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A Child Called "It"

(Dave Pelzer #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  406,829 ratings  ·  16,930 reviews
Also see: Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE]
ACE #1

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 dea
Paperback, 184 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Health Communications Inc (first published 1995)
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Jason Society finds it hard to accept a mother is capable of abuse. Just look at some of the comments in the reviews to see this. She went onto abuse anothe…moreSociety finds it hard to accept a mother is capable of abuse. Just look at some of the comments in the reviews to see this. She went onto abuse another son after David left. The great sad fact is this kind of abuse, maybe not in severity, is quite common on goes unoticed because its just not accepted by society http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/74...(less)
Miranda H Khevin04, Dave Pelzer went on to write several more books about his childhood and how he persevered beyond the abuse he sustained and grew up to becom…moreKhevin04, Dave Pelzer went on to write several more books about his childhood and how he persevered beyond the abuse he sustained and grew up to become a motivational speaker and advocate for others with similar childhoods filled with abuse. I highly recommend that you read first "A Child Called 'It'" and then the sequel "The Lost Boy," which goes into the next phase of Dave's life. His younger brother Richard Pelzer also wrote an account of his own about growing up with their abusive mother. His book is called "A Brother's Journey." Richard Pelzer and Dave Pelzer have both written about how the abuse affected their lives as children and into adulthood. I use these books in my high school classroom (I am a teacher) and we have located several articles and interviews in addition to the books which help you better understand the Pelzers' unique and heart-wrenching accounts. Good luck!(less)

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 ·  406,829 ratings  ·  16,930 reviews

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Aug 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: The very credulous
Shelves: fiction, overrated
This book is very likely made up from start to finish. The events in it read like Pelzer imagined the worst child abuse possible and then said, "And it all happened to me!" Yeah, right. His brother and grandmother said in an interview that it was all rubbish, too, which casts more doubt upon the whole thing. Pelzer also bought his own book in bulk so the sales numbers would put it on the bestseller list -- he just doesn't have a whole lot of credibility. Perhaps worse than the fact that Pelzer i ...more
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
this book was the 'hostel', or 'saw IV' of memoirs. i don't really know why i read it. it was free, first of all. and, i guess like any normal human being, i cannot look away from a trainwreck.

'a child called it' is not very well written. you walk away with more questions than you do answers. you don't really learn anything. you do, however, come away with having read some very disturbing and disgusting passages that describe in detail a case of horrendous child abuse. i'm not exactly sure what
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book was horrible. Period. A waste of my time. You see, what really pisses me off with this book is this: I have known kids that have come from horribly abusive situations that are more genuine than Pelzer is in his "memoir."

The stories of his life in this book contradict one another, are extremely over-the-top and, dare I say, fabricated some. Now, before anyone wants to crucify me, look at the facts:

His family members were interviewed and stated that this was pure fantasy. (I can concede
Ahmad Sharabiani
A Child Called "It" (Dave Pelzer #1), Dave Pelzer

David James "Dave" Pelzer (born December 29, 1960 in San Francisco, California) is an American author, of several autobiographical and self-help books. He is best known for his 1995 memoir of childhood abuse, A Child Called "It".

It is the story of the early years of a boy's life, and a real and moving memory. It is Dave Pelzer's childhood, under torture and brutal starvation by his mother (who was unstable and constantly intoxicated). From the mot
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily the most terrifying book I've ever read. I think I had literally repressed the memory of it, until I randomly happened across the title this week.

I experienced this book in a fairly odd way, during a week-long cheerleading camp my sophomore year of high school. My coach was reading it and somehow ended up reading the entire book aloud to my squad during breaks and at night. Once she started, we were all addicted and spent every free moment listening with rapt and horrified attention.

I r
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-year-book
A Child Called "It" HCI, 1995 $9.95
By Dave Pelzer ISBN 1558743669
One very common issue that goes around in our world is child abuse, it happens everywhere and it is something that is horrible and cannot be stopped. Dave Pelzer, the author of the autobiographical book, A Child Called It, shows the very dark corners of child abuse by viewing to the readers his horrific life as a young boy living with his mother that constantly abused him.
Dave Pelzer, who lived with his unstable, disturbed, alcoh
Maria Elmvang
Jul 05, 2007 rated it did not like it
I did not like this book. But that's okay. You're not supposed to like it. It's a horrible, horrible book. A trainwreck of a book. I wanted to look away, but just couldn't. I know it's the first part in a trilogy, but I doubt I'm going to read the other two books. It was too, too depressing.

Actually, the person I got most angry with was the father. The mother was obviously sick and needed help. There's no other explanation for the awful things she subjected her son to. But what's the father's ex
`. kateelynn *
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Oh my god, what can I possibly say about this book? When I first started reading this book last year, I was just so hooked to it and I just wanted to know everything about this book. It was all about this author's childhood gone horrible with the extreme abuse, the torture and suffering. I really couldn't believe my eyes, the author described like, everything he went through, all the pain he had to go through, how he felt and everything. I could really understand how he felt but one thing about ...more
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I've sat with this book on my desk for a couple weeks, unable to decide what I would write for a review. I'm wholly torn between this being one of my most-asked-for and least-favorite-ever titles. I wish the amount of times I heard "this was the first book I liked" (and the amount of times it's been billed/stolen from the library) corresponded to its quality, but I truly found it very short on redeeming qualities. Eric's Goodreads review says pretty much what I would say.

The writing was cliched
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-the-best
Okay, this is going to be a short and sweet review since it's a non-fictional autobiography and you can't really critique things like characters and story. But I'm going to say what I can...

This book was a hard one to read yet I couldn't put it down. There's a different something in Dave's story that will keep different people reading. Mine was: Why? I wanted to know why his mother did this. I wanted to know what made her do it. I wanted to know how she could to it. And I wanted to know why it w
Sandy Yang
Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: future/present psychologists, caring people <3
A Child Called "It":One Child's Courage to Survive
Dave Pelzer
Health Communications, Inc., 1993, 153 pp., $9.95
ISBN 1-55874-366-9

Have your parents ever abused you? In The Child Called "It", a true story that can bring tears to the eyes of anyone with a beating heart, Dave, the protagonist, is abused in the most horrifying ways possible. What kind of mother would want to hurt their own little child? David's mom's actions can prove that wrong.
"Once, I ate some leftover pork. Hours later I bent o
Whitney Atkinson
It feels wrong quantifying this with a star rating, but this book was one of the oldest on my TBR and I'm glad I got to it. I do with that this trilogy was consolidated into one book with the author's current-day perspective sprinkled it, because as is, it's a short collection of what happened to him without any real perspective or understanding of it until a tacked-on epilogue. It was still heartbreaking and confusing--and I can't tell who I hate more, the abusive mom or the dad who stood by an ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Don by: Was my cousins reading assignment and was helping him.
I'm a little annoyed...

Tonight I read a book entitled "A Chiled Called 'It'" and I believe it's fiction, to say the least.

"A Child Called 'It'" is a story about a boy who survives horrendous over-the-top abuse at the hands of his mother. It basically reads as a long list of horrors that the author describes in grisly detail and sometimes depicts with startling clarity...

My problems with the book are many, For the sake of brevity however, I'll just list a few:

--He couldn't remember the color of h
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, favorites
I've been avoiding this book since I was a teenager. I did so because this is a trigger for me and I knew I couldn't handle it. But...I figured that it's been two years since I cut my mother out of my life and that I finally feel free. And strong... well, at least strong enough to face each day. That's got to be better than nothing.

Anyway, this isn't about me so instead I'll say that no matter what, I'm glad I read it. I feel I have a duty to face other true stories of horrific child abuse, if o
Maiden Misty's Musings
Dec 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
This has been one of the hardest books I have ever read. The amount of abuse this so-called mother (womb provider) put this child through is unthinkable. If there is a hell, I hope this human garbage has a space reserved in the hottest section. Oh, don't think I have forgotten about David's father (sperm donor). He needs to have a seat next to her. If anything, he is worse. He knew what his son was going through and CHOSE to ignore it. CHOSE not to provide a safe place for his child. I hope Davi ...more
Please note: Before I get into this review I want to make it very clear that I believe that David Pelzer was abused and did go through serious trauma as a child. However, by allowing this book to be published and available to the public, he has given room for the details of the abuse suffered, to be open to speculation.
Warning of Spoilers.
A Child Called It was written 1995, is a first-hand account of the abuse Pelzer suffered from the ages of 4 to 12, at the hands of his alcoholic mother. He de
YIKES. This is a man's account of the severe abuse he suffered as a young child through the hands of his mother. Apparently, there is some doubt on whether the story is actually true, or whether the author merely made the whole thing up. I don't know enough about the controversy to speculate, so I will just give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume this is indeed a factual memoir of his childhood. If that is the case, then he most certainly deserves major admiration for having overcome ...more
Reading_ Tamishly
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ever read a non-fiction that ends with a cliffhanger?
Well, this is one and had me going frantically searching for it's sequel. And blessed be the book, it became mine asap.

This memoir is one heartbreaking read narrating in details about the physical and emotional abuse of Dave Pelzer ever since he was 7 years old. Things never became better for this boy. His only hope, his dad, left him too unable to bear the taunts of his wife.
I never would have thought how cruel and evil a mother can be towa
Dec 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Note: this book is listed as one of the most popular books to be banned, over the past decade, from both schools and private libraries. Support freedom of expression by reading and buying banned books! ❤️📚
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020, series
This is a Biography Memoir/Non-fiction, and this is the first book in the Dave Pelzer series. This is a very short and quick read. I really loved this book, but the subject of this book is hard to read. The way the book is written is easy to read, but the subject is not of people that gets upsets by hard to read subjects. My childhood was not great, and I had a Mother that had mental health issues and she did drugs/drink way to much. I was very lucky because I had a strong Grandmother that would ...more
Dec 31, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: my friends
Recommended to Carrie by: Ron
I know it's not nice to burn, stab, poison, starve or otherwise torture your kid, but damn! If THAT can't motivate a boy to do the dishes in less than half an hour, how's he ever gonna learn?!

Seriously, though. I'm enjoying this short little autobiography from a "glad it wasn't me" perspective. The only problem is I can't believe a book so poorly edited became a New York Times Bestseller. The man uses commas like they're going out of style and uses "everyday" instead of "every day." [Everyday i
Jeannifer Floyd
My book review is over A Child Called “IT” By: Dave Pelzer. This book is a true story about a child’s devastating childhood in which he experienced child abuse physically and verbally.
David’s child abuse first started when he was only two and a half years old, and continued for ten years after that.David’s abuse came from his mother who once was a loving woman that cared for her children and was willing to do anything for them and her husband. Quickly all the good in his mother turned to bad.Da
destiny ♡ howling libraries
I read this many years ago, and while it is a book that has really stayed with me, I don't know if I would ever be willing to put myself through the heartache of rereading it. A Child Called "It" is a memoir highlighting Dave's childhood, and it describes some of the most godawful abuse I could ever imagine. I remember raging and sobbing through the majority of the book, and that was YEARS ago; now that I'm an adult, and a mother, and these things have become so much more realistic and impactful ...more
J. Kahele
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a story of a boy named David who endured the worst abuse I had ever read about, by the hand of the very person who gave him life, his mother.

I wanted so badly to pluck David out of the story and hide him away from this vicious woman who to me was never truly a mother, but a monster who took her anger out on a weak small child.

Being able to push out a baby does not make you a mother. It's loving and nurturing that baby, protecting that child to the bitter end.

I am not a violen
Diane in Australia
I know there is a controversy as to whether Dave is telling the truth in this book, or not. I know his brother wrote a book (A Brother's Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse) that corroborates Dave's memories. On the other hand, some of his relatives say that he was the problem, not his mother.

It is written from the viewpoint of Dave as a child, which may be why some readers find the writing to be childish. Not sure if he intended it to be that way, or if he truly is just a terrible writer.

Sep 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: high-school

Recommended by a friend in orchestra, this book is supposed to be "really really good".

I finished it in 3 hours because it was short and to the point. Yet I must say this book is extremely poorly written. It is structured in a sense similar to a pointless shopping list: so first my mother did this to me, then she did this, I was starving, afterwards she did this and I felt so terrible. Pelzer basically just described, no scratch that, he stated the unfortunate things that have happened to hi
Jacqueline Wheeler
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Why are bad people able to have children? 😢

I picked up this book based off of recommendations from a bunch of my friends and I was not disappointed. This is a memoir about one of the worst 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 becau
Harry Costea
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting. It showed me what really goes on in some families in this world. It also showed me to never take anything that i have for granted because some kids have that kind of life at home.
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: book-club
I read A child called "It" for my fifth book report. This is a heart wrenching true story about the author of the book when he was a kid. His name is David Pelzer and he is the main character in the book. He gets abused by his mom everyday without a break. She takes her frustrations out on him for no reason. It is one of the saddest books I have ever read. In parts it is so sad you hardly hold back the tears for the pain that this little kid is feeling. It is even more sad because it is real. He ...more
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook-en
What a sad story of child abuse. It makes you want to only hugg little Dave and help him out of the situation. The book was a very easy read (not the subject of course). It made me mad to think about that spineless dad, he was a grown up and should have done something. A must read for everybody!
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An author best known for his 1995 memoir of childhood abuse, A Child Called It.

At the age of 12, Dave was removed from an abusive home and placed in a series of foster homes. In 1979, he joined the Air Force and later became an author of memoirs and self-improvement books.


August 2017 - We are very excited to announce that writer/producer David Go

Other books in the series

Dave Pelzer (4 books)
  • The Lost Boy (Dave Pelzer #2)
  • The Privilege of Youth: A Teenager's Story (Dave Pelzer #2.5)
  • A Man Named Dave (Dave Pelzer #3)

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