Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review (Book) - A Child Called "It" by David Pelzer

"A Child Called "It" is 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 torturous, 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 and 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.

Through each struggle you'll find yourself enduring his pain, comforting his loneliness and fighting for his will to survive. This compelling story will awaken you to the truth about child abuse - and the ability we all have to make a difference." (back cover)

I pulled this book off the shelves at Bayshore Landing Cafe a couple weekends ago (I promise, not all of their books are this depressing) and haven't been able to bring myself to review it until now. I had heard of this book since I was a shelver - often either re-shelving the it, shelf-reading over it, or being asked for the book for a school list. Which leads me to my ultimate question, how can this possibly be required reading for anyone school-aged? I certainly see how it can make youth appreciative for what they are (most likely) lucky enough to have.

I made it through the entire book in one sitting - that's something I haven't been able to accomplish with a book in quite some time. However, I wouldn't recommend subjecting yourself to this book's contents in one sitting. Then again, I can also imagine the story being so appalling that if you put the book down, you wouldn't want to subject yourself to another sitting of [reading about] this horror. Overall, I wouldn't recommend the book, as I don't know of anyone who would want to read about such terrible acts. There were times when I would have torn up the book or thrown it across the room or cursed or said other inappropriate things (specifically "grow a pair" to the gutless father) had the book been my own. If you do choose to subject yourself to the book and its contents, I wholeheartedly hope you find a new appreciation for your mother and the life you have.

Just because I don't recommend the book doesn't mean I disliked the writing. Obviously, if the book was written well enough to keep me on a couch for the entire story, that's saying something.

There are many child abuse resources at the end of the book. Perspectives on child abuse from Dave Pelzer and other "characters" from the story, resources/contact information for help, an "About the Author" section, and information on how to contact Dave, should you wish to have him speak at a seminar or school assembly.

I don't understand how Mr. Pelzer could have overcome what he experienced during his childhood and learn to trust a woman enough to marry her and have a child of his own, but congratulations to him. I don't doubt that his experiences also make him capable of being the world's best father. Maybe I'll have to read his two sequels to find out what happens, should they ever pass by Bayshore's shelves.

A Child Called "It" can be found at Amazon here.

My Rating:


  1. I remember reading this and 'enjoying' it if thats the right word. What he went through was absolutely horrific. For me though, the quality of the writing perhaps meant that that the horror of it wasn't conveyed as well as perhaps someone else might have. This meant that whilst i was affected by the horror of it, I could still distance myself enough to really give it some thought.

    I think that school age children could cope with it. Perhaps not primary school children, but I think High school kids could.

  2. I believe they probably could handle it, but I was just saying I don't think they should be forced to read it.

  3. Wow! That's amazing! I've never heard of this story before and I don't know if I'd have the will power to sit through the entire book. But your review was great and provided a lot of insight into his experience. I'm just so glad to hear he came out okay.


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