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Dave Pelzer #1

A Child Called "It"

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Also see: Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE]
ACE #1

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.

184 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1995

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About the author

Dave Pelzer

61 books2,879 followers
An author best known for his 1995 memoir of childhood abuse, A Child Called It.

At the age of 12, Dave was removed from an abusive home and placed in a series of foster homes. In 1979, he joined the Air Force and later became an author of memoirs and self-improvement books.


August 2017 - We are very excited to announce that writer/producer David Goldblum of Conscious Contact Productions has acquired the film rights to Dave Pelzer's, #1 New York Times bestselling book, A Child Called “IT” which was on the New York Times Best Sellers List for a record breaking six years. Tamlin Hall, whose film Holden On has won multiple awards around the country is attached to direct. Dave Pelzer is adapting the screenplay alongside Goldblum and Hall. The movie is in pre-production, with production set to begin in Spring 2018. A-List talent are already circling the project. Be sure and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates. https://www.facebook.com/AChildCalled....

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,837 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
385 reviews526 followers
March 4, 2010
This book is very likely made up from start to finish. The events in it read like Pelzer imagined the worst child abuse possible and then said, "And it all happened to me!" Yeah, right. His brother and grandmother said in an interview that it was all rubbish, too, which casts more doubt upon the whole thing. Pelzer also bought his own book in bulk so the sales numbers would put it on the bestseller list -- he just doesn't have a whole lot of credibility. Perhaps worse than the fact that Pelzer is, shall we say, probably somewhat fluid with the truth, is the fact that he's a dreadful writer. I no longer own the book (didn't put it through a shredder, like I did with "A Million Little Pieces," but I got rid of it as quickly as I could), so I can't list any examples here, but I do recall that I've seen better writing in sixth-grade themes.


After deleting I don't know how many comments calling me names, I'm adding this note, because it will save both me and a bunch of other people from wasting time: I'll delete any comments that I consider abusive or that I think constitute ad hominem arguments, so do keep that in mind if you're thinking about composing a long screed. Thanks.
Profile Image for Eric.
118 reviews49 followers
March 10, 2008
this book was the 'hostel', or 'saw IV' of memoirs. i don't really know why i read it. it was free, first of all. and, i guess like any normal human being, i cannot look away from a trainwreck.

'a child called it' is not very well written. you walk away with more questions than you do answers. you don't really learn anything. you do, however, come away with having read some very disturbing and disgusting passages that describe in detail a case of horrendous child abuse. i'm not exactly sure what the book's intention is. it doesn't work very well as a memoir. there is no advice that would put this in any sort of self-help category. and if its intention is to provide hope to victim's of abuse, i don't know what the take-away is other than 'if i lived through this, you can live through just about anything'.

i really don't know what to make of this book, as a piece of literary work. it's not much of one -- i don't know if it ever set out to be one. you get little, if any, insight into the dynamics of the brothers. you read one moment that the narrator hates his father, then loves his father, then hates his father. you read that the narrator cannot remember the color of his mother's hair or eyes, yet he describes in great detail many settings, images, etc. you really don't get any insight into the mother's descent into mental illness and alcoholism. one day she's the best, most loving mother in the world, the next she is straight out of a bosch painting. you get a feeling that pelzer is being very selective with what he shares with us. characters are never anything but inherently good or inherently evil. he's either being abused horribly or being embraced lovingly. there seems to be very little grey area in pelzer's book. the grey area is exactly what needs to be illuminated in a book about abuse. we learn far more from a book about becoming an alcoholic than we do from a book about being a drunk. the latter is voyeuristic and exploitive, the former can illuminate and possibly save lives.

there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the accuracy of this book. i can't speak to that. there is a blurb about the book being up for the pulitzer at some point -- pelzer submitted it himself, which anyone can do. details like this do nothing but add an aura of snake oil -- the dime-store self-help book jacket design doesn't help matters.

the last thing i'd want to do is come down on a dude who's lived through the type of hellish abuse described here. even if his descriptions were 1/10th true, it would still be more than any human being should have to endure. i am not claiming that this guy did not suffer, but we need more from books than a simple retelling of events. we get that in the newspaper every morning.
Profile Image for TK421.
561 reviews266 followers
December 4, 2013
This book was horrible. Period. A waste of my time. You see, what really pisses me off with this book is this: I have known kids that have come from horribly abusive situations that are more genuine than Pelzer is in his "memoir."

The stories of his life in this book contradict one another, are extremely over-the-top and, dare I say, fabricated some. Now, before anyone wants to crucify me, look at the facts:

His family members were interviewed and stated that this was pure fantasy. (I can concede that the family members may have lied.)

He bought numerous copies of his own book to inflate sales records so that the book would have a better chance at getting on bestseller lists. (Again, I can concede that he was only helping his writing along by wanting his book to be seen by a greater audience.)

However, and here is the kicker for me, if this story is true, then shouldn't just writing it and getting the story told redemption enough for Pelzer?

A story of this magnitude should be told, there's no doubt about that. But it should be told with grace and humility. Pelzer should have approached this book as an avatar to the thousands of other kids out there that don't have a voice. Instead, Pelzer grandstands and makes the issue of child abuse seem like a sensationalistic piece of family trivia.

Very disappointing.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews32 followers
January 8, 2022
A Child Called "It" (Dave Pelzer #1), Dave Pelzer

David James "Dave" Pelzer (born December 29, 1960 in San Francisco, California) is an American author, of several autobiographical and self-help books. He is best known for his 1995 memoir of childhood abuse, A Child Called "It".

It is the story of the early years of a boy's life, and a real and moving memory. It is Dave Pelzer's childhood, under torture and brutal starvation by his mother (who was unstable and constantly intoxicated). From the mother's point of view, her son was no longer her beloved child, he was a slave, nor a boy, but "nothing" and that was "It".

The boy's bed, or old military blanket, was in the basement. His clothes were torn and frail. If the mother allowed him to eat, he would eat only the leftovers in the dog foods. "David" dreamed of finding a family, to love him and consider him their child. He endured years of struggle, deprivation and despair, to fulfill his dreams, and to leave something of himself in this world. ...

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «کودکی به نام هیچ»؛ «بچه‌ ای که صداش می‌کردند «اوهوی!»»؛ «سرگذشت پسری که میخواست زنده بماند»؛ «داستان زندگی من»؛ نویسنده دیو پلزر؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه اکتبر سال2004میلادی

عنوان: کودکی به نام هیچ؛ نویسنده: دیو پلزر؛ مترجم: حمید خادمی؛ تهران، معانی، سال1381؛ در141ص، مصور؛ عنوانهای دیگر: سرگذشت پسری که میخواست زنده بماند؛ کودکی به نام «هیچ»؛ موضوع کودکان آزار دیده؛ داستان دیوید جی پلزر از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

عنوان: بچه‌ ای که صداش می‌کردند «اوهوی!»؛ نویسنده: دیو پلزر؛ مترجم: امیرابراهیم جلالیان؛ تهران، آفرینگان، سال1383؛ در141ص، مصور؛

عنوان: سرگذشت پسری که میخواست زنده بماند؛ کودکی به نام «هیچ»؛ چاپ دوم سال1393؛ شابک9789647694155؛

عنوان: داستان زندگی من؛ مترجم: مهشید احمد پناه؛ اصفهان، مهرافروز، سال1386؛ در540ص؛ شابک9789649125435؛

داستان سالهای آغازین زندگی پسرکی، و یادمانی واقعی، و تاثرآور است؛ داستان اراده ای برای زنده ماندن؛ و کودکانگی «دیوید پلرز» است، در زیر شكنجه‌ ها، و گرسنگی دادن‌های وحشیانه مادرش (كه بی‌ ثبات و دائم‌ الخمر بود)؛ از نظر مادر، پسرش دیگر نه فرزند دلبند او، كه یک برده بود، و نه پسر بچه، بلكه «هیچ» بود، و بس؛ بستر پسرک، یا همان پتوی سربازی کهنه، در زیرزمین خانه، قرار داشت؛ لباس‌هایش پاره، و بویناک بودند؛ اگر مادر اجازه می‌داد، تا غذایی بخورد، تنها تكه‌ های باقیمانده در ظرف سگ‌ها را، می‌خورد؛ «دیوید»، رویای یافتن خانواده‌ ای را داشت، تا او را دوست بدارند، و فرزند خویش بشمارند؛ او سال‌ها كشمكش، محرومیت، و نومیدی را تاب آورد، تا رویاهایش را، برآورده سازد، و چیزی از خود در این جهان، به یادگار بگذارد؛ ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 22/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 17/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Briynne.
614 reviews56 followers
July 19, 2007
Easily the most terrifying book I've ever read. I think I had literally repressed the memory of it, until I randomly happened across the title this week.

I experienced this book in a fairly odd way, during a week-long cheerleading camp my sophomore year of high school. My coach was reading it and somehow ended up reading the entire book aloud to my squad during breaks and at night. Once she started, we were all addicted and spent every free moment listening with rapt and horrified attention.

I remember with almost painful clarity the way in which we sat at her feet listening to this story of a boy who endured a long childhood of astonishing, sadistic abuse at the hands of his mother. Girls were crying for long stretches, and not being a crier myself, I listened in a sort of shell-shocked, wide-eyed paralysis. After every single part of the reading, I was convinced it couldn't get worse, that she couldn't possibly do anything worse to that little boy. And every single time I was wrong.

I'm not sure I would actually recommend this book or not. It is good - very good - but reads with the sort of harrowing inhumanity of a Holocaust memoir. Not light reading, and not a feel-good "I survived the odds" story. It kind of just makes you want to go home and tell your parents that you love them, and then bawl your eyes out.
Profile Image for Kohei.
25 reviews
March 25, 2008
A Child Called "It" HCI, 1995 $9.95
By Dave Pelzer ISBN 1558743669
One very common issue that goes around in our world is child abuse, it happens everywhere and it is something that is horrible and cannot be stopped. Dave Pelzer, the author of the autobiographical book, A Child Called It, shows the very dark corners of child abuse by viewing to the readers his horrific life as a young boy living with his mother that constantly abused him.
Dave Pelzer, who lived with his unstable, disturbed, alcoholic mother in a town in California during the early 70's, explains his story about his torturous unforgettable years as a young boy. Throughout the story, he does his best to survive from his mother and tries to stay alive from the pain of hunger, bruises and cuts he receives. The only thing that keeps him alive are his dreams, wanting a happy and safe family, and also being someone.
It’s terrifying to think after reading this that, this really had happened to someone, it isn’t fake. This made me say to myself, “wow, life can be so messed up, but you can survive even the most horrible things, as long as you follow your dream, and keep it with you as close as possible.” I believe this is the message, Dave Pelzer is trying to reach out, not only to the people who get abused consistently, but also to those who suffer a great deal of pain from something terrible everyday. Once you have read the last word of the story, and closed the book, you will definitely know that this book has just changed your life, and your perspective of issues like these around the world, trust me, that is a fact.
Profile Image for Maria Elmvang.
Author 2 books100 followers
July 6, 2007
I did not like this book. But that's okay. You're not supposed to like it. It's a horrible, horrible book. A trainwreck of a book. I wanted to look away, but just couldn't. I know it's the first part in a trilogy, but I doubt I'm going to read the other two books. It was too, too depressing.

Actually, the person I got most angry with was the father. The mother was obviously sick and needed help. There's no other explanation for the awful things she subjected her son to. But what's the father's excuse? He just stood by and did nothing? No, that's not true - he stood by and did nothing... and THEN he abandoned the family. I don't get it. Nowhere in the book was it stated that he seemed afraid of his wife, so why did he allow her to treat their son so horribly? You don't just stand by and let your SO practically kill your son, you just don't!

There were two things I would have liked to know: 1) What made David different from the rest of his brothers? Why was he the one who was treated so horribly? If his mother had had some kind of reason, just something that set him apart, it would at least be part of an explanation even if it's no excuse, but it seemed totally random. I guess it was... after all, sick people often don't need reasons for doing as they do. 2) What happened to his mother afterwards? Did she get some kind of help? Were her other boys taken away from her too? The book ended in a cliff-hanger fashion which annoyed me. Too many loose ends.

I don't recommend it. Most of you would never treat a child like that anyway, and if you would, no amount of reading about it would change your opinion that you're in the 'right'. The only time I would encourage reading it is if you know somebody you fear may be subjected to child abuse, or if you want to be convinced that you should become a foster parent.
Profile Image for `. kateelynn *.
4 reviews12 followers
April 8, 2008
Oh my god, what can I possibly say about this book? When I first started reading this book last year, I was just so hooked to it and I just wanted to know everything about this book. It was all about this author's childhood gone horrible with the extreme abuse, the torture and suffering. I really couldn't believe my eyes, the author described like, everything he went through, all the pain he had to go through, how he felt and everything. I could really understand how he felt but one thing about this book I don't get at all is how his own mother transformed from a loving mother to a nightmarish, abusive mother so quickly. I mean, the author was only, like a little boy when his mother started abusing him.

This book is extremely emotional and can make you feel so bad for the author and even cry so. This book was all about the author's childhood and how he survived through such abuse, starvation, and neglect. This also showed how bad things happen to good people - the author's own father didn't even help out at all - he was once a fun, loving fireman, turned into an alcoholic, carless father.

The only way for the author to get help was through school but the only thing that kept him from telling the school the truth was his fear of his mother going after him and make his life last through hell forever; even though the school sort of already knew, from all the bruises on him, him stealing the children's food because of hunger, from his mother starving the author and how he constantly uses identical/unreasonable lies about his bruises and wounds. He was pratically stabbed in the belly and had to go through such pain. His faith and hope kept him going & he never let his mother win this sick game.

In the end, he told the school the truth and he was finally taken out of the horrible home, with the abusive mother, two brothers that weren't treated horribly at all and the careless, alcoholic father - and put into a much better home - foster home. I loved this first book so much that I even continued on to the next book!
A lot of thanks goes to my teacher, for lending me the books - it's one of my most favorites!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
4,619 reviews177 followers
June 2, 2008
I've sat with this book on my desk for a couple weeks, unable to decide what I would write for a review. I'm wholly torn between this being one of my most-asked-for and least-favorite-ever titles. I wish the amount of times I heard "this was the first book I liked" (and the amount of times it's been billed/stolen from the library) corresponded to its quality, but I truly found it very short on redeeming qualities. Eric's Goodreads review says pretty much what I would say.

The writing was cliched and the "plot" moved along by way of "one day," "one Sunday," or "later." There was never any explanation attempted for the mother's instant transformation from idyllic homemaker to savage abuser (unless you are supposed to infer that it's alcohol's fault, in which case, talk a little about alcoholism). There is absolutely no process of recovery or explanation or psychological background, and the book leaves huge questions open, saying "Please understand that many of your questions will be answered in the next two books in the trilogy series." That made me want to throw it across the room. It's a great marketing gimmick for fiction, but not for a supposedly true story. That kind of self-exploitation leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

As for "truth," the NYTimes article "Dysfunction for Dollars" sheds some very interesting light on Dave's story:


All that being said, I am going to try to take this book for what it is: an excellent awareness-raiser about child abuse; a survival story that may help many think "if he can get through that, I can get through anything"; and a simple, quick, can't-look-away-from-the-train-wreck read that kids and teens have given a cult following. May they then move on to something better.
9 reviews
July 13, 2012
I'm a little annoyed...

Tonight I read a book entitled "A Chiled Called 'It'" and I believe it's fiction, to say the least.

"A Child Called 'It'" is a story about a boy who survives horrendous over-the-top abuse at the hands of his mother. It basically reads as a long list of horrors that the author describes in grisly detail and sometimes depicts with startling clarity...

My problems with the book are many, For the sake of brevity however, I'll just list a few:

--He couldn't remember the color of his mothers eyes or hair, yet he remembered even the dates of certain abuses, the number of hits, the words said, and every fleeting thought. He remembers each abuse in vivid detail, clarity and full color descriptions.

--He remembers too many specifics; One *tiny* example taken from the end of chapter two:

"... The green river was as smooth as glass. The bluejays scolded the other birds, and a warm breeze blew through my hair. Without a word, we stood watching the firebhall-like sun as it sank behind the tall trees, leaving bright blue and orange streaks in the sky. From above, I felt someone hug my shoulders...."

(Keep in mind that he was like 8 or 9 in that 'memory.' There are lots of these scenes throughout the book. Yes I remember certain things in my childhood quite vividly, but not *so* well that I could tell you when a warm breeze ruffled my hair.

--After the first chapter (which is really the end of this story), the second chapter is devoted to describing the absolute perfect family in which he lived; perfect experiences and happiness in every way. There isn't even a hint of trouble like "mother had a drink with breakfast every day for the whole vacation" -- nothing like that.. Yet the first paragraph of chapter 3 reads

"My relationship with Mom drastically changed from discipline to punishment that grew out of control. It became so bad at times, I had no strength to crawl away -- even if it meant saving my life."

That's a hell of a jump there. Out of nowhere she starts drinking heavily and the abuse starts.

--He recalls MANY times being shoved into a locked bathroom with a bucket containing Ammonia and Bleach. (This he called the gas-chamber game.) Each time it would happen, he'd be locked in there for a goodly amount of time.... And yet he suffered no permanent lung damage? He joined the service, and I'm amazed his lungs worked well enough to get him through basic training.

--He describes his stabbing, and how his blood "completely soaked through" a number of shirts. And how he himself squeezed the pus out of it to rid of the infection that had set in. Pretty good for a (10?) year old.

I don't know.. I just got a real funny feeling about the whole thing, and I've learned to trust my instincts, SO I turn to the internet, and for the past few hours have been searching and reading and searching and reading... I even watched a couple of interviews with Dave Pelzer (author / victim), and the man gives me the absolute impression of a charlatan. He speaks of his childhood abuses too flippantly, and seems more obsessed about book and ticket sales than he does about getting his story out.

There is no doubt that child abuse happens. But just because it CAN happen, doesn't mean it happened to HIM. And even if he was abused as a child, I honestly believe he embellished his stories to the point of absurdity, and that is what makes me angry. Making up stories, or even embelishing on stories of abuse, cheapens what is *actually* happening to kids around the world.

That is my opinion of this book: It's a fake. Just do the research, read the articles and watch the videos. Make up your own mind, but I'll bet you find his story is at least somewhat suspicious.
Profile Image for Sammy.
207 reviews896 followers
March 28, 2008
Okay, this is going to be a short and sweet review since it's a non-fictional autobiography and you can't really critique things like characters and story. But I'm going to say what I can...

This book was a hard one to read yet I couldn't put it down. There's a different something in Dave's story that will keep different people reading. Mine was: Why? I wanted to know why his mother did this. I wanted to know what made her do it. I wanted to know how she could to it. And I wanted to know why it was Dave she picked out of him and his brothers. What made Dave the one she singled out for such monstrous torture. But that's something people involved in child abuse cases ask themselves every day.

You really do feel for Dave. You don't feel with him because there are moments so bad that he has to disconnect himself. I couldn't do that while reading it though. I almost felt that if I could send my anger and frustration and sadness and hope out there it would stop. Of course it was foolish of me seeing as it happened many years ago and he's a grown man who escaped his mothers claws.

I was only annoyed by the fact that the book was too short and that dividing his story into three seperate books seemed unnecessary. Especially because by the end the reader has become so invested in Dave and feels like they're such a part of his life, they want to go with him as he continues on to the next, hopefully happier chapter in his life. Perhaps it was a publishers marketing scheme to get more money or something. Goodness knows it wasn't Dave's. His goal was to tell his story, thank those who helped him, and open a door to shed light on an issue that is often hidden away. All of which he accomplished magnificently.

What we learn in Dave's story is that child abuse is real. It comes in many forms, but it's out there and it's up to those of us in the lives of children to stand up and be the voice for the abused. Another thing we learn is to not back down in that fight, of course there will be road blocks, but if you champion for a child as those special people in Dave's life did, you can help. You can save a life, heart, and soul. You can give a child hope.

This book is a must-read I'd say. I of course went out and got the follow-up (I hate to use the word sequel with something like this) and read it right away. That's a review to follow later. If you are debating about reading this book I will just say that it is a hard read. If you're a mother it will probably be especially hard. If you have a deep compassion and love for children it will probably be hard. If you yourself have experienced abuse it will probably be hard. If you just have a heart it will be hard. But don't give up. It would be even harder to just quit in the middle, trust me on that. It's that end, despite being a beginning, that will bring tears to your eyes and a much needed smile to your face.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
November 6, 2019
It feels wrong quantifying this with a star rating, but this book was one of the oldest on my TBR and I'm glad I got to it. I do with that this trilogy was consolidated into one book with the author's current-day perspective sprinkled it, because as is, it's a short collection of what happened to him without any real perspective or understanding of it until a tacked-on epilogue. It was still heartbreaking and confusing--and I can't tell who I hate more, the abusive mom or the dad who stood by and watched. This is packed full of description and action, but lacked the hindsight and explanations I wanted as a reader who isn't necessarily interested in the entire trilogy, so I wish it would have unpacked more of it in this single volume.
Profile Image for Sandy Yang .
58 reviews
March 14, 2008
A Child Called "It":One Child's Courage to Survive
Dave Pelzer
Health Communications, Inc., 1993, 153 pp., $9.95
ISBN 1-55874-366-9

Have your parents ever abused you? In The Child Called "It", a true story that can bring tears to the eyes of anyone with a beating heart, Dave, the protagonist, is abused in the most horrifying ways possible. What kind of mother would want to hurt their own little child? David's mom's actions can prove that wrong.
"Once, I ate some leftover pork. Hours later I bent over in extreme pain ... While I was sick, Mother informed me she had purposefully left the meat in the refrigerator for two weeks, to spoil before she threw it away" (Pelzer 63).
The book tells of a little child, Dave, the protagonist, who goes through many troubles throughout the book. He lives with his crazy, obnoxious, abusive mother who would go out of her way to torture David. His father, who had once been his guardian angel, has left the family because of all the argument after arguments he had with David's mother. Dave's mother would do crazy things like, putting his hands over the oven, lock him in the bathroom with deadly chemicals, or she doesn't feed him for really long.
This book can make me cry all over again every time ii read it. I can relate to the terror little David has to go through, because my mother wasn't much different from David's mom.
Get your tissues ready. You'll need it. After reading this book, you'll then understand the what really goes on in the world. It's called reality. People on the news just say what happens, but have never told you the details that make you want to slap the abuser. You'll like this book. Actually, rephrase that -- you'll LOVE this book!
Profile Image for Rebbie.
142 reviews113 followers
February 9, 2017
I've been avoiding this book since I was a teenager. I did so because this is a trigger for me and I knew I couldn't handle it. But...I figured that it's been two years since I cut my mother out of my life and that I finally feel free. And strong... well, at least strong enough to face each day. That's got to be better than nothing.

Anyway, this isn't about me so instead I'll say that no matter what, I'm glad I read it. I feel I have a duty to face other true stories of horrific child abuse, if only to put on the armor of bravery and show children that they don't need to run from the horror of their abuser's glee; that life can be good and it can feel somewhat safe.

That they can save themselves like I did and that all the pain, isolation and fear that consumes and suffocates them can break the barrier down and leave them with a profound sense of compassion, forgiveness and love for the very monsters who made/make us feel like they are powerful enough to stop the universe.

If you're reading this review and you've been abused/neglected/raped and/or forced to endure any other type of horror, KNOW THIS:

Dont give up. Don't let them win. Even if we never understand why they chose us and not our sibling (s), it's ok. We don't need all the answers. We just need to love ourselves and each other enough to let the light shine in.

Everything will be ok. I promise.
Profile Image for ☽•☾-Grimalkin-☽•☾.
51 reviews95 followers
February 22, 2021
Please note: Before I get into this review I want to make it very clear that I believe that David Pelzer was abused and did go through serious trauma as a child. However, by allowing this book to be published and available to the public, he has given room for the details of the abuse suffered, to be open to speculation.
Warning of Spoilers.
A Child Called It was written 1995, is a first-hand account of the abuse Pelzer suffered from the ages of 4 to 12, at the hands of his alcoholic mother. He describes how his mother withheld food and starved him, forced him to drink ammonia (I have reservations about this which I will get into later), stabbed him in the stomach (again, I am wondering about this), burned his arm on a hot stove, forced him to eat vomit and excrement and locked him in the bathroom which a mix of chemicals which he had to inhaled, repeatedly gassing himself, until he vomited blood and passed out (I seriously question the validity of this event).David also mentions in the book that his father did nothing to stop the abuse from happening, eventually leaving home, letting Dave battle with this mother alone.
My opinion
I have one or two serious reservation about the validity of David's recanting of the abuse he suffered. I don't understand how David simply didn't die at the hands of his mother. He describes not being fed for 10 days which I find very hard to believe as he was already malnourished. 10 days without food for a young child, you are running into organ failure and death.

Leading on from this point I personally believe he exaggerated the details of other events such as:

The drinking of ammonia, which will KILL a adult, never mind a starved, abused child, I have no doubt that if this was to have occurred his mouth and throat would have been seriously burnt, as would his stomach and liver. 100% would have required medical attention to stop further damage.

The stabbing incident which apparently his mother has enough sense in her drunken state to have the medical skill to know how to be able to repair a stab wound to the stomach without having David permanently physically disabled, bleed out and die.

The "gas chamber" punishment, this boggled my mind. David states that he vomited blood and passed out due to a lack of oxygen. How he didn't suffocate and sustain serious mental damage is nothing short of a miracle in my mind!!!!

My last point on this is that David recalls the events that occurred with incredible clarity. This is why I believe he has massively exaggerated some points of this book. Trauma plays tricks on the brain, especially on a child's brain. A child who has undergone as horrific treatment as David described most likely won't be able to remember all the events described. If he did exaggerate or fabricate some of the incidents then this would explain the large amounts of detail.

At the end of the day, what needs to be remembered is that A Child Called It has given voice to all the cases of child abused which otherwise would have gone unheard. It raised flaws in the social service system and highlighted how little we know of what goes on for children behind closed doors.
That is truly powerful and explains why I gave the book at least some stars even though I question the validity of his claims.
Pelzer has also written several other books on his experiences with abuse including:
The Lost Boy written in 1997
A Man Named Dave written in 2000
Moving Forward written in 2009
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews415 followers
February 21, 2022
This has been one of the hardest books I have ever read. The amount of abuse this so-called mother (womb provider) put this child through is unthinkable. If there is a hell, I hope this human garbage has a space reserved in the hottest section. Oh, don't think I have forgotten about David's father (sperm donor). He needs to have a seat next to her. If anything, he is worse. He knew what his son was going through and CHOSE to ignore it. CHOSE not to provide a safe place for his child. I hope David has found all the love and happiness in this world. He deserves it.
Profile Image for Danielle.
832 reviews451 followers
December 25, 2021
Note: this book is listed as one of the most popular books to be banned, over the past decade, from both schools and private libraries. Support freedom of expression by reading and buying banned books! ❤️📚
Profile Image for Laurel.
404 reviews193 followers
May 3, 2009
YIKES. This is a man's account of the severe abuse he suffered as a young child through the hands of his mother. Apparently, there is some doubt on whether the story is actually true, or whether the author merely made the whole thing up. I don't know enough about the controversy to speculate, so I will just give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume this is indeed a factual memoir of his childhood. If that is the case, then he most certainly deserves major admiration for having overcome such incredible adversities and for sharing his story.

That being said, this book is very poorly written. It is essentially just one description of one abusive incident after another, and nothing more. There's no real introspection, and no explanation as to how he later found forgiveness, or why the mother was once a kind, loving parent and suddenly one day just went completely mad. A book that describes overcoming any kind of extreme hardship, ending with a message about hope and the ability of the human spirit to triumph, can be both moving and inspiring. However, a book that merely describes abuse in vivid detail one scene after another and does little else? Just plain depressing.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,406 followers
May 2, 2021
Ever read a non-fiction that ends with a cliffhanger?
Well, this is one and had me going frantically searching for it's sequel. And blessed be the book, it became mine asap.

This memoir is one heartbreaking read narrating in details about the physical and emotional abuse of Dave Pelzer ever since he was 7 years old. Things never became better for this boy. His only hope, his dad, left him too unable to bear the taunts of his wife.
I never would have thought how cruel and evil a mother can be towards her child. This has got to be one of the worst cases of child abuse I would ever read.
I totally agree with the author that what's worse than the abuser is the one who was supposed to save you as the one silently watching you suffer and not doing anything about it.

This is one of the best, hard-hitting memoirs I have ever read.
But I do not understand the idea of leaving it so incomplete without a proper ending.
Yes, I have to read the sequel to know how he got rescued.

I appreciate how the book is written so well and cleverly for that matter.
You can actually feel what he as a child went through. You really want to help him but as a reader you are so helpless. And moreover you know he would survive through it all. But you cannot help feeling broken each moment Dave became more broken.

It's his strength and the will to survive each day and not his 'weakness' (as he used to feel) that makes this memoir so powerful.

I do not read such memoirs to make myself feel better knowing how previledged I am or how lucky I am. But I do choose to read such memoirs and such books to know how we as human show our worse ways and be the worse as we can be. On the other hand, I come to know how we as human can deal with the worst possible conditions and how we can come out of such situations rather than cursing our fates.

I am so thankful to the author for such a powerful memoir.

(I deliberately left out any event or the details regarding the abuse in this review. I feel it is the right of the author to reveal or not regarding any information.)
Profile Image for Tina Loves To Read.
2,532 reviews1 follower
October 10, 2020
This is a Biography Memoir/Non-fiction, and this is the first book in the Dave Pelzer series. This is a very short and quick read. I really loved this book, but the subject of this book is hard to read. The way the book is written is easy to read, but the subject is not of people that gets upsets by hard to read subjects. My childhood was not great, and I had a Mother that had mental health issues and she did drugs/drink way to much. I was very lucky because I had a strong Grandmother that would not back down. My Grandmother always show up when things got bad because she stopped by our house on the way home everyday. She know something was going on. When I told my Grandmother I did not want to live with my parents anymore at the age of 10 years old. She went to mother and told her she was taking me to her house. She got my Mother to sign some paperwork two days later, and I never know what it was until I was 18 years old. It turns out my Grandmother give my mother her land for me. To this day I love my Grandmother with all my heart for want she did to save me. I wish someone strong will took on this child's mother. I also wonder while reading this book if the mother in this book had mental health issues, but I am not saying that gives her any reason to do what she did. What also made me love my Grandmother is she did not turn her back on my Mother that needed help. My mother was my Grandmother's daughter-in-law, so she did not have to do anything for her. But, I also learn when I was 15 years old my Grandmother checked on my Mother everyday after she took me to school. My Grandmother told me that my mother was sick and needed help to, and she could never turn her back on someone that needed help. I started to help my Grandmother take care of my mother when I was 16 until I was 20 years old. I stopped when I was 20 years old because my Mother took her own life. I do not have a lot of good memories of the time I lived with my mother, but I have found peace. I hope that this child finds peace, and I wish with all my heart that any child going through this has an adult that is strong and welling to stand up for them.
Profile Image for Carrie.
331 reviews22 followers
June 23, 2008
I know it's not nice to burn, stab, poison, starve or otherwise torture your kid, but damn! If THAT can't motivate a boy to do the dishes in less than half an hour, how's he ever gonna learn?!

Seriously, though. I'm enjoying this short little autobiography from a "glad it wasn't me" perspective. The only problem is I can't believe a book so poorly edited became a New York Times Bestseller. The man uses commas like they're going out of style and uses "everyday" instead of "every day." [Everyday is an adjective, as in "Storms were becoming an everyday occurrence." Every day should be used when you are talking about the frequency of an event, as in "It rained every day during our vacation."] On one page, I found three grammatical errors. And these pages are small, with large type!

P.S. Now that I am finished reading it and have read some other reviews of the book on Goodreads, plus a NY Times article linked from another Goodreads review, I am inclined to believe the author is a liar. The article suggests that the book's lengthy stay on the NYT bestseller list is due to the author's habit of purchasing thousands of copies at a time (at a discount) and selling them at his speaking engagements. He also tells everyone who listens that "A Child Called It" was nominated for a Pulitzer, when it really wasn't. Submitted for review, maybe. Plus, how are you going to believe someone can recall graphic scenes from their childhood, but not what their mother looked like? Would have been nice if the Times reporter had interviewed the teachers who reported his abuse (if, in fact those people and reports weren't fabricated) or if the reporter had looked for the police report taken when Pelzer was removed from his home. The brother, Stephen, says David was removed for setting fires or something... It's not quite fair to leave it as a he-said-she-said when there are documents of the event out there.

Profile Image for Seri.
382 reviews
March 2, 2013

Recommended by a friend in orchestra, this book is supposed to be "really really good".

I finished it in 3 hours because it was short and to the point. Yet I must say this book is extremely poorly written. It is structured in a sense similar to a pointless shopping list: so first my mother did this to me, then she did this, I was starving, afterwards she did this and I felt so terrible. Pelzer basically just described, no scratch that, he stated the unfortunate things that have happened to him in sequence. There are no character traits or branches of the story. Everything revolves around his mother and punishments; the book touches on nothing else. There are also no literary devices. Normally I don't really care about that, but the lack of writing skills has, honestly, made this book quite bland.

A little synopsis of the book: Dave Pelzer was born the third of five children. His mother, one day, suddenly changed into a completely different person: from a kind and lovely mother, she transformed into one who starved and tortured Dave.

What bothers me the most is the improbability of Dave's statements. These punishments Dave had gotten since four years old or so are so radical and crude that I am skeptical of what have really happened. Of course, I have no rights to judge. Pelzer's account is just way too farfetched. These things *did* happen to him, just not to this extent.

These are reasons for my claims:
1. The mother treats all of her children but Dave compassionately and motherly, yet Dave is singled out. The book has never explained why the mother suddenly turned crazy and why Dave was the hapless scapegoat. Update: That is a likely situation, so I no longer doubt it.
2. The father and brothers at first sympathized with Dave. Towards the middle, they just all pretended Dave was their slave, as their mother has said.
3. The unusualness of Dave's punishments. His mother had starved him for more than ten days, made him eat soap, forced him to inhale a mixture of ammonia and bleach, attempted to burn his arm over a gas stove (or to be precise, asked him to lie down on it), smashed his head into his baby brother's diaper (with feces on it), stabbed him in the stomach with a knife, strangled him, submerged his head under water, etc. And by the frequency of these punishments inflicted on Dave, it is almost impossible that Dave is still alive today, living well in good mental and physical health.
4. The response from Dave's family after the book was published.
3 reviews1 follower
December 16, 2013
My book review is over A Child Called “IT” By: Dave Pelzer. This book is a true story about a child’s devastating childhood in which he experienced child abuse physically and verbally.
David’s child abuse first started when he was only two and a half years old, and continued for ten years after that.David’s abuse came from his mother who once was a loving woman that cared for her children and was willing to do anything for them and her husband. Quickly all the good in his mother turned to bad.David’s mother was mentally unstable, was an alcoholic, and did drugs. She soon began playing cruel twisted ‘life or death’ games with David. She locked him in bathrooms with cleaning chemicals giving David no option but to inhale them, she nearly starved David to death, she made him sleep in the basement on a cottage, and she stabbed him, with refusal to take him to the hospital. David’s childhood was filled with multiple events involving abuse. David’s mom even stopped calling him ‘David’ and started calling him ‘It’ because to her he was nothing and worthless.
This book provides you with amazing details making you feel like you’re there in person with David himself. This book really made me realize the difficulties people face in the world and not to treat anyone with disrespect because you never know what might be happening at their home.
David Pelzer blew me away with A Child Called It. His life story brought so much sympathy to heart and tears to my eyes. I definitely couldn’t stop reading without wanting to know what was next in this amazing book. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know a real life experience of someone who dealt with child abuse in full detail.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,743 reviews5,283 followers
August 5, 2019
I read this many years ago, and while it is a book that has really stayed with me, I don't know if I would ever be willing to put myself through the heartache of rereading it. A Child Called "It" is a memoir highlighting Dave's childhood, and it describes some of the most godawful abuse I could ever imagine. I remember raging and sobbing through the majority of the book, and that was YEARS ago; now that I'm an adult, and a mother, and these things have become so much more realistic and impactful for me, there's no way I could stomach imagining even a fraction of the pain that Dave Pelzer underwent in his childhood.

Don't let my review dissuade you from reading it; by all means, if you don't think it will be too damaging for you (ex.: I would not recommend this to a survivor of intense child abuse), pick it up. Let this book bring you to tears. Rage for Dave's lost childhood, and then remember to rage and cry for the lost childhoods of little ones all over the globe, throughout history and now. There are some things that must not be swept under the rug, and child abuse is one of those things.
Profile Image for J. Kahele.
Author 15 books441 followers
December 29, 2015

This is a story of a boy named David who endured the worst abuse I had ever read about, by the hand of the very person who gave him life, his mother.

I wanted so badly to pluck David out of the story and hide him away from this vicious woman who to me was never truly a mother, but a monster who took her anger out on a weak small child.

Being able to push out a baby does not make you a mother. It's loving and nurturing that baby, protecting that child to the bitter end.

I am not a violent person, but by God I wish I could have just five minutes alone with this woman...five minutes.

Abuse is never okay for anyone. But for a child it's horrific. I don't understand it and I'll never accept any reason for why someone would hurt a child. Never understand.
Profile Image for Diane in Australia.
668 reviews791 followers
January 2, 2020
I know there is a controversy as to whether Dave is telling the truth in this book, or not. I know his brother wrote a book (A Brother's Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse) that corroborates Dave's memories. On the other hand, some of his relatives say that he was the problem, not his mother.

It is written from the viewpoint of Dave as a child, which may be why some readers find the writing to be childish. Not sure if he intended it to be that way, or if he truly is just a terrible writer.

Almost everyone I know was abused as a child, including myself, and, yes, unspeakable things do happen that when written down make some folks say, "Oh, that couldn't have really happened!". I beg to differ. It can, and it has, to far too many children.

So, if Dave suffered even 50% of what he wrote, he was still horribly abused. If every word is the truth, then he's lucky to be alive, and fortunate to be sane.

3 Stars = I liked the book. I'm glad I read it.
Profile Image for Chantal.
924 reviews125 followers
March 17, 2023
What a sad story of child abuse. It makes you want to only hugg little Dave and help him out of the situation. The book was a very easy read (not the subject of course). It made me mad to think about that spineless dad, he was a grown up and should have done something. A must read for everybody!
Profile Image for KamRun .
376 reviews1,443 followers
July 11, 2017
-اسمت چیه؟
-اسمم؟ {با لکنت زبان و بعد از کمی فکر} اسمم... اسمم "هِی بچه" ست
-نه، می‌گم اسمت چیه، تو خونه چی صدات میکنن پسر؟
-هی یارو! صدام میکنن هی یارو

برداشت آزاد از نمایش هفتمین برخون خوان رستم - اثر شارمین میمندی‌نژاد

تراژدی در سه پرده، هیولایی به نام مادر

همواره خواندن رمان‌ها با نوعی حس لذت‌بخش همراه است و این لذت هم به خودیِ خود چیز بدی نیست. اصلا چه دلیلی مهم‌تر از لذت بردن؟ لذتی که با آگاهی همراه است و بدین دلیل ارزش نابی هم دارد. اما کودکی به نام "این" کتابی نیست که در دست بگیرید و از خواندنش لذت ببرید. شاید تهوع و انزجار بهترین توصیف از حسی باشد که کتاب به خواننده منتقل می‌کند: کودک آزاری وحشتناک و سادیستی توسط مادر، سومین کودک‌آزاری وحشتناک تاریخ ایالت کالیفرنیا. دیوید پلزر در بخش اول این خودزندگی‌نامه، خاطرات دوران کودکی‌اش را که نوعی راز خانوادگی به حساب می‌آمده با صداقت و صراحتی توصیف می‌کند. قطعا یادآوری شکنجه‌ها، تحقیرها و ناسزاهایی که از جانب مادر متوجه انسان باشد کار راحتی نیست، چه برسد به بیانش با این صراحت. این خود‌زندگی‌نامه دو جلد دیگر دارد که به خاطرات دوران نوجوانی (پسر گمشده) و اوایل دوران جوانی (نام این مرد دیوید است) می‌پردازد. کتاب نخست را می‌توان جدا از باقی جلدها خواند، ولی برای خواندن دو جلد بعدی حتما باید توالی رعایت شود

پرده‌ی نخست - دوران کودکی

دیوید کوچک، هفت ساله است که مادر الکلی‌اش در دام قهقرا می‌افتد و خانواده‌اش به سوی متلاشی شدن پیش می‌رود. در این بحران، رفتار مادر با دیوید به طرز باورنکردنی‌ای خشن و بی‌رحمانه می‌شود. کتاب رنج‌نامه‌ی دوران کودکی نویسنده‌ست از سن 7 تا 11 سالگی: شرح گرسنگی‌ها و بیچارگی‌ها، آوارگی‌ها و شکنجه‌های روحی و روانی. خواندن و به پایان رساندن کتاب دل شیر می‌خواهد و اعصاب فولادین

چرا باید این کتاب را خواند؟

یک - دیوید پلزر امروز زنده است و از تمام این ماجراهای تلخ و تیره هرچند سخت، اما به سلامت بیرون آمده و از این رو در دل این روایت تاریک، کورسویی از روشنی و امید به زندگی نهفته‌ست: این داستان دو جنبه‌ی عینی دارد. نخست اینکه خواننده را آگاه کنیم که چطور والدین بامحبت و نگران می‌توانند تبدیل به هیولاهایی سر و ظالم شوند و دوم بقا و پیروزی روح انسان بر ناملایمات تحمل ناپذیز. این داستان من و تنها مال من است. سال‌ها در تاریکی ذهن و قلب خودم محصور بودم، تنها و بازنده‌ای قابل ترحم. این چیزی بیش از داستان بقاست. این داستان پیروزی و شادمانی است. قلب حتی در تاریک‌ترین گذرگاه‌هایش غیر قابل تسخیر است. این مهم است که جسم نجات پیدا کند، ولی زیباتر این است که روح انسانی پیروز شود

دو - بیان رسمی آمار کودک آزاری‌ها و رسانه‌ای شدن رنج‌نامه‌ی این کودکان، وجدان اجتماعی را برمی‌انگیزاند و حساسیت جامعه را نسبت به این موضوع برده و مطالبه‌ی پاسخگویی سازمان‌های مسئول و نهاد‌های قانون‌گذار را سبب شده و از وقوع کودک‌آزاری پیشگیری یا جلوگیری می‌کند و به رنج پنهان و آشکار بسیاری از کودکان پایان می‌دهد

گزارش جمعیت امام علی از یک مورد کودک آزاری

هشدار: حاوی تصویر ناراحت کننده
Profile Image for Jacqueline Wheeler.
531 reviews1,517 followers
April 20, 2021
Why are bad people able to have children? 😢

I picked up this book based off of recommendations from a bunch of my friends and I was not disappointed. This is a memoir about one of the worst 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.

I listened to this book while I was rocking my newborn nephew, and I couldn't even imagine how a mother could treat her own child like this. There were so many parts of this book where I was disgusted, angry, sad, and confused, and I really couldn't believe that Dave's father didn't stick up for him and stop the abuse either.

I have now continued onto the second book in this series, and unfortunately Dave's story hadn't gotten that much better.
Profile Image for Harry Costea.
10 reviews2 followers
February 12, 2018
This book was very interesting. It showed me what really goes on in some families in this world. It also showed me to never take anything that i have for granted because some kids have that kind of life at home.
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