A Child Called ‘It’

Author: Dave Pelzer
Series: Dave Pelzer Trilogy, Book 1
Publisher: Orion
Star Rating: 2/5
Date Read: May 28th, 2014
Read Count: 1
A Child Called ‘It’ is the story of child abuse survivor, Dave Pelzer. It is a grim and horrific read that makes you sick to visualize what’s occurring. It is not without hope, as we find in the opening chapter how Dave escapes the torment he has suffered for eight years. But it seems to be without credibility.

As has been stated in reviews before mine, this book is not particularly well written. If it was fiction, you would discount it straight away. But the thing is, we’re told it’s not fiction. It is, supposedly, an autobiographical memoir of Dave’s life between the ages of four and twelve. It was at the age of four that Dave’s perfect life started to crumble. Almost overnight his mother, a loving and caring woman who loved her family, became an evil monster to only one of her sons, Dave. His other brothers (in total by the end of the book there were four) did not suffer the same treatment as Dave, which included not being fed, being hit and punched, being excluded from all family activities, being gassed, being forced to lie in a freezing cold bath for hours, and even being stabbed by his mother, who often threatened to kill him. How did this occur? How can a mother love her four other sons – and not this one? This woman treated her dogs better than she treated Dave and we have no reason as to why. Also, why was Dave the only child taken away from her? Why did this torment go on so long without anyone noticing? And what kind of father leaves and doesn’t take the abused son with him?

I’m not sure if the book was to show the failings of people but even though child abuse was not something discussed in the 1970s, surely this case, apparently the third worst in California, would have 1) gone through the courts and 2) prompted the intervention of SOMEBODY before the abuse had continued for EIGHT YEARS. This guy should have been dead, if even half of what he says occurs is true. It is hard for me to believe that anyone could have suffered this kind of abuse for so long. Also, how many people do you know who can perfectly recall their childhood years, particularly around the ages of four? I understand abuse is traumatizing and may very well indeed be haunting and live in the memory that way, but some things are described in detail, almost too much, and other things glossed over. I guess it’s hard for me to say, as I am not a victim of abuse, but I’m 20 and I can’t remember much from that age.

It seems hard to authenticate the story and easy to wonder if the next six books he wrote (two as part of his ‘My Story’ trilogy) are not just him exploiting a terrible situation. It is of course very possible the abuse occurred but the extent of which makes me wonder, as does the reliability of the witnesses. There is a note in the back from one of the teachers who taught Dave at the age at which he suffered the abuse. It is very brief and doesn’t really go into any circumstances, it just kind of says ‘yeah I was his teacher and I say it happened’. He also says he thought something was wrong – but he did nothing! Teachers have a duty of care to the children in their classroom but it seems as if everyone just ignored Dave. Were teachers that bad back then?

I am very reluctant now to read the remaining books in the trilogy, despite the fact that they are in the pile of tbr books at home. I know I’ve said that this year my goal is to finish off series and trilogies… but this has put a bad taste in my mouth and I might need to leave it for a while. The only possibility I hope for is that maybe the next two books shed some light on why things happened.





  1. Pingback: Discussion: When Authors Are Less Than Truthful | Crash My Book Party

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