Thinking Out Loud

May 5, 2015

Inside the Mind (and Heart) of a Ghost Boy

Subtitle: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body

Martin PistoriusAlthough I’m arriving late for the book review party, I was especially drawn to Ghost Boy, the story of Martin Pistorius, particularly after a February 28 interview on The Drew Marshall Show. From the story from the website

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.

The book is written from the point of view of Martin gaining awareness three years later, then spending more than a decade with full consciousness and a sophisticated mind, but trapped inside a body that simply won’t respond.

This has implications for, and will resonate with, people in many different situations which just to name a few, include:

  • People with communication deficiencies
  • People who have been or are continually medically misdiagnosed
  • People dealing with or having family members with degenerative diseases; everything from Multiple Sclerosis to Autism
  • People who work in any sector of the health care system
  • People who, though they are higher functioning, find themselves trapped in institutional situations with lesser functioning individuals
  • People who are a burden to their family and they or family members wish they would simply die
  • People who needed, or still need, just one person to believe in them
  • People who are aware of deficiencies in social awareness or information that is common to most others, and must work hard to compensate
  • People who can accomplish amazing things over incredible odds
Original cover (left) and current edition (right) of Ghost Boy

Original cover (left) and current edition (right) of Ghost Boy

Somewhere around 2012, Simon and Schuster published the original version of the book, later Nelson Books, a division of Thomas Nelson gave the book a second life, which created a larger marketing push on traditional and social media outlets.

There is definitely a faith element to the story, but it is very much in the background. I think this may figure into Thomas Nelson’s decision to issue the book under a different imprint. For Martin, the return to awareness included a sense that God was simply always there:

“He was real to me, a presence inside and around me that calmed me and reassured me . . . I spoke to God as I tried to make sense of what happened to me and asked Him to protect me from harm .  . . I talked to him endlessly because I knew we shared something important. I didn’t have proof that He existed but I believed in Him anyway because I knew He was real. God did the same for me. Unlike people, He didn’t need proof that I existed — He knew I did” [p.161].

The book is also very blunt. There are a couple of occurrences of graphic imagery, and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his caregivers is sometimes difficult to read, but it did not defeat him. His attitude; his resilience is remarkable.

Ghost Boy is written in 65 short chapters and doesn’t always follow a linear, chronological form. The story also only goes to 2009, though that year was certainly represents, so far, an almost unbelievable climax in Martin’s story.

It’s truly like no other book I’ve ever read.

Thanks to the Canadian division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing for supplying me with requested titles like this one.

September 30, 2011

Book Review: Close Enough To Hear God Breathe

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to hear Greg Paul speak at a conference west of Toronto.  Around the same time, my wife was part of a group that works with destitute and disadvantaged people who got to spend the day with Greg as he explained his ministry organization and answered questions.

Because I was familiar with what that organization, Sanctuary, does in downtown Toronto, I did not read God in the Alley or the Twenty Piece Shuffle, so I was unacquainted with Greg Paul the writer. I was more than pleasantly surprised, and I suppose it’s not too late to catch up on his backlist titles.

In Close Enough to Hear God Breathe (Thomas Nelson), Greg takes his own family story, and stories of the street people he has come to know and uses them as a motif for understanding God’s workings throughout history, and throughout our personal history as well.  Although the book is very autobiographical, I suspect there are elements of his family’s story which overlap on your own. 

The larger story, of which we are all a part, is looked at in four stages: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation and provides a structure for otherwise what might appear as random snapshots.

More than two-thirds of the way through, I began to ask, “Where have I seen this style before, where an author’s personal journey is so embedded in the presentation of a much larger picture?” Then I realized the answer: Philip Yancey.  There are great similarities between the two, and I believe, given my stated affection for the renown writer, that comparison can serve as my highest commendation for this book by Greg Paul.

~Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favorite bookseller from Thomas Nelson. 

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