Book Review, Memior, Non- Fiction

Book Review: A Child Called It by David Pelzer 


Later that day, the voting took place, and Mr Ziegler took me aside and told me how proud he was that my title had won. I socked it up like sponge. I hadn’t been told anything positive for so long that I nearly cried. At the end of the day, after assuring me that I wasn’t in trouble, Mr Ziegler gave me a letter to take to Mother.

Elated, I ran to Mother’s house faster than ever before. As I should have expected, my happiness was short-lived. The Bitch tore the letter open, read it quickly and scoffed, ‘Well, Mr Ziegler says I should be so proud of you for naming the school newspaper. He also claims that you are one of the top pupils in his class. Well, aren’t you special?’ Suddenly, her voice turned ice coldand she jabbed her finger at my face and hissed, ‘Get one thing straight, you litte son of a bitch! There is nothing you can do to impress me! Do you understand me? You are a nobody! An It! You are nonexistent! You are a bastard child! I hate you and I wish you were dead! Dead! Do you hear me? Dead!’

There are two kinds of books, those that you finish reading and leave you with fleeting memories of the characters and the overall story line. By all means, it’s a book that you read, you either liked it or disliked it, and the moment you read the last page of it and get another book, it is out of sight and out of mind. Then there is this other book that will engulf your heart, or awaken a lingering memory or a potential fear that will haunt your mind to the extent that even long after you’ve completed it, your unconscious self is still wading through the details. Your dreams will be fitful and when you finally awaken, you will find yourself tangled up in sheets with puffy, swollen eyes from tears that you shed when you weren’t even aware enough to know you were crying. A Child Called it is the latter.


Author: David Pelzer

Title: A Child Called It

Category: Non Fiction/ Biography

Dave, is born in an ideal perfect family- initially. He has loving and affectionate two siblings and parents. He is a content boy who’s quite happy, always looking forward to family activities during holidays not to mention the delightful meals their mother used to take time to prepare with love.

Suddenly, the tables turn. Dave’s mother starts developing hatred towards Dave and his brother but will later direct her rage and anger towards Dave. She will  incorporate some unpalatable measures of discipline where she always claimed that Dave was a ‘bad boy’ and deserved to be punished. At this time, Dave is eleven years old. Mother will make Dave’s stay in her household a difficult and tormenting one. She always subjected him to hard work, she starved him, beat him more often and what’s even worse, is the fact that she gets Dave’s brothers to take pride in hurting their own sibling.

These form of punishments affects Dave greatly especially his self-esteem and how he carried himself around other people. Dave found solace in stealing other kids lunches because of the many times he had to go without food. When Mother was informed about this, she’d beat Dave, and starve him some more. She found fulfillment in her torture games that at times she’d lock Dave in the bathroom having mixed  ammonia and clorox which Dave was to use when cleaning. What really annoyed me and had me exclaim in disbelief was when she rubbed Dave’s little brother’s diaper on his face forcing him to eat the waste. I was dumbstruck and kept questioning if at all this was Dave’s real mother. How can someone a mother treat her own flesh and blood the way Dave’s mother was treating Dave? She had totally brainwashed Dave’s father who would at times try to come to Dave’s defense and in most cases ended up worsening the situation which only meant that he got more severe punishments.

During one of her daily tortures, Mother stabs Dave and he almost dies. For a moment I thought that this will have her shook and deviate from all the cruel punishments but instead she dressed the wound and ordered Dave back to the sink to finish off the dirty dishes. Mind you, Dave’s Father was in the house when all this happened but even when Dave went to report the incident to him, instead of helping Dave and confront mother’s action, he shooed him and asked him to get back to his chores. I read aghast with my mouth open cursing how stupid and timid could Father be to brush off such a serious scenario. I too developed hatred towards Dave’s father. I had to read it thrice to confirm that indeed he brushed him off. How dare you?

Dave’s mistreatment was once reported to the social work agents and upon being informed about the visit of one of the agents, Mother re- traced her steps and started treating Dave kindly and even allowing him to play with his brothers. But her act of kindness was short-lived and only noted when the agent had paid them a visit and Dave having been brainwashed and blinded by Mother’s sudden affection, and even confirming to the agent that he get’s along with Mother not knowing that all that was pretense and a show she pulled to avoid been charged with child assault.

The cycle of harsh treatment continued until one day when Dave opens up to his teacher and the nurse at school. They will later report this to the school’s principal who escalates the matter to the police department and Dave was taken away to a foster home where he started anew. The book ends with readers been assured that indeed Dave’s new dawn is finally here.

The author also shared what is to be expected in the following series of his other two books that describes how Mother was to appear in court to answer to the child assault charges that were held against her and Dave been adamant about speaking against his mother following her threat when she visited Dave in the foster home. However, the excerpt of the third book gives readers hope that Dave finally makes it through his adult life and is shortlisted in the country’s army air force, he has a son, Stephen, whom he deeply adores and spoils with love. Too much of it!

In as much as am curious to know more about his future endevours, I’ve had to put off the other two books as I soak in just how horrendous and tormenting Dave’s childhood must have been.

I had mentioned earlier that I got myself reading three sad books back-to-back and of the three, ‘A Child Called It’ has had to be the most heart-breaking book I read and one that I have ever read. I had to battle my tears, get a good hold of myself as I review this book. Never have I cried a bucket full when reading as I did with this book.What makes it even worse, is that this is not a fictional text that I’ll get over eventually. This fear will, with no doubt, live with me. Talking with a friend of mine who also happened to have lend me the book, she confirmed to me that such incidents are present in homes and a couple in the US were recently arrested after subjecting their son to something similar that led to his death.

I could have sworn that either Dave was an adopted or a step-son whom Mother took pride in torturing, because never in wildest imaginations has it ever occurred to me that one’s parent can be that demonic and inhumane.

I must commend Dave for his brevity in sharing his darkest story with the world and also the fact that he is a father. Most of one’s upbringing usually contributes a big deal with the kind of adult he/ she will be. And with Dave I find this a big step in his life because if anything, were he to choose to be a bachelor I would have totally understood and even cheered him on. But him taking that bold step in being someone’s dad and a perfect one for that matter, despite his childhood experiences, calls for more than just a compliment or an applause.

I’d recommend the book to anyone seeking to read further on the subject of child assault at homes or anyone seeking to read a book that will have them sit at the edge of the chair flipping through the pages of the book because they’re just curious to find out whether indeed the events in the book take a turnaround. This is the kind of book which one reads when clasping tight to their handkerchiefs because I won’t even dare lie to you that it’s not a sad one. I cried my heart out.

I really hope that I’ll soon gather the courage and read the remaining two since my pal has the entire sequel with her.

Have you read the book or any in the sequel; ‘The Lost Boy’ and ‘A Man Named Dave?’ What were your thoughts?




3 thoughts on “Book Review: A Child Called It by David Pelzer ”

  1. I agree with you. This was quite an emotional read. The book has so many controversies with some claiming that it was an exaggeration. However, I don’t think Dave could have lied about that stuff. Perhaps, the events that took place were so cruel that most people prefer to think of them as lies. Truly heartbreaking though. Great review!


    1. I saw that also but one of his brother’s confirmed that Dave was tortured by their mother and that leaves one without a doubt that indeed these events took place. The friend who lend me this copy also told me that she got to learn of Dave through an interview with Oprah


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