Summary and book reviews of A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

A Child Called It

One Child's Courage to Survive

By Dave Pelzer

A Child Called It
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  • Hardcover: Oct 1999,
    184 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 1995,
    184 pages.

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Book Summary

This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it."

Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive--dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.

Chapter 6: While Father Is Away

After the knife incident, Father spent less and less time at home and more at work. He made excuses to the family, but I didn't believe him. I often shivered with fear as I sat in the garage, hoping for some reason he might not leave. In spite of all that had happened, I still felt Father was my protector. When he was home, Mother only did about half the things to me that she did when he was gone.

When Father was home, it became his habit to help me with the evening dishes. Father washed and I dried. While we worked, we talked softly so neither Mother nor the other boys could hear us. Sometimes, several minutes would pass without us talking. We wanted to make sure the coast was clear.

Father always broke the ice. "How ya doing, Tiger?" he would say. Hearing the old name that Father used when I was a little boy always brought a smile to my face. "I'm OK," I would answer. "Did you have anything to eat today?" he often asked. I usually ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Library Journal

This autobiographical account charts the abuse of a young boy as his alcoholic mother first isolates him from the rest of the family; then torments him; and finally nearly kills him through starvation, poisoning, and one dramatic stabbing. Pelzer's portrayal of domestic tyranny and eventual escape is unforgettable, but falls short of providing understanding of extreme abuse or how he made his journey from "Victim to Victor." It takes some work to get past the poor writing and the self-aggrandizing back matter, but the book tries fervently to provide a much-needed perspective. One of the greater obstacles to healing for males is admitting that they have been victims, especially if their perpetrator is a woman. This author has overcome that obstacle and succeeded in life by such masculine norms as joining the Air Force and receiving awards for his volunteerism. However, while personal accounts of child maltreatment provide crucial information about the realities of childhood, youngsters need insight and hope in order to digest the raw material of abuse.

Reader Reviews
Emily

I loved it!
I cried so many times, I read this book over and over again. It's so sad but it's inspiring.

Al

Good
Great read. Highly suggest it. Couldn't set the book down once I picked it up.

kitty

sad
I read the entire book in 2 days it was so hard to put down and I cried about 10 times :(

Bailey Renee

OMG 3
AWESOMEE book. AWESOME. it was soo sad and showed me you should never take your life for granted.. ever. Everyone should read this book. Yes, it's sad... but it shows you how some peoples life are. I just want to ask the parents WHY. WHY the heck ...   Read More

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