Books·Canadian

Mistakes to Run With

Mistakes to Run With is a memoir by Yasuko Thanh.

Yasuko Thanh

Mistakes to Run With chronicles the turbulent life of Yasuko Thanh, from early childhood in the closest thing Victoria, B.C., 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 15, the honour-roll runaway develops a taste for drugs and alcohol. After a stint in jail at 16, 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. (From Penguin Random House Canada)

Why Yasuko Thanh wrote Mistakes to Run With

"I've always written. I've never not written. Even when my life was in upheaval and I was packing everything in a tote bag, I was always writing little bits of things. Whenever I had strong feelings about something, that's how it would manifest. It was my processing mill for experiences. It helped me make sense of what I was going through.

[Writing] was my processing mill for experiences. It helped me make sense of what I was going through.- Yasuko Thanh

"All of a sudden, I was meeting different people who had completely different experiences. I didn't know how I would be accepted. I knew for sure that I didn't want to hide anything of who I was, or what I had been through. That was important to me. In fact, you know it was so over the top when I began sort of leaving the [sex work] culture and the drug culture, and meeting new people that was pretty much how I would introduce myself: 'Hi, I'm Yasuko and I used to be a sex worker.' I had to get it out there."

Read more in her interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Yasuko Thanh

Yasuko Thanh talks to Shelagh Rogers about her memoir, on Mistakes to Run With. 18:38

From the book

Frances often worked double shifts to earn what I did in three hours. At the age of seventeen I was convinced of the righteousness of my behaviour, which showed what a person could do when not intimidated. I ate lobster, drove a Camaro. I wasn't a victim. We smiled from the curb at the men who drove around the block, waved, beckoned with our index fingers, manufacturing a sweetness for even the circle jerks who ogled our flesh through their car windows but never stopped to take us out. This was part of the job, smiling while covering up our fear.


From Mistakes to Run With by Yasuko Thanh ©2019. Published by Penguin Random House Canada.

Other books by Yasuko Thanh

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