Pelzer, D. (2004). A child called It. Orion House. London
‘A child called It’ written by Dave Pelzer is his own biography. The story tells about how his mother who was a mentally disturbed alcoholic mother started abusing him at the tender age of four years. As he was loved and cherished by both his parents before that, it was quite a shock to him when it started happening. At the beginning of the story, Dave’s family consisted of his father; a fireman who had to spend days away from his home, his mother who was the homemaker and two elder brothers. At first when she started abusing him, it was mostly when no one else was at home, but later on it went to the level when his mother would do as she please in front of the whole family even. She abused him in ways unimaginable to a human mind: making him starve for days on end, making him eat his baby brother’s feces, burning his hand over the stove, stabbing him in the stomach and making him drink ammonia and other household cleaning liquids. As innocent as he was, Dave believed that it was normal happenings, and most of the time he believed he was called ‘The Boy’ and later on ‘It’ because he was unworthy of love and he deserved all that was happening to him.
Dave got no assistance from his father at all, and so school became a safe haven for him. There was no torture for him when he was there. The school nurse and class teachers were keeping an eye on him. As they began to understand that Dave was being abused at home, they started keeping a record of all the bruising, swellings and cuts on his body. Finally when they could not hold any longer two of Dave's 5th grade teachers risked their careers and notified authorities, saving Dave's life.
The biography of Dave Pelzer is one of the most heart-wrenching stories I have read so far. The humiliation and torture Dave is put through by his own mother is unimaginable and inhuman. Although Dave was transferred to foster care under the government’s aid, it does not make Dave a meek and lost personality. Dave’s internal strength and caring nature can be seen by the way he forgives his mother when she was near death’s door.
Each and every day we hear about various abusings innocent little children are subjected to. Reading it on the newspaper or a magazine is painful too; but imagine reading it from a text written by the person who was subjected to it; one who has gone through all the hurt and pain. In most cases of child abuse which one hears, there is usually a reason why the person inflicts the pain on the child: homelessness, poverty, child being illegitimate or a child born out of a painful experience for the mother itself. In the case of Dave there is no such known reason. The family was being looked after well by Dave’s father who had a good job. They had their own house to live. And also there were not many children in the family, nor was the mother subjected to any hardships or abuse by Dave’s father. The only thing is that the father is too scared to say anything against the violent nature of the mother.
Angels do come in many forms. For Dave, the angel who came to help him came in the form of Steven E. Ziegler, his fifth grade teacher. When he began noticing numerous bruises on little Dave’s body on countless occasions, something nagged him. It was Dave’s luck that he had such a caring and kind teacher. He could have been totally wiped off the face of the earth if Ziegler had not come into his life.
‘It’ is an opener as to the inside of a family which created a ‘hell’ for little Dave. There would be a number of such places like that around the world. It is with Dave Pelzer’s story that I started taking so much interest in abused children. A must for everyone to read. Dave, the ‘survivor’ had relayed his biography in such vivid details. No human’s eyes can be dry as he/she reads this book.