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Book Review - "a Child Called It"

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Book Review of "A Child Called It"

While reading "A Child Called It" by Dave Pelzer, I was filled with emotions towards the entire family of this poor boy. This story is like a flashback that includes many accounts of brutal abuse, starvation, mind games, dysfunctional family relationships and fear, written from the eyes of a child. I believe that Pelzer wrote this book to show that with strength and determination, you can make it through any adversity thrown at you, and make a good life for yourself. This account of child abuse serves as an example for all of us going into this field, as a record of what could happen to children everywhere if there are not enough human service professionals available to help. We can each help if we choose to accept the task of hard work and determination to keep all children safe.

The main characters in this book are David Pelzer, who is 4-12 years old during this account of his life, his mother and father, who are both alcoholics, his 3 brothers that were not treated poorly, some concerned neighbors, and a teacher and school nurse that cared enough to document and report the abuse. Pelzer is able to describe these characters and the events that unfold in very minute details to bring us a very vivid story. This book chronicles an unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history.

While Pelzer was young, his family life was pretty good and it was obvious that he loved his mother and father very much. I would even go as far as to say he admired them. He once described his mother as "... a woman who glowed with love for her children," and his father as his "hero" (Pelzer, 1993, p. 23). David even devotes a whole chapter to describing the feelings of warmth and safety that his mother provided him before the age of about 4. Throughout the book, there were descriptions of terrifically fun family vacations in the early years before she was consumed by alcoholism. Throughout the entire book, the accounts of his life are described in great detail and I enjoyed the feeling of being there as the author portrays the intimate details to us. David seems to be kind, friendly, and honest and is almost always helpful where possible. He is an innocent and smart young man that is forced to come up with innovative ways to survive the hell that his mother put him through. He is an imaginative, hopeful, and wishful boy that has used his incredible strength within to survive years of pure torture.

As he gets older his mother starts to "punish him." He says on page 31, "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." This book is an account of how his alcoholic mother first isolates him from the rest of the family; then torments him; and finally nearly kills him through starvation, poisoning, and even a dramatic stabbing. Pelzer describes school as a safe haven where he was safe from his mother and could steal some food to feed his noisy stomach. He describes being "thrashed relentlessly" (p. 43). At one point he says that he was "never" fed lunch (p. 84). He was safe from the abuse while at school, and dreaded running home for more punishments, torture and neglect. As the book progresses, so does the amount and severity of the cruelty.

Early in childhood, Pelzer saw his father as his savior and would endure the cruelty knowing that his father would be home soon and mother would relent for a much needed break for Pelzer. He then feared his father leaving and would beg him not to go. His father was also an alcoholic, and the more his mother drank and tortured him, the more his father drank so that he did not have to cope with her and the trauma that she was causing his son. He began staying away for 24 to 48 hours at a time so that he did not have to cope with his wife and sons dysfunctional relationship. He no longer chose to protect and defend his son; therefore, the abuse became drastically worse. Pelzer could no longer depend on the reprieve and comfort of knowing that his father was coming home. I felt that on pages 84-88 Pelzer did a fabulous job of describing the accidental stabbing that occurred. He makes us feel the lack of sensitivity from his father and little brothers, and even explains that his mother is more compassionate with animals than him. He describes



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