Book Review: A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer

One Child's Courage to Survive

A Child Called It cover

One of the worst child abuse cases in California's history came to an end on March 5, 1973. when Dave Pelzer entered foster care. Dave begins his incredible story as an abused child with his rescue in part one of a series, A Child Called "It". Calling this book a page-turner" doesn't do it justice. Easy to read, but difficult to comprehend how any mother could treat her child this way.

Horrific Abuse

Besides being horribly beaten, Dave was forced to eat his own vomit, swallow soap, ammonia, and Clorox. This was just the beginning of his mother's "games." Dave's childhood wasn't always a nightmare. There were the "good years" in the beginning and Dave devotes a chapter describing the feelings of warmth and safety provided by his mother. By the age of 4 these feelings were replaced with fear, starvation and lowliness.

"I was the King"

"I" statements are used a lot in A Child Called "It" as Dave discovers the power he felt when he stalled his mother from burning him on the stove and "won." Trying to find food, making plans, and succeeding with the prize of eating frozen dinners from his family's deep freeze, Dave was proud of his accomplishments and used the statement, "I was the king." This goes to show the level of neglect he endured to consider frozen dinners to be a prize and hiding in the family's garage to gobble them up. These are less than kingly accommodations.

A Child Called "It" doesn't leave the reader empty as we know that the child survived this abuse. We begin with the rescue and then are led through the happy times, and then into the abuse.

The book is written from the perspective of a child. It is eye-opening to see how Dave perceived the treatment of his mother, as she didn't treat Dave's other brothers this way, and how the abuse impacted his self-worth. Yet, Dave still had this incredible will to not only survive, but to rise above it all.

About the Author

Dave Pelzer entered foster care at the age of 12 due to the severe abuse he endured at the hand of his alcoholic mother. The abuse became so terrible that she actually started referring to Dave as "The Boy," instead of a child, her son, or Dave. At the age of 18 Dave aged out of the foster care system and joined the U.S. Air Force.

Dave has won many awards and personal commendations from Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. In 1993, Dave was honored as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans. In 1994, he became one of the only United State's citizens to be awarded as the Outstanding Young Persons of the World, for his efforts in teaching about child abuse and it's prevention. Dave is also the author of The Lost Boy, A Man Named Dave, The Privilege of Youth, Help Yourself, and Help Yourself for Teens.

Today Dave is a husband and a father and resides in Rancho Mirage, California.

More Information

A Child Called "It" is Dave's first book.

You can find a section entitled "Perspectives on Child Abuse" at the end of the book where different key players in this case give their insight or feelings on Dave's abuse as it was unfolding before their eyes. A section with numbers to call for more information on child abuse is also included.

(Published by: Health Communications, Inc., Originally published by Omaha Press Pub. Co., 1993.
ISBN 1-55874-366-9)