Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Child called It by Dave Pelzer

Book name : A child called it
Author: Dave Pelzer
1558743669 (ISBN13: 9781558743663)
First published in 1992 by HCI
Genre: Memoir
My rating : 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it."

Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive--dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.

My thoughts
A child called It is by no means an easy book to read.I had read reviews about the book and had wanted to pick it up for the longest time. Now that I am done with the book,i don't know what to think about it. It is a brutal book and definitely not something I would recommend to the weak-stomached. The language is simple and the narrative linear. Dave's description of the abuse his mother puts him through is graphic and cringe inducing many times.My stomach heaved as i read about Dave's mother treating him worse than a dog by starving him and asking him to drink ammonia and other insanely inhuman things.It read like a manual on torture 101. How can someone be so inhuman to do that to her own child ,I wonder. She had to be severely damaged person .

What I also wonder about is why did it take so long for the school's management to catch up on what was wrong with a kid that routinely came into school with bruises all over him.I read elsewhere that a huge controversy was kicked up with some people accusing Dave of imagining the abuse.Whatever the truth is,I just hope that Dave has healed.
The best thing about the book ,according to me was the matter-of-fact narration .Dave story abuse and recovery has been broken up into 3 books ,when it could have been easily condensed into a single gripping book. Hope is a thread that runs through most of the book and despite the inhuman things Dave's mother puts him through,I could see his spirit shining through.

In a strange way, the more Dave's mother abused him ,the more he craved for her attention.This is something I've read about elsewhere as well as a ploy abusers make use of to make sure that the circle of abuse continues,because all he needed to do was to tell someone about his mother's abuse for his ordeal to end.
Overall,a short,gripping read.Depressing too,but definitely a book I would recommend. I'll go with a rating of 3/5 for this book and would definitely want to grab a copy of the sequel just to read about how Dave managed to put back his bad childhood behind him and forged ahead with his life.

It's also heartening to learn about Dave's efforts at educating school children about abuse by visiting schools and interacting with children. One out of five children being abused is a statistic that makes me shudder.Dave is contributing in whatever small way he can and I salute his spirit.

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