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A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive [Paperback]

Dave Pelzer
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,417 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 1995

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.


Frequently Bought Together

A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive + The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family + A Man Named Dave
Price For All Three: CDN$ 35.84

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  • The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family CDN$ 12.24

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From Amazon

David J. Pelzer's mother, Catherine Roerva, was, he writes in this ghastly, fascinating memoir, a devoted den mother to the Cub Scouts in her care, and somewhat nurturant to her children--but not to David, whom she referred to as "an It." This book is a brief, horrifying account of the bizarre tortures she inflicted on him, told from the point of view of the author as a young boy being starved, stabbed, smashed face-first into mirrors, forced to eat the contents of his sibling's diapers and a spoonful of ammonia, and burned over a gas stove by a maniacal, alcoholic mom. Sometimes she claimed he had violated some rule--no walking on the grass at school!--but mostly it was pure sadism. Inexplicably, his father didn't protect him; only an alert schoolteacher saved David. One wants to learn more about his ordeal and its aftermath, and now he's written a sequel, The Lost Boy, detailing his life in the foster-care system.

Though it's a grim story, A Child Called "It" is very much in the tradition of Chicken Soup for the Couple's Soul and the many books in that upbeat series, whose author Pelzer thanks for helping get his book going. It's all about weathering adversity to find love, and Pelzer is an expert witness.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up?This autobiographical account charts the abuse of a young boy as his alcoholic mother first isolates him from the rest of the family; then torments him; and finally nearly kills him through starvation, poisoning, and one dramatic stabbing. Pelzer's portrayal of domestic tyranny and eventual escape is unforgettable, but falls short of providing understanding of extreme abuse or how he made his journey from "Victim to Victor." It takes some work to get past the poor writing and the self-aggrandizing back matter, but the book tries fervently to provide a much-needed perspective. One of the greater obstacles to healing for males is admitting that they have been victims, especially if their perpetrator is a woman. This author has overcome that obstacle and succeeded in life by such masculine norms as joining the Air Force and receiving awards for his volunteerism. However, while personal accounts of child maltreatment provide crucial information about the realities of childhood, youngsters need insight and hope in order to digest the raw material of abuse. James Deem's The 3 NBs of Julian Drew (Houghton, 1994) is a well-crafted, fictional work that effectively covers much of the same ground.?Carolyn Polese, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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5 March 1973, Daly City, California - I'm late. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Survivor of Child Abuse April 12 2007
By Sam
Format:Paperback
As a survivor of child abuse I found this book very emotional. This was a very good book that I think all adults need to read. Another really good book is This Can't Be Love! by Patricia Goins. That book had me glued to my seat, I couldn't put it down. As an adult with children I just don't understand how someone can hurt a defenseless child. Both of these books will take you into the world of an abused child.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Difficult Read Feb. 15 2012
By RW Todd
Format:Paperback
The most disturbing book I've ever read.

The descriptions of horrific child abuse had me cringing. As a father I can't imagine the sick mind that could do this to their child. An essential read for anyone going into social work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly horrifying and yet uplifting Feb. 15 2005
By J.Jones
Format:Paperback
This story A CHILD CALLED IT by David Pelzer is about one child's courage to survive. It takes place in 1973 in Daily City, California where there is a child being abused physically and mentally by his own mother. At first he lives a wonderful life with his whole family but one day all of that changed drastically. His mother beat him and actually told him that she hated him. Hate is a very strong word for a child seven or eight years old. As the story goes on in the book he tries to survive his mother's strong words and beatings. This story is sad but very inspirational to all. I recommend that all people should read this book because it shows a lot about parenting and childhood. If you're not deterred by child abuse and enjoyed such books as BARK OF THE DOGWOOD (Though that book is sometimes actually funny), then you'll like this Pelzer book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very dramatic but disappointing March 2 2014
Format:Paperback
This may have happened to Mr. Pelzer but I question some of his stories. I come from an abusive home and most people who have survived such do not portray the events in such a traumatizing way. In so doing I question if some of his story has been embellished. And why was there not more information on his neighbours, teachers and his father who all seemed to have neglected him in a way that also is a systematic abuse. If all this is true which is very possible, why was there no comments on consequences of his family; what happened to them?; where are they?; where was the police and social services? After reading this book one is left with numerous unanswered questions. If the story is true, I do praise Mr. Pelzer for his success in moving forward and being successful with his life. Congratulations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely horrifying. Jan. 10 2014
By Kassidy
Format:Kindle Edition
the best and most heartbreaking, sickening book i have ever read. a must read book that you will never leave your brain and cause you to always think twice about every encouter you witness
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5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but enlightening Dec 28 2013
By Kristi
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is not a book I would recommend as vacation reading. David's experience was horrific and terribly difficult to read. However, as a student of Social Services I found it to be educational and, as unthinkable as the acts committed against him were, he is one case out of millions. I am grateful he found the courage to share his past with the public because child abuse desperately needs to be addressed on multiple levels. Only through the revelations of stories like David's will teachers, social workers, and others know when children are troubled or how they can be of help.
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5.0 out of 5 stars grammy61 Feb. 5 2012
Format:Paperback
This is truely one of the best books I have ever read. I have read it over a couple times. It is very sad, and hard to believe stuff like this really does happen to children.I was reading it once and my 12 year old daughter asked me what it was about. I told her and she later borrowed it from the library to read herself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Book Called FANTASTIC! March 23 2007
Format:Paperback
A CHILD CALLED IT was an amazing book about one child's courage to survive. This is one of the most brutal child abuse cases I have ever heard of. Throughout this book you see how the abuse starts and stops. The narrator/author lets you inside of his mind so you can experience how he felt and what he thought when his mother is causing him so much pain. The main character, Dave Pelzer, is incredibly brave for such a young person. He does things and uses his mind in ways that people my age may not think of. His mother is emotionally unstable and is an alcoholic. She brutally beats and starves Dave as a form of entertainment. These epic tales bring you into the lives of children who have to experience the horrific tragedy of abuse from those that are supposed to love and care for them. After reading this book, I know that child abuse continues to occur and it must be stopped. You must also read the books SYBIL and THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD to get completely different yet equally horrifying perspectives.
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