Book Review | A Child Called It Written By Dave Pelzer

Dave Pelzer’s A Child Called It is a book I came across years ago and found captivating from start to finish. There isn’t a book that has played on my emotions like this one. The story is tragic yet provides an inspiring hope to all people.

Pelzer weaves a horrifying tale of abuse, neglect, and torture he undergoes as a child at the hands of his psychotic mother. What is most appalling about this book lays behind the truth of the story.  Dave Pelzer’s entire tale comes together from the real-life experiences of the author. The bravery shown by one little boy left me speechless.

The book begins when Dave is a tiny child. If I am not mistaken, he is around the age of four or five. He is young, naïve, and impressionable. The author lives with his parents and siblings in a modest home in Dale City, California. Everything starts off pretty well. Life is normal, humble, and happy. He does not have any complaints. Dave loves his mother deeply and admires his firefighter father.

The story turns dark quickly. It goes from fun-filled days of going to museums, playing at parks, and genuinely enjoying life. Dave’s mother is hands-on, pleasant, and affectionate. These are happy memories for the author; however, it escalates. The book is not about an average normal family. The parents are drunks who get shit-faced over the weekends. There is no longer a nurturing provider to rely upon and the mother’s true nature has taken over. There is constant yelling, fighting, and upheaval. Then Dave becomes his mother’s target. She blames him for being a “bad boy” and the abuse gradually becomes something commonplace.

The abuse in the story is all over the place. Starvation is number one at the forefront of the horror show this book is. Dave’s mother basically never feeds him. He is forced to eat leftover dinner scraps from his siblings if he is lucky. This leads to a fight for survival by digging through trashcans, begging neighbors, and stealing student’s lunches at school. He is physically beaten, worked to death, starved, and mentally brought down at every turn. The mother designs these twisted methods of torture through “games” that involve toxic chemicals, being burned, and nearly killed.

Dave bears this all while witnessing his siblings being treated differently. They do not face the mother’s scorn. All of them are well-fed, have their needs met, and receive love from their parents while their brother is not even allowed to sleep inside the house in a proper bed. The basement is Dave’s home. He sleeps on a cot without pillows and blankets. It is often cold and difficult for him to deal with.

I think what pisses me off the most about the author’s story is his father. All the abuse comes from the mother; however, the father does nothing to stop it. He tries to stick up for his young child but does not take enough of a stand. He is always fighting with his wife over the treatment Dave receives but never wins. The mother always gets her way because Dave’s father always ends up backing down.

The entire book is filled with tragedy and stomach turning horror at the depravity a little boy goes through but there is also something very prominent that begins to show itself. The boy is brave, courageous, and does not give a you know what. Naturally, Dave ends up hating the very breathe his mother takes and develops a huge backbone. Through all the hardship he strengthens himself with plans for the future and makes it his mission to survive. Dave wants nothing more but to grow up and create a good life for himself where he is happy and content. It is quite inspiring!


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.



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32 thoughts on “Book Review | A Child Called It Written By Dave Pelzer

  1. You write great reviews. As far as this book is concerned, being a victim of abuse myself, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stomach it. I’ve seen abuse but nothing like what you just described. It’s terrifying and he has a lot of grit to get past it all and move on. I know those scars. They take a very very long time to heal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave’s experiences infuriated me, to the point I wanted to atomize that bitch. She is, however, not uncommon, in the panorama of parents, worldwide. I guess that’s why I have stuck with working on behalf of abused and neglected children, all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! This was an amazing review! I want to read it however I’m not sure I’d get through it. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and somewhat neglect, I’m not sure my heart could take such abuse. It’s hard when you’ve gone through something similar and even harder that you know how Dave feels that no one was there for him. I use to wish school was overnight so I only had to go home on the weekends but no such luck. I did have one teacher who stuck with me and we are great friends today. I love her and call her my hero. Anyway sorry for that but that’s for the recommendation. I think I will try to read it. ~SaVette

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read this book when I was only about twelve or thirteen, needless to say, it made an impression on me. I hated Dave’s father too, he was a gutless P.O.S. I never finished the sequel (although I started it shortly after I completed the first one,) have you read it?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WOW, just reading this review is making my blood boil. Thanks for sharing. I do not think I could read this book as I would get so upset and angry. I love how this young man endured this abuse and was able to tell his story through this book. I applaud his courage and will to survive, such an inspirational story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, it’s horrible what this kid went through. Simply evil and his mother is a monster. But, he survived and he got through it. That is truly inspiring.

    Solid review!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. My friend has been pushing me to read this book and the other one for years. And I can’t bring myself to do it. It’s all so depressingly messed up. Everything that he was put through and how people didn’t really step up and help him. This was a very wonderful review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Honestly, how could anyone blame your feelings about not reading it. No doubt it is a wrenching story and yes very messed up what he goes through. You really hit home on the fact NOBODY helps him out. Not teachers, neighbors, cps, or family. Very sad. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: A Child Called It By Dave Pelzer – The Militant Negro™

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