A Child Called It Review Essay

Summary of A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

  • Length: 372 words (1.1 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
A Child Called 'It'

'You are a nobody! An It!?(Pelzer 140). These were the raw, disheartened remarks that came from the disgusting coldhearted mother's mouth. These painful hurting remarks at her son was how the book got its title and that's what interested me in reading this book. A Child Called 'It', by Dave Pelzer, is a life-changing story about, a young boy who is starved, beat, and tortured by his mother and her cruel games, yet he manages to turn his life around when he grows up. This young boy uses his faith, self-discipline, and will power to overrule his mother's destruction and life damaging obstacles.
David was a young boy who got beaten everyday. He was very skinny, bony, and was beaten everyday. David wore threadbare clothing, he looked as if he hadn't changed or washed his clothes in months. This was the truth, his mother starved him and abused him. She never washed his clothes to embarrass him. This worked at first when people started making fun of him, but David got used to it. Bullies started beating the scrawny boy up everyday, it became a routine, but he was so frail and weak from being starved he couldn?t fight back. David looked muddled, he had a very terrible physical journey that made him mentally stronger.
Loving God and hating his own mother kept David strong. David loved God, he prayed every night to God. He hated his mother so much he wanted to outthink her tricks, he did. He used different tactics like over exaggerating his pain when he got beat, putting a wet cloth over his mouth when his mother put cleaning products in a room with him. David kept counting time in his head in order to make the time pass faster.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Summary of A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer." 123HelpMe.com. 13 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
A child Called It by Dave Pelzer Essay - One Child’s Courage to Survive: “ A Child Called It ” Abstract This is one of the best, yet saddest books that I have ever read. There are so many bad things out there that are happening to good people. We just have no idea. You never know what is going on behind closed doors. I am so lucky not to have experienced anything like this growing up. There is so much reality in this book, but I never knew that reality was ever this awful. It brought me to a realization that I have never known before....   [tags: essays research papers]2130 words
(6.1 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Essay about The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer - The author wrote a book about what he went through as a young boy so many years ago and how he overcame so many problems that he went through. Dave Pelzer name is actually David James Pelzer born on December 29, 1960 at San Francisco, California. David’s father Stephen Joseph Pelzer was a fireman of San Francisco and in 1980 he past away. Mother is Catherine Roerva the person that was responsible for mistreating David for so many years. David had to live in a foster home until the age of eighteen years old....   [tags: child abuse, story analysis]1405 words
(4 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer Essay - A Child Called “It”      The book A Child Called “It” was written by Dave Pelzer. “In the years before I was abused, my family was the “Brady Bunch” of the 1960s. My two brothers and I were blessed with the perfect parents. Our every whim was fulfilled with love and care.” These are Dave’s words about his family before he was abused by his mother. Dave Pelzer has experienced a truly extraordinary life. As a child, he was abused by his alcoholic mother, which included physical torture, mental cruelty, and near starvation....   [tags: A Child Called It Dave Pelzer]665 words
(1.9 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer Essay - The book I read is called A Child Called It. It is written by Dave Pelzer. The theme of this book is to keep hope alive. You should have faith and dreams to have something to look forward to in your future especially when you feel you can’t go on any more. Like Dave, he felt trapped as if he was never going to be free. He used his dreams and illusions every time he was hurting to help him get away from the pain. This is what kept this little boy alive. He had something to reach for and never quit....   [tags: A Child Called It Dave Pelzer]694 words
(2 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
A Child Called It By Dave Pelzer Essay - A Child Called "It", by Dave Pelzer, is a first person narrative of a child’s struggle through a traumatic abused childhood. The book begins with Dave telling us about his last day at his Mother’s house before he was taken away by law enforcement. At first I could not understand why he had started at the end of his tale, but after reading the entire book it was clear to me that it was easier to read it knowing there indeed was a light at the end of the dark tunnel. This horrific account of extreme abuse leaves us with a great number of questions which unfortunately we do not have answers for....   [tags: Dave Pelzer]1134 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
A Child Called 'It' By Dave Pelzer Essay - A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer is an intriguing, yet intimidating journey through the torturing childhood of the author himself. Dave being the outcast of his own family and being a victim of severe parental abuse, will leave you in suspense as you wait with anticipation for the end of this little boys struggle to live. This book is a wonderful, and uniquely inspiring story that is sure to touch your heart. Dave Pelzer, a four-year-old boy, who lived with both of his parents and two siblings, had a relatively normal life....   [tags: IT Pelzer Child Abuse]909 words
(2.6 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
The Capability Of individualized Courage to Survive In David Pelzer’s A Child Called It - The Capability Of individualized Courage to Survive In David Pelzer’s "A Child Called It." “I’m free?” the optimistic contemplations inside young David’s mind as he rides away in the security of the police car. Regardless of how many times his mother “Played the game,” with him, he refused to give her the satisfaction of victory. Along with approximately one in every five children, Davis underwent the abuse, negligence, and shuffling in the foster system. As the protagonist of the autobiography “A Child Called “It” David Pelzer writes about surviving a difficult childhood, where hones skills that ultimately lead him to a bright future....   [tags: david pelzer, a child called it]
:: 6 Works Cited
2185 words
(6.2 pages)
Term Papers[preview]
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer Essay - In the book “A Child Called It” by Dave Pelzer, Dave is remembering his childhood, and the point it turned into a living nightmare, one in which his once loving mother falls prey to her alcoholism. Dave had a joyful childhood for a while, a loving mother and father and brothers he could play with. It was when his mother’s addiction and his father’s cowardice began, that Dave’s life was irrevocably changed. Dave became the sole target of his mother’s abuse, he was put through extreme torture, physical, metal, and emotional....   [tags: alcoholism, child abuse]563 words
(1.6 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
A Child Called It, The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave Essay - For this report, I have read all three of Dave Pelzer's books about his life: A Child Called “It”, The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave. A Child Called “It” chronicles Dave's life as a child, and is told from that viewpoint. From his earliest recollections of a relatively happy life with "the Mommy" to his life and death struggle with "The Mother", this book details the horror of Dave’s dehumanizing existence. Going far beyond “typical” physical, emotional and psychological abuses, Dave’s story tells of intentional starvation, forced coprophagia, poisoning and much more....   [tags: Dave Pelzer]
:: 7 Works Cited
2458 words
(7 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
A Child Called It By Dave Pelzer Essay - A Child Called It was about the struggles of a young boy named Dave Pelzer. Dave was put through hard times and at some point lost hope in his dreams and doubted the humanity of mankind, but in the end because of his strong will he was able to overcome his problems and make a better life for himself. When Dave was younger him and his brothers, Ronald and Stan were happy in a normal family with a loving mom and dad, but as years passed things started to change. Dave’s parents became alcoholics. His father never came home and his mother had lost her brightness and love of life, resorting to alcohol to get through the day....   [tags: essays research papers]581 words
(1.7 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]

Related Searches

Dave Pelzer         Young Boy         Skinny         Fight         Clothes         Mouth         Bathroom         Routine        

When anyone was home David's dreadful mother would only do half the things to him.
David spent most of his time in the house. He would stay in the bathroom all day unless his sick mother had something for him to do, like chores or getting 'mothers games' done to him. Everyday he had to take a frozen cold bath that he sat in for hours, and then sit out side in the shade.

Average Overall Rating: 4.5
Total Votes: 4001


1. Is Dave Pelzer’s Story True?


From time to time people have questioned whether Pelzer’s story is true. Some began to have doubts in the wake of the publication in recent years of several striking memoirs that later turned out to be fake. A Million Little Pieces (2003), for example, by James Frey, in which Frey told a story of his drug addiction and recovery, was later shown to be false in many respects. Similarly, Margaret B. Jones’s memoir  Love and Consequences (2008), about a girl growing  up in Los Angeles amidst drug dealers and gangs, was later shown to be a complete fabrication. Critics of Pelzer point to statements made by Pelzer’s brother Stephen (who is called Stan in the memoir) that Dave was never abused. In “Dysfunction for Dollars,” a New York Times article by Pat Jordan,  Stephen denies for example that Dave was ever stabbed by his mother: “'’Please!'’ he says. ‘That never happened.’ As a witness to the stabbing incident, Stephen says: ‘I saw mom cutting food when David grabbed her arm and got a small cut from the knife. There wasn't even any blood, yet he screamed, 'Mommy stabbed me!'’'' 


However, this article was written in 2002, before the publication of a memoir called A Brother’s Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse, by Richard B. Pelzer, Dave’s younger brother (Russell in A Child Called “It”) in 2005. Richard Pelzer confirms that Dave was abused. He also writes that after Dave was taken away, his mother started to take out her anger on him, and he became the abused one, suffering for years, just as Dave had done. 


There really is no reason at all to doubt Dave’s story. As Stephen E. Ziegler, Dave’s former teacher, writes in a note appended to A Child Called “It,” that the case of Dave was “the third-worst case of child abuse on record in the entire state of California.”  


2. What Is “Misery Lit”?


“Misery lit” is the popular name given to a subgenre of the memoir that emerged following Pelzer’s A Child Called It (1995). Some also trace the origin of “misery lit” to Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (1996), a memoir of his deprived childhood in Ireland (1996). 


As a result of the success of these memoirs, book publishers discovered that there was a huge market for autobiographical stories in which people told of the horrible abuse they suffered in childhood and adolescence. Publishers prefer to describe these books as “inspirational memoirs” rather than “misery lit.” 


These books tend to follow a familiar pattern. The abuse is described in sickening detail, but the overall theme, as in all of Pelzer’s books, is triumph over adversity, the “triumph of the human spirit over seemingly insurmountable odds,” as Pelzer puts it. The books are therefore meant to be inspirational, to encourage others to rise above their own misfortunes. However, it seems that many people read them for their shock value, fascinated by the horror of it all. It is not uncommon, for example, for these books to include graphic accounts of childhood sexual abuse (which is the one form of abuse that Dave Pelzer was not forced to suffer). 


These books are often written in very simple language (like A Child Called “It”) and are read, so the conventional wisdom goes, by people who do not normally read or buy books. They do sell in phenomenally large numbers. A Child Called “It” and its two sequels spent a total of 448 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Most reader are thought to be female. 


“Misery lit” has become popular in Britain as well as the United States. Writing in the Guardian, Esther Addley noted that in Britain, the misery lit genre can be recognized by its cover: “the volumes invariably carry a washed-out close-up of a particularly pretty child's face on a pale background, with the title of the book in handwritten script.” The first part of this description applies very exactly to Pelzer’s The Lost Boy, the first sequel to A Child Called “It.”


3. How Extensive Is Child Abuse Today?


Although Pelzer’s case may be extreme, it is by no means unique. According to statistics cited on the Web site Childhelp, there are three million reports of child abuse made every year in the United States. This is up from 2.5 million in 1990. Neglect (failure to meet a child’s basic needs) by parents or guardians amount to over half of all cases of child abuse. Many parents who neglect their children may have inadequate knowledge of how to raise a child, or they may have been abused themselves as children. 


In 2007, there were nearly five child deaths per day due to abuse and neglect. Most of these deaths were of children under the age of four. Over two-thirds of abused children are abused by members of their own family. As Pelzer puts it in his 1995  essay, “Perspectives on Child Abuse” (appended to A Child Called “It”) “Today there are millions [of children] in our country in desperate need of help” (p. 166). 


Abused children face greater hurdles in life than others. The abuse has consequences, such as higher rates of teen pregnancy and alcohol and drug abuse. An estimated 14 percent of men in prison in the United States were abused as children. For women, the figure is 36 percent. 


There has been progress in the reporting of child abuse since the 1960s and 1970s, when Dave Pelzer was abused. In 2005, Richard B. Pelzer, Dave’s brother stated in A Brother’s Journey, his own memoir of the abuse he endured after Dave was taken away, “In today’s environment, this kind of abuse could rarely go on for as long as it did. Given the amount of awareness now present in our schools, we as a community would not allow it to happen” (p. 261). However, as the statistics show, there is still a very long way to go. 


4. What Are the Causes of Child Abuse? 


What causes a parent to abuse his or her child is a complex issue. However, it is known that substance abuse can be a major factor. A study by J. Michael Murphy and associates, published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect in 1991, found that in a sample of 206 cases of serious child abuse or neglect brought before a juvenile court, in nearly 50 percent of the cases, at least one of the parents had a problem with either alcohol or drugs such as cocaine and heroin. In another 1991 study, “Parental Substance Abuse and the Nature of Child Maltreatment,” published in the same journal by Richard Famularo, Roberrt Kinscherff, and Terence Fenton, the researchers found that in 190 randomly selected cases in which the state took custody of the children because of child maltreatment, 67 percent of these cases involved parents who were substance abusers. The study revealed a clear association between alcohol abuse and physical maltreatment. 


These findings shed some light on the causes of the abuse of Dave Pelzer. His mother certainly, and possibly his father, too, were alcoholics. When Pelzer recounts the onset of the abuse from his mother, he writes that she would not get dressed and would lie all day on the couch watching TV, leaving only to “get another drink or heat leftover food” (p. 30).  She and her husband, even in happier times, would often drink “from mid-afternoon, until  my brothers and I climbed  into bed” (p. 34). In an early incident of abuse, “Mother’s eyes were glazed and red, and her breath smelled of booze” (p. 34). Of his father, Pelzer notes that when the atmosphere in the house got too much for him, he would go away to be on his own, presumably (Pelzer says) to a bar somewhere. When husband and wife argue at night it is clear to Dave that “they were both drunk” (p. 51). 


This is not to say that had Dave’s parents not drunk so much, there would have been no abuse, but the alcoholism was beyond doubt a contributing factor. 


5. What Are the Literary Merits of A Child Called “It”?


A Child Called “It” was a huge best-seller but this was more because of its shocking contents than its literary style. Although Pelzer claims on his  Web site that two of his books have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, this is not in fact the case. It is true that his publisher did submit his books to the Pulitzer committee but that in itself does not constitute a nomination, since anyone can submit a book in this way. The term “Pulitzer-nominated” is reserved for the few books that appear on the judges’ short-list. 


Whatever its shock value, or its effectiveness in creating more awareness of the problem of child abuse, A Child Called “It” is unlikely to find a place on the literary fiction shelves. Its melodramatic, saccharine style has more in common with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series than with any works of high literary merit. Pelzer recounts one ugly incident after another with little reflection or analysis beyond what he reconstructs, more than twenty years after the fact, of what the child was feeling as the abuse went on. After the horror story is over, many readers will feel that an opportunity to probe more deeply into the situation in the Pelzer home has been missed. 


One thought on “A Child Called It Review Essay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *