Book review: A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer


Has a book ever made you feel so many things at once that you felt like rocking back and forth in a dark corner? That’s how I felt while reading A Child Called It

This book was gifted to me by a friend of my boyfriend. She had this pensive look on her face while she was handing it over, which confused me at first but is completely understandable now. 

My copy is old and a bit battered which is incredibly fitting considering the subject matter. 

The first few pages of A Child Called It were so horrific that I had go online to confirm that this book was a memoir and not a work of fiction. 

The contrast in the early years of Dave’s life is almost unbelievable. They had an idyllic family life. They type that would make most people jealous. Camping trips and magical Christmases a plenty. 

It seems that his mother went through a major depressive episode but the details surrounding her personality flip are rather vague. What was so harrowing was the more she abused him the more he tried to please her and in turn the harder he tried, than angrier she became. 

The father doesn’t seem to feature much. He isn’t physically abusive but his lack of action leads me to place as much of the blame on him. I don’t understand how he could sit back and watch all this happening. How could you be so devoid of emotion? If I saw someone kicking a dog in the street I’d try and stop them. This is your child and you act like all this is just a mere inconvenience! 

Things get so bad for Dave that he resorts to stealing food from the garbage bins in his own house. He manages to just about scrape by until “mother” catches him and secretly starts sprinkling ammonia in with the food which makes him violently ill. 

There’s particularly shocking moment involving a knife and even then Dave is more concerned with making sure “mother” knows that he forgives her than for his own safety. His father’s reaction to this “accident was horrific. I actually screamed at the book at this point. His lack of empathy was just maddening. 

The most incredible part of A Child Called It was Dave’s will to live. I think in a similar situation I’d have just given up. How do you carry on when your own mother doesn’t think your even worthy of a name, when she thinks you’re an “It.”? 

At Dave’s lowest he point he imagines himself as Superman. Hoping that somehow could just fly away from his situation. The truth is he is stronger than any fictional caped hero could ever be. 

Here on Go Book Yourself I’ve read and reviewed some really weird stuff. There was a stage where I intentionally tried to find the most fucked up shit to read in an effort to find something finally shocked me. Well I think I’ve found that book. 

A Child Called It was incredibly hard to read but at the same time I’m glad that I eventually got around to reading it. I think it’s a book that everyone should read. We can sometimes forget that this sort of thing happens all the time behind closed doors. It might not be this severe but that’s beside the point. 

It’s only when we’re armed with the knowledge of can happen that we can do something about it. 

The two sequels were included in this edition but I’ve decided to stop at the first for now. I feel like this is the sort of book that needs reflecting on. I may return to Dave’s world at some stage but at the minute this book has left me raw so I need time to recover.



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