Hellllo readers, going to whack a trigger warning in right here. This book details the abusive relationships throughout David Pelzer’s childhood. Just to be safe. I read this book back when I was at school, but recently when I was packing all my stuff to move (more on this soon) I found the third in the series and thought it might be nice to do a series of reviews – so the first is today! Enjoy (if that’s the right word?!)
A harrowing, yet inspiring true story of a young boy’s abusive childhood, from internationally bestselling author Dave Pelzer.
Dave Pelzer was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother – a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games. She no longer considered Dave a son, but a slave; no longer a boy, but an ‘it’.
His bed was an old army cot in the basement, his clothes were torn and unwashed, and when he was allowed the luxury of food it was scraps from the dog’s bowl. The outside world knew nothing of the nightmare played out behind closed doors. But throughout Dave kept alive dreams of finding a family to love him. This book covers the early years of his life and is an affecting and inspirational book of the horrors of child abuse and the steadfast determination of one child to survive.
A Child Called It written by Dave Pelzer shows the very darkest corners of child abuse, allowing readers a viewing into the terrifying life of a young boy cut off from society whilst being secretly continually abused by his alcoholic mother. Pelzer who lived through a very difficult and unstable life in a town in California during the 70’s explains his tortuous years as a young child. Struggling to survive starvation, cuts, bruises and worse Dave kept himself alive by dreaming of a new family – one that would love and support him.
Throughout the book Dave tells of events where his Mother locked him in bathrooms filled with cleaning chemicals leaving him no option but inhale the poisonous fumes. Making him sleep in the basement with very little to sleep on, stabbing him and refusing to take him to hospital, eventually David’s mum refused to call him David and instead called him “it” – he really was nothing to her.
I found the book a really upsetting and a really terrible read emotionally – the problem was however that it was a little poorly written.. It is very repetitive and at times the structure is very sequenced. Almost like a shopping list – “she did this, and then she said this, I starved, but that didn’t matter she then did this.” The sentences are very short and to the point and Pelzer basically states what happens rather than describing it to us and it does purely revolve around the punishments, Dave and his mother. There are no subplots to distract or to lessen the blows – to a point I understand this but it does create a very samey, monotonous tale. (Although utterly devastating also.)
Since I read the book there’s been a lot of confusion around the improbability of David’s statements. When I read the book I was quite young and so I just kind of read and absorbed it all but recently a few things have come to light.
The father and the brother towards the beginning of the book seem to sympathise with Dave but later during the book they turn and treat him also like a slave.
Many have commented on Dave’s ability to survive the attacks that are described – inhaling bleach, having his arm burnt on a stove, stabbed in the stomach and strangled are only a few of the terrifying attacks that are described. I don’t know about this one the next point also goes against this.
Many articles have been written that dispute the claims and state quotes from the family who said Dave was a difficult child but many of the events were over-exaggerated.
So what did I think? I definitely enjoyed (if that’s the right word) this book, but I think there are wobbles there. It definitely opened my eyes to a different type of reading experience and genre and I did end up reading all three in the series. Have you read any of the books? Do you have any thoughts please let me know and I’ll review the second in the series soon!
2 thoughts on “A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer”
I have only read The Lost Boy and I was truly shocked by it. I have the other two books though yet to read it. I get what you mean about the writing since I noted the same with his other books. Definitely a heartbreaking story though.
I remember reading this in high school and it has always stuck with me — I never read any of the sequels. I never occurred to me that the truth may not be…as prominent as I assumed when younger. I may need to look into this more.