Book Review: 'A Child Called It'

A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer

I just finished reading A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer on the recommendation of several students who are reading it with another teacher. They are impatient to read beyond what is possible in a class period and resent the advantage I have by owning my own copy on my Kindle.

Like me, they are fascinated by what young David Pelzer went through during his early childhood years, when his mother turned from being June Cleaver to Joan Crawford. How a kind and diligent, loving and giving, Mother could become the Bitch who deprived one of her three (and later five) sons of food for days at a time, could beat him severely, and could devise countless other forms and rituals of humiliation year after year is a question the text raises but does not answer.

Nor does the book answer the question of how this matriarch could dominate her sons and her husband so that they did nothing to rescue this child from the special hell Mother created but lived their family life in a superficially normal and happy way.

The mother's cruel behavior is as big mystery and as hard to fathom as the child's ability to survive and, ore than that, free himself of that hell.

It's a well-written, engrossing book. I am looking forward to the sequal in the hope of reading Pelzer's own thoughts on how and why all his family life took the shape it did.

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  1. There are 3 books to that series -- that one is only the first. THEN, Dave writes another book about his life now. I own them all. Bought them when they first came out as they were all on the best seller's list. You have to read all of them! I used to be able to say the names of all but it has been over a decade since I read them all.

  2. it sounds depressing but an important issue to discuss...

  3. They are the saddest books I've ever read and yet he seems to triumph. I'm glad that the kids in your school are getting a chance to read it and discuss though. After I read his book I read more about the phenomonen where one child in a family is signaled out for abuse and how it also affects the other children (I guess sort of survivors guilt.) Makes one grateful that's for sure.


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