Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: Martin Pistorius' Ghost Boy

Ghost Boy is probably one of the most compelling novels that I have read. It's a miracle to say the least of the recovery of Martin Pistorius. If you're someone who has also be wary about those with special needs, or you're someone who works with them a lot, then this book is something you should read. The treatment and the way people perceive those who may need more help than others is really shocking and sad. Then there are others who seem to have the realization that though our functioning might be different many can still feel on some level what even those not in special care do.

Summary: Martin Pistorius was a normal twelve year old boy until his health took a decline. He loved playing with legos, running around, and respected his parents. He find himself only a year later, immobilized, unable to speak, and not remembering anything before he slipped away. For him it's as if he is just now coming to life again. A decade of his life will be spent inside this shell. He has emotions, he can understand what others are saying, and can feel the pain of how people treat him for his handicaps. It isn't a nurse, Virna, spends a lot of time with him that she realizes that Pistorius is more aware of what others are saying to him than they always have believed.

Characters: The characters consist of mainly Martin and his family as they deal with the change that would forever set their lives on a different course. As for his family I think Martin does a great deal to really try to understand why they reacted as they did. He doesn't mention his brother, David, as much in the book, and he seems to be the one least involved. Kim his sister is much more pivotal to a lot of the development of the story, and being apart of her brother's journey back to recovery. His mom and dad were the two most interesting people in how they had two different reactions to their son falling ill. His mom became shut off and recluse from the situation. Martin doesn't seem angry or bitter about this, and goes through a great deal of explaining to go over his mom's reasoning for what she did, and how he felt the reaction was normal. His dad was the only one who stuck by his son, and had any hope that they would one day at least have a son who could they communicate with again. If it wasn't for Virna though, Martin might still be in out of care centers, that sometimes were horrific, and he would have no way to still talk to people. It was her discovery of hos his eyes moved in relation to what she was saying that provided the first step to discovering a way he could communicate as a physically disabled mute. He can't write because his hands are unsteady nor walk.

Writing: The writing style is all from the perspective of Martin. I think though Martin currently can talk that he gives himself a prominent voice through his writing. You can tell his pain of what he has lived through and the hope he has in his future. The book also tries to understand others. I like how Martin's story is real, so it's not like he can this is exactly why this person did this, or that. He can only guess why, but he does capture even the pain of others through his own writing.

Plot: I get chills when I still think of the story. It's remarkable sometimes what human's can endure and live through. I like how Martin makes us feel as if he is anyone we could talk to. He is a Christian, and you can tell his faith at times was the only reason he was surviving through this without just giving up. He also gets real though and you hear his frustration through curse words, and his honesty. I like how real Martin feels to the reader. A lot of people write memoirs, but a key to one being a good one is whether the person can resonate with the reader.

I hope people don't use this book as a way to make themselves feel better. Like I've heard people it say it reminded them to be thankful for their health, or that their lives could always be worse. I think this is just a terrible idea to take away from the book. I don't think Martin intends for his story to be used to make you feel better about your life that you feel is a bit underwhelming. Instead Martin's story read to me as a testament of what humans are capable of going through, and that we shouldn't be so quick to make assumptions about those who do have special needs. I've had special education teachers tell me that people are less likely to substitute for them because people don't want to be in special education classes with the students, and I've saw how people talk to them even if they are older. Hopefully for those who feel they aren't comfortable around people who have those differences this will open their eyes that they are a lot more complex than they are giving them credit for. I hope instead that Martin's life is an inspiration to those feeling that things are impossible no matter what their situation.

Rating 9.5 of 10.

This book was provided by Booksneeze in exchange for a review.

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