Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Book Review - Ghost Boy, by Martin Pistorius

Martin Pistorius was an active little boy, until the day his body began to inexplicably deteriorate. Within 18 months, Martin was completely non-responsive, spending his days strapped into his wheelchair, staring into nothingness. As far as his parents were concerned, their vibrant child was gone forever. And for four years, he seemed to be. But suddenly, Martin started to wake up. He became aware of the world and the people around him, but with no physical functions at his disposal, he had no way to communicate. He spent 10 years trapped in his physical silence, until one caregiver finally looked into his eyes, and realized he was looking back at her.

Martin's story is inspiring, captivating, disturbing, and nothing short of amazing. The opening chapters caught my attention with Martin's beautiful writing and imagery. But I quickly found myself checking the cover to confirm that this was an autobiography. How could someone who had been trapped in a vegetative state, who had been simply left to die, be writing this book? I'm always conflicted when autobiographies contain photos - it can become a little self indulgent - but you need these photos. You need to see where Martin started, how much he deteriorated, and how far his journey has taken him.

I read this in December, and throughout the month, we had the opportunity to sing in several seniors and longterm care homes. We saw many patients who looked similar to Martin in his worst days. I've always been conscious of smiling and singing to each patient with love, but this season, after reading Martin's story, my actions changed. I lingered a little longer on those who didn't seem to respond immediately. I made a point of looking into their eyes, and making sure they knew, "I see you." Sometimes I would get a flicker, most times not. But if Martin's story teaches us anything, it's to pay attention to each and every person. It's a reminder that souls live even when bodies fail.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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