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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Autobiography/Memoir, 2016

They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for 10 years.

In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged 12, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within 18 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 fewer 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 darkness invites us to celebrate our own lives and fight for better lives for others.

©2013 Thomas Nelson Publishers (P)2015 Thomas Nelson Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Very Interesting to me personally

I am the mother of a child with autism who was unable to communicate something even as basic as yes or no until he was 7 years old. Once he was able to communicate I discovered that he already knew how to read and knew so many more things than I could have imagined. I was thrilled to find a book telling the story of learning to communicate from that person's point of view. I was also very interested in his experiences with assistive communication devices. For these reasons, I may have liked this book more than someone similar to me in tastes but without my experiences would have. I was particularly interested for obvious reasons, in Martin's relationship with his parents, particularly his mother. Martin is an amazingly insightful, mature and forgiving person and I felt a lot of powerful emotion while reading this. The most powerful moment of the book to me takes place when Martin has regained his awareness and his family has no idea and his mother is weeping on the floor after fighting with his father about him and he is feeling so bad for her and she says to him that he needs to die. I could have died just reading that. I understood where he feelings came from but his reaction ripped at my heartstrings. Instead of hating her and being angry he is wishing that he just could die. So amazing. His attitude towards his mother was of great interest to me throughout the book. I thought he showed amazing understanding in his forgiveness of her and in his understanding that she'll probably never truly forgive herself. Clearly, I really liked this book. I am not giving it 5 stars simply because I found the ending parts much less powerful and they dragged for me. The end of the book details Martin's relationship with his wife - ending with their wedding. Clearly to him this is the most important part for him. However, and I almost feel guilty making this criticism, I would have found their love story more powerful if he weren't so determined to be in love with someone. If he hadn't mentioned how ready he was and how various other women he'd met had disappointed him when he wanted to fall in love with them. The book is very upbeat and ends happily. I should mention though that there is one chapter which details abuse Martin suffered in care situations. For anyone who deals with disabled people, this chapter is not a surprise, it is a sad fact. He does not dwell on it but people should be aware that this information is there.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

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An inspiring true story

I know I know.... you guys are thinking that I'm only giving this book such a high rating because it is a true story and it would make me feel guilty if I bad mouthed a book written by someone who went through so much turmoil in their life.

That's not true at all. First of all, the story taught me about a man that would be offended if I treated him with 'kid gloves' because of his tragedy. Secondly, the story is truly inspiring and well written.

I am sure that everyone feels entitled to be loved. It made me realize how much we take being loved for granted. We take everything for granted in life when it comes so naturally to us. This book makes you stop for a moment, slow down, and enjoy and appreciate those things that we start to accept as average or mundane.

I enjoy how the story was written with short, not necessarily continuing chapters. It allowed for a fuller overview of Pistorius's story. Simon Bubb was a good narrator. His voice was subtle and didn't overwhelm, nor underwhelm the story. I enjoyed his work.

Overall: This was a great listen that added more appreciation to my life.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 02-21-15

Emerging From Darkness

This isn't a perfect book, but it certainly is a perfect experience. You loved seeing past the pain and terror of mental illness to the true genius that "A Beautiful Mind" portrayed? How about the beauty, the lyricism that came with "My Left Foot?" "Ghost Boy" comes from those depths, reaches those stellar heights, and you'll probably, if you have even a single sensitive bone in your body, cry before you've finished listening to this book.
What I love about this book is that Martin is by no means bitter, despite having every right to be. The years he's lost, the illness/debilitation, the abuse he's suffered—he'd have every right to hold on to these horrible, horrible things that have happened to him. Instead, he approaches every thing, every day as though he's breathing a hope and a prayer. This is not a negative, downer of a book and Pistorius is an extraordinary human being.
Years ago I worked with a severely-disturbed teen-aged girl with multiple impairments, no vision, and no language. Sometimes through the day and night, she'd jab her chest hard with her finger, over and over, while tiny tears trickled down her face, and of course, she had no words to go with this. I always wondered if she was feeling, or trying to say something like, "Me. I'm here." I'd hug her, but she'd still keep jabbing, still keep crying, and I'd wonder.
Now, after reading this amazing, funny, inspiring book by Mr. Pistorius, I feel like I can close my eyes and at least send out a little prayer to that girl (No, now a woman), and say, "Yes. You're here."
Thanks for the book, Martin

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Eileen
  • ENID, OK, United States
  • 02-21-15

What an awesome book.

If you could sum up Ghost Boy in three words, what would they be?

Interesting, captivating and moving.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the Ghost Boy as a whole. The story flowed from beginning to end. When the last line of the book was spoken I yelled, NO! I wanted to hear more. The story was so good that I didn't want it to end. If I had to say, I guess what I liked most about the story was about how he triumphed from a tormenting situation to communicating with his family and friends once again. How he overcame in the face of adversity.

What about Simon Bubb’s performance did you like?

The performance of the reader was excellent. He knew just when to act the part. He was very smooth.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was moved through out the book because the boy suffered so much that it was hard not to be moved but, when the boy told about his sexual abuse at one Country Center for the mentally Challenged I felt anger. There was another situation of abuse that also made me angry. Some people in this world are so mean.

Any additional comments?

The story was about a boy that all of a sudden became ill and became coma like. He came out of the coma in two years but then he was in like a vegetable state. Everyone thought he was brain damaged but he wasn't. He was trapped inside a body that wouldn't move and was paralyzed. He was treated like a brain dead patient. The story tells of his suffering in a world where people didn't know he was in there screaming to get out. He had feeling throughout his body and ached at times to be turned. He could taste and hated the same food day in and day out. They played Barney on the TV every day and he hated Barney. He longed for the end of the day every day when his father would come and take him out of the care facility to the comfort of his home. The story goes on to tell his story as he progresses through life and becomes able to communicate. You will not be able to think of a person in a coma in the same way as you used to think of them. The book has a surprising and beautiful end. I didn't want the story to end because it flowed so beautifully. I wasn't ready to stop hearing about his life. I laughed, I cried twice and I listened to the whole book in one setting. I just couldn't put it down. I'd say a lot more but I don't want to give the book away.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Inspiring, enlightening!

This is a true story that will forever change the way I treat people who cannot speak. It is a moving autobiography written by Martin Pistorius, who was locked inside his own body, immobile, unable to communicate for years, while fully aware. What a nightmare. Then one kind and perceptive caregiver noticed that Martin seemed to be present mentally. She strongly encouraged his parents to have Martin evaluated, after which his solitary existence began to improve quite rapidly. I was moved by Martin's story. He is an eloquent author! The only reason I gave the story four stars instead of five is that for me, Martin provided too much detail. Another irritant was that many of his chapters were oddly very short. Some could have been omitted and the story would have benefitted from a smoother flow of narrative. Also, Martin might have over-shared personal conversations he had with his fiancé. As I listened to those conversations, I sometimes had the creepy feeling that I was eavesdropping on some very private moments. Still, I am happy to have read this book. I checked out Martin online. On YouTube I found a TED talk he gave not so long ago. Quite impressive. It is a joy to see him so strong and well and happy. What a wonderful outcome.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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worth a listen

great start to the story, got too caught up with the love story at the end though and the last few chapters were quite slow. would have preferred to hear more about experiences whilst unable to communicate rather than the drawn out courting of Johanna

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Best Book In Years

YOU GOT TO EAT A LITTLE SALT
1. True Story
2. Horror Story
3. Entertaining
4. Romance
5. Hero
6. Motivating
7. Enlightening/Informative
8. Must Read
9. Insightful
10. Beautifully Written
For all that has happened to Martin, he is not a cry baby, he is a loving and caring person, who loves life.

25 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Insightful

Offers an insiders view of acute illness. Further inspires the reader to be more careful, thoughtful and supportive of those in need.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story!

I was disappointed when the book ended because I wanted to hear more!!!
Martin is a hero in my eyes and really appreciate him sharing his story!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Painfully beautiful & terribly amazing.

This is miracle we all hope for when hearing of or personally encountering a person with limited abilities yet a painful road for those stuck inside an unwilling body.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • kay miller
  • 05-14-15

Overwhelming!

An incredible true story of pure determination, sadness, happiness and love!

Thankyou Martin for sharing your personal life & making us aware of the strength you showed of becoming a man, lover, friend and special son, from the depths of despair from the Ghost Boy x

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bronwen
  • 04-09-15

You must add this to your collections!

Even better than I anticipated, this book unleashed every emotion I am capable of feeling. Exhausting, Exhilerating and beautifully read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dawn from Kent
  • 03-01-15

Well and truly amazing man

So pleased I listened to this book, what a truly amazing and inspirational man, had me gripped all the way through and felt very emotional as his life came together by the end of the book. Truly wonderful, would love to meet this amazingly wonderful man and give him a hug

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • S R CHAMBERLAIN
  • 09-05-16

Moving ...

Moving, terrifying, enlightening, educational, anger indusing, thought provoking, sad and happy, all the emotions under the sun provoking, memorable - I feel honoured and humbled to read it. Thank you Martin for sharing your story.

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  • dilys
  • 09-02-16

loved it

sad happy tears laughter a truly lovely story a remarkable man courageous so so happy he has found love

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  • John
  • 10-21-15

Good story, not a fan of the religious preaching

when listening to the book there are several times when Martin said 'God did this' and not 'I believe God did this' the religious messages throughout the book I had no problem with, if he had said ''I believe God did this' rather than 'God did' it comes across as insensitive to those who do not belong to the Christian faith

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  • t
  • 08-04-15

Fantastic and inspiring

Loved it. Beautifully narrated. A reminder to cherish the wonderful moments in our lives and to keep moving forward.

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  • Jane
  • 09-29-16

Eye opening!

What did you like best about this story?

All of the care givers who were exposed once he could communicate.

Any additional comments?

Every nurse or care giver should listen to this book. If more of us paid more attention, we may be able to help others escape.