2011 Memoirs Recommended books

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

Ghost Boy

Five words from the blurb: trapped, body, mute, control, extraordinary

Ghost Boy is probably the most inspiring book I’ve ever read. It is an autobiography explaining how the author regained the ability to communicate after being trapped inside his own body for a decade.

At the age of twelve, Martin Pistorius succumbed to a mysterious illness that left him in a coma. The doctors expected him to die, but after 4 years Martin began to regain consciousness. Unfortunately he was unable to control his movements and so couldn’t alert the people around him:

However much I tried to beg and plead, shout and scream, I couldn’t make them notice me. My mind was trapped inside a useless body, my arms and legs weren’t mine to control, and my voice was mute. I couldn’t make a sign or a sound to let anyone know I’d become aware again. I was invisible. The ghost boy.

Ghost Boy beautifully explains the frustration of being an invisible member of society. He longs to converse with people but, as everyone believes him to be unresponsive, Martin learns many secrets and has plenty of time to analyse the behaviour of those around him. This deep, extended period of thought means that he has incredible pyscological insight and I found many sections of the book profound.

The book also highlights the best and worst aspects of human nature. With passion and emotional insight, Martin describes the kindness displayed by certain members of staff; but also the terrible abuse he suffered at the hands of those who thought they could get away with it. Throughout everything, positivity oozes from the page. There is no sign of self pity, only an unflinching determination to succeed.

The small steps leading to Martin’s escape from his internal world were incredible to read and I loved seeing how his life developed once he regained the ability to communicate. Ghost Boy shows the importance of perseverance and maintaining hope. Reading about what Martin overcame and achieved makes you realise that nothing is impossible.

Highly recommended.


Note: I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library after seeing several articles in the media recently. You can read a brief version of Martin’s story here.


8 replies on “Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius”

threegoodrats, It is amazing! I really recommend reading the entire book, not just an edited podcast version. The things that Martin has overcome are almost unbelievable – and it is amazing how positive he is throughout it all. I hope you decide to give it a try.

I also heard about this story the other day. Incredible and also horrifying at the same time. Thanks for the review – I may have to check out the book as the story I read was very brief and I definitely wanted to know more.

Lucybird, Great news! The strange thing is that it isn’t sad at all – it is one of the most hope-filled books I’ve ever read! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Wow. I had not heard of this story before. He is so lucky to have regained his consciousness and some abilities- imagine how many people suffer through decades of being able to think but not move or speak… it reminds me of a book I read years ago called I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes- very sad and uplifting too, how poeple never give up hope to be able to interact once more with those they love.

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