life. I liked how the early parts were more linear and then parts of his childhood are woven into later parts to combine past and present. It was a 2022 Canada’s Reads finalist, and I finally got around to reading my ARC copy (which has major formatting issues but I assume that was the ARC and the real copy was fine, so no stars removed for that). However, I recommend this to anyone and not just Canadians (not being a Canadian myself).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Lalor

    I did not enjoy reading this book. First, there were so many errors and confusing sentences - it seemed like this book was published quickly with very little editing. The structure/timeline was also confusing and jumped around a lot. I found the most compelling parts of the book were when Thomas-Muller discussed his personal experiences and talked about his family. The parts about his work in activism often read like a cover letter - this was not only tedious but also gave me the impression that I did not enjoy reading this book. First, there were so many errors and confusing sentences - it seemed like this book was published quickly with very little editing. The structure/timeline was also confusing and jumped around a lot. I found the most compelling parts of the book were when Thomas-Muller discussed his personal experiences and talked about his family. The parts about his work in activism often read like a cover letter - this was not only tedious but also gave me the impression that the author was potentially taking more credit for successes than he should, when clearly many of the wins were team efforts. Anyhow, I think there were important messages and interesting experiences in this book but they were overshadowed by poor editing, as well as a writing style and structure I did not care for. As another reviewer mentioned, "From the Ashes" by Jesse Thistle explores many of the same themes but, for me, was a vastly better reading experience.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

    This is not a linear memoir. I'm really starting to see how linear storytelling comes from a colonial worldview. I have a feeling that is why this book is being rated so low. Which makes me sad because this is an awesome book. Yes, the timeline jumps around a lot, but that is the treasure of Indigenous storytelling. Clayton writes five sections of a book which are connected but focus on different pieces of his life. The first section focuses on where he came from and how generational trauma has i This is not a linear memoir. I'm really starting to see how linear storytelling comes from a colonial worldview. I have a feeling that is why this book is being rated so low. Which makes me sad because this is an awesome book. Yes, the timeline jumps around a lot, but that is the treasure of Indigenous storytelling. Clayton writes five sections of a book which are connected but focus on different pieces of his life. The first section focuses on where he came from and how generational trauma has impacted him and his family. The following sections follow his passion of working with Indigenous youth and climate justice initiatives. He is currently a campaigner for 350.org an organization that fights the fossil fuel industry on a global scale. I recommend this book to you if: ✅ you want to learn more about Indigenous perspectives and storytelling ✅ you want to understand Indigenous intergenerational trauma ✅ you have an interest in climate justice and climate action ✅ its Earth Day I really connected with his writing and his work for climate justice. He writes eloquently about his connection to land and family. Thank you for sharing your story Clayton 🌎

  26. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Jones

    3.5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟💫 A difficult, but inspiring, hopeful story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex Kogay

    Memoirs are impossible to rate - what am I going to say? "Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing, but I didn't quite expect your life to turn out that way, so meh... 3/5"!??!!? obviously no! Clayton's journey is inspiring and I am overwhelmed by admiration. He is sharing so many deeply personal thoughts and feelings and mixes them so well with his work and passion for the environment - it's a fascinating read. The audiobook is recommended because it's like listening to him tell you your story Memoirs are impossible to rate - what am I going to say? "Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing, but I didn't quite expect your life to turn out that way, so meh... 3/5"!??!!? obviously no! Clayton's journey is inspiring and I am overwhelmed by admiration. He is sharing so many deeply personal thoughts and feelings and mixes them so well with his work and passion for the environment - it's a fascinating read. The audiobook is recommended because it's like listening to him tell you your story over coffee, doing some weird voices, and getting emotional.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan Colautti

    A 5 for the subject matter but a 3 for the writing style. Challenge some of my preconceived notions but it jumped around both on subject and timeline.

  29. 4 out of 5

    CynthiaA

    I had never heard of Clayton Thomas-Müller prior to this book. How is that possible when I was familiar with most of the organizations he had worked for? I am SO GLAD this book was selected for Canada Reads 2022 because otherwise, it would not have crossed my path. And I am SO GLAD I read this. I learned. I ached. I grieved. I questioned myself. I learned some more. This book is gut-wrenchingly candid, profoundly forthright, relevant, important, generous in spirit, informative and unapologetic. I had never heard of Clayton Thomas-Müller prior to this book. How is that possible when I was familiar with most of the organizations he had worked for? I am SO GLAD this book was selected for Canada Reads 2022 because otherwise, it would not have crossed my path. And I am SO GLAD I read this. I learned. I ached. I grieved. I questioned myself. I learned some more. This book is gut-wrenchingly candid, profoundly forthright, relevant, important, generous in spirit, informative and unapologetic. If you need to do some colonization unlearning, I HIGHLY recommend this book. Go in with an open mind and an open heart. It won't hurt so much.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Holly Melissa

    2.75 ⭐️ I found some of the subject material here very interesting, particularly the information about the contamination of the Athabasca Delta and the meaning behind the title. The chance to expand my knowledge on other cultures is something I’m always striving to do and this memoir taught me some new things and allowed me to deeper understand some concepts I’d already learned a little about. Unfortunately, I found the writing style and lack of chronology/continuity to be very challenging to rea 2.75 ⭐️ I found some of the subject material here very interesting, particularly the information about the contamination of the Athabasca Delta and the meaning behind the title. The chance to expand my knowledge on other cultures is something I’m always striving to do and this memoir taught me some new things and allowed me to deeper understand some concepts I’d already learned a little about. Unfortunately, I found the writing style and lack of chronology/continuity to be very challenging to read and therefore building a connection to the story was hard for me. Note: The cover art is maybe the most beautiful I have ever seen.

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