” A Child Called ‘it'” written by Dave Pelzer, is a true story about a boys struggle through life as an abused, isolated child before reaching the age of 12. This book shows how much determination and human spirit a person can have, even while being the “third-worst case of child abuse” in the state of California.
The story takes place in 1960’s. A story about a young boy named David who lived the ideal “Brady Bunch” life. A boy “blessed” with a loving family and perfect parents and two other brothers. A family that showed love and support to one another. A family that took vacations and adventures together. These were distant memories of David’s “childhood”.
David now at the age of 4 and his “relationship”with his mother has changed beyond belief. A loving caring mother that once loved her son so very much, turned into the sick devil that she is. A woman who played sick “mind games” for her pleasure. It began when David didn’t finish doing his chores on time, his mother made him stand in the bathroom and look at the mirror and repeat hours at a time “I’m a bad boy”. This action soon brain washed four year old David into believing that he was a bad boy forever.
When standing in the bathroom didn’t please David’s mother anymore she began with slaps and kicks. She broke his arm and then told her husband that David had fallen out of the top bunk bed and broke his arm. She lied to keep herself out of trouble, but soon it was no longer necessary to lie. David soon became aware that he was no longer part of the family, and that he was just in the house to serve the family. He was treated lower than the dogs in the house.
When slaps and kicks no longer pleased her, she decided to invent new ways of hurting and torturing her child. One day when the family went out his mother decided to try something new. She told David to strip down into nothing, than she made him stand in the kitchen while she turned on the stove. She ordered him to climb on the stove, but he refused and tried to waste time because the rest of the family would soon be home. His mother in anger grabbed his arm and forced it on the stove, while his arm was burning she kept yelling at him to get on top of the stove. When he didn’t she pushed him down and beat him until they came home. David realized that he had won that game. David knew in order to survive he wouldn’t give into her, and never let her have the satisfaction of begging or screaming to her.
The year after the “burn incident” came the year known as the “The fight for food”. That year David had to wear the same smelly, torn clothes every day. He had bruises covering his body, and when people asked him about it, he remembered the brain-washing excuses his mother told him to say. School was David’s only outlet from his hell, (home). David’s mother would “forget” to feed him dinner every night, and breakfast for him would be his brothers left over milk from his cereal. Lunch would be two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a few carrot sticks. David would steal other kids lunches, to satisfy his hunger. When people realized David was the one stealing food, his mother was informed and that when checks would begin. Checks were when David came home from school, his mother would make him throw up everything he ate that day, and the remains would be his supper that night, and if nothing came up, he would starve.
Since David was no longer part of the family he was forced to sleep on a cot out in the garage without a blanket. In the winter to keep warm he would curl into a little ball and tuck his hands under his arm pits. To satisfy his thirst at night time he would suck a leaky spout in the garage.
Other “games” that David’s mother would do is, the gas chamber, where she would put a mixture of amonia and Clorox in a bucket and then lock David in the bathroom for several hours at a time. She made him lye in a bathtub of freezing cold water for hours and then make him sleep outside in the garage. She made him swallow amonia until he passed out.
The year before David’s 11th birthday, while he was cleaning the dishes, his mother threatened him that if he didn’t hurry up that she would kill him. She picked up a knife like she usually did, but by “accident she tripped while walking away and the knife flew out of his sight and before he knew what happened he fell to the floor and passed out. Waking up on the toilet, he found his mother cleaning his stab wound. That day she let him play outside for the first time in years. David to weak to even move and passed out several times from loss of blood. That day for the first time David felt like part of the family, because he got to eat dinner and sleep in a bed that night. The next day he thought things were going to change, but unfortunately this went back to normal, and he was the slave again.
After several more years of neglect and abuse, David was no longer David, he was an “It” a thing that is in a house. Not a person, not an animal but an it. David, made the decision that there was no God. That if there was a God, he was an asshole for letting such bad things happen to him. That year in school, his teachers decided to ask him for the real reasons why he dressed so badly and why he had bruises on him all the time. David finally spilled out the truth to all the teachers. Later that day a police came to pick up David from the school, and took David away to a Foster home. The police looked at David in the car while driving to the Foster home and said to him, “your free, and your mother is never going to hurt you again” David sat there in the seat as a tear ran down his cheek and said to himself “I’m free”.
Dave suffered an unimaginable upbringing. The product of constant abuse, it’s a wonder how a little boy could survive this tortured childhood.
Dave’s mother forbade his two brothers from acknowledging his presence. He ate the leftovers from the dog’s dish, and often went weeks without food. In one of his mother’s alcoholic rages, she pulled his arm out of it’s socket and did not take him to the hospital for 18 hours. On another occasion, she stabbed him and was too afraid to take him to the hospital for fear of exposing her secret.
At 8 years -old, Dave was again at the hands of his mother’s abuse this time his arm was burned on a gas stove. As he sat alone after the torture he could feel the pain in his arm, but he decided from that moment on he would never quit on himself. “If my mom didn’t feed me, that I’ll feed myself. If she beats me, I will tighten up parts of my body. I knew I had to take a stand.”
Finally, Dave found salvation when his teachers called the authorities. He thanks the people with social service, foster care, and his teachers for giving him the sense of value he knew he had within his tortured body.
Dave has accomplished a tremendous amount since his childhood days. He’s served nine years in the Armed Forces, got married, and now has a son. Both of Dave’s parents have passed away. He look’s at his mother’s life as a tragedy, and finds that he learned the absolute power of forgiveness from all he endured as a young boy.
Dave believes, “it’s always the smallest thing that makes a world of difference, the things that unfortunately we take for granted. When you almost die, you take nothing for granted…and that’s the glory of life. Dave’s latest book A Man named Dave completes the trilogy of his life story.
The book begins from the end of Pelzer’s struggle with child abuse. He then back tracks and tells his story. His mother, once a sweet and caring person, suddenly turns against Pelzer and becomes very abusive, but only to Pelzer and not his other brothers. Her abuse towards him becomes a charade of games, where she purely tortures him, sometimes to the point where one wonders how he was still alive. Although the book mainly focuses on the abuse Pelzer endures, the story explains his motivation and will to survive and defeat his mother. The story is very easy to read because it was developed from a child’s viewpoint. But in no way does this detract the quality of the book.