Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: Ghost Boy

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius
The miraculous escape of a misdiagnosed boy trapped inside his own body

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Amazon Summary:
They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for ten years. 
In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin's parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.
Martin was moved to care centers for severely disabled children. The stress and heartache shook his parents’ marriage and their family to the core. Their boy was gone. Or so they thought. 
Ghost Boy is the heart-wrenching story of one boy’s return to life through the power of love and faith. In these pages, readers see a parent’s resilience, the consequences of misdiagnosis, abuse at the hands of cruel caretakers, and the unthinkable duration of Martin’s mental alertness betrayed by his lifeless body. 
We also see a life reclaimed—a business created, a new love kindled—all from a wheelchair. Martin's emergence from his own darkness invites us to celebrate our own lives and fight for a better life for others.
My Thoughts:

I'm not sure what compelled me to request this book for review. I already have a stack a mile high of books to review, and when this one arrived in the mail, I questioned my sanity in choosing it. I don't even like nonfiction, and I still have all these fairy tale retellings and dystopian stories at my disposal!

Once I started reading, though, I was hooked. The book reads more like a novel than an autobiography, and I often had to remind myself this was a real man speaking, not a fictional character. (The pages of photos placed between chapters at intervals helped.) The vocabulary usage - not something I generally notice, I'll admit - was stellar. Martin's story from first illness to his mind resurfacing to finally being able to communicate and live with the rest of the world drew me in. I loved the parts that spoke of his jobs and interactions with the world of computers and electronics - of how this man once thought a brain-dead vegetable contributed in ways nobody else could to the professional and personal worlds.



There were a few portions of the story I found disconcerting. This is an inspirational book, and Martin does speak of God, but I'm not sure the book itself would really qualify as Christian. There are a couple of curse words, which from a secular book of this nature would have been normal, but from a Thomas Nelson book were a bit shocking. One chapter in particular was rather graphic as it portrayed Martin's abuse at the hands of a certain employee at the care home where he stayed while his family went on vacation. The back cover copy says Martin speaks with "unflinching candor." That's exactly what it means. There's also multiple scenes during which Martin is learning or thinking about love, and sexuality and/or physicality are brought up. I understand this book is meant to be genuine and show the good, the bad, and the ugly of Martin's unique story; but I really didn't see why some of those things needed to be left in.

From a writing perspective only, this book really held only one flaw - and some may not consider it a problem. Like I said, the vocabulary choices were beautiful, and the story held a proper arc from despair in illness to joy in living. It's the pacing and order of scenes in the story that troubled me. While in most cases the order of events wasn't too difficult to follow, Martin's jumping back and forth between periods of and events in his life made things confusing at times. One minute he would be speaking in present tense of meeting a woman at a party, and the next he is telling the story of how he met the girl in the past who brought him to the party, before returning to the girl present. The switching between tenses and scenes was hard to follow at times, although I wouldn't let that alone stop someone from reading this powerful story.

In conclusion, I give this book three and a half stars.

I received a copy of this book for free through BookSneeze in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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