A Child Called It


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.

The Phoenix’s Perspective

Every single page moved me — sometimes I was moved to tears and at other times (perhaps even more often) I was moved to strong feelings of anger.

I am horrified and disgusted that there are people who could behave this way.  As a mother, I can’t ever imagine treating my child that way.  I look into the eyes of my 8 and 6 year old boys and see trust, dependency and faith.  My boys have faith that I will always protect them, they depend on me to always be there for them and they have faith that I will never steer them wrong.

Knowing that, I can’t understand how someone would purposely treat his or her child (any child) this way.  Though she is undeserving of being called anything even remotely close to human, this mother decides that it is ok for her to not only treat her family abusively but also hone in specifically on the smallest child (at least he was when the nightmare began) for the truly horrible and despicable acts of abuse whenever she fancied.  To be honest, I found myself labeling his father as bad if not worse then his mother.  To stand by and allow her to do this to his son, to watch and dismiss Dave’s pleas for help and love makes him even more responsible for the tortures his son endured.

I am truly inspired that Dave Pelzer found a way to cling to life during a time when he could have easily given in. I read his story and feel as if I would have given in even now as a grown adult.  At the same time, I am saddened knowing that there are children out there in the world suffering the same if not worse fates because the adults in their life have not only failed them but also managed to convince them it is their fault.

I wish I could put into words how much A Child Called “It” has moved me, but I can’t.  I think his story of survival has touched me so deeply that it is impossible to truly put into words the pain, the anger and the hope that have come out of this inspiring story.  I feel like the most I can say is that this is not just a look into a man’s tattered past, but it is actually an experience that changes your outlook on life from the big moments all the way down to the little things that before now you didn’t think mattered as much as they really do.

Would I add it to the library?

Yes!  I found out that there are two other books following Dave through his foster years and I can’t wait to read them.


Genre: Biography
ISBN: 9780140067477
Rating:  good

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