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---Why I Bought This---
I first became awre of Martin Pistorius after hearing his book discussed on Saturday Live on Radio 4 a while ago (23 July 2011) - I was so moved by hearing of his story that I decided I had to read his autobiography - Ghost Boy.
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (5 July 2012)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (7 July 2011)
From Amazon - Paperback £4.26, Hardback £7.94.
I have this book in paperback. It is mostly text only with just five images of Martin as a young child, later in life and then finally on his wedding day.
I defy anyone to read this book without shedding a tear.
This is an autobiogaphy written by Martin Pitorius. Martin was born and brought up in South Africa and was a normal active boy - until he was struck down with a mysterious illness in 1988 when he was 12 years old, which began ony with a sore throat. He became more and more unwell untll he had lost the ability to move or communicate, and though his parents took him to many specialists no cause or cure could be found.
Martin therefore ended up in a practicaly vegatative state, but his parents refused to give up on him, with his father insisting that Martin still lived at home, though he would be in Day Centres and then in residential care when his father had to travel on business. His mother found the situation almost impossible, and after years of trying to get help for Martin she devoted herself to her other two children.
Martin does not remember any of his happy childhood, and he calls himself the 'Ghost Boy' as that is how he saw himself. It was only when he was about 16 years of age and was spending his days at care centres for the disabled that awareness gradually began to return to Martin's consciousness. However this was with a realisation that he could not speak or move, and could therefore not convey to those who cared for him, or to his parents, that he was now actually conscious inside his own body and was well aware of what was happening to him.
During this time Martin would suffer abuse and mistreatment, when 'carers' would abuse him as they did not realise he was aware all the time.
His situation is unimaginable to us, and often Martin retreated within himself and would escape by using his imagination - the only way be could disassociate himself from the things that were happening to him.
Martin calls himself the Ghost Boy as during those terrible years he was able to see and hear what was going on around him but could not make his presence felt or show that he was actually 'there'.
Martin's return to the world came when an aromathrapist gradually noticed that Martin seemed to be making facial expresions in answer to questions. Through many tests it was found that Martin could communicate via a specially designed computer.
To cut a long story short Martin actualy began living. Althoguh confined to a wheelchair be began having part time jobs and givig talks on hsi comunication system.
Martin's sister Kim had moved to the UK and Martin began chatting over the computer with a friend of hers. This disance romance blossomed and Martin visited her and she then returned to South Africa where she was also from. Martin proposed and the book ends when they get married.
This is such a touching story that one cannot fail to be moved, From Martin's parents love of their son and determination to help him as much as possible to the years of torment Martin endured while locked silently within his body.
However the blossoming of the story is the love that develops between Martin and Joanna. Joanna falls deeply in love with Martin, although he still cannot speak and has to use a wheelchair.
This is a love story in the truest sense when you see how Joanna fell in love with Martin over the internet and their love grew.
This is proof that love means more than the superficial qualities of looks etc.
This book should make anyone who is feeling sorry for themselves take another look at their lives.
May they have a long and happy life together.
---Would I Recommend?---
"It is a deeply affecting and at times shocking book... The Diving Bell and The Butterfly but with a happy ending"
The Sunday Times, 17 July 2011
"[Pistorius's] levels of empathy are remarkable, perhaps because he was forced for so many years into the role of watcher and listener, hearing people unburden their problems around him, absorbing their pain without them knowing... [his] communication is strikingly direct, almost fearless in the way he confronts emotional reality."
Catherine Deveney, Scotland on Sunday
"Martin tells the story of his remarkable recovery--and how he eventually came to find love, a home and a job... Now in a deeply moving - and ultimately uplifting - new book, Martin Pistorius tells the amazing story of life as The Ghost Boy. "
The Irish Mail
From being completely immobilised and mute from the age of twelve due to a mystery illness Martin slowly regains his consciousness and learns to communicate via computers and word boards. Still unable to speak and confined to a wheelchair - by his 30s Martin has found true love and gets married - a truly inspiring story. If ever we feel sorry for ourselves we should think of how Martin coped.