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A Child Called "It"

(Dave Pelzer #1)

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  349,607 ratings  ·  15,078 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 dead.
Paperback, 184 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Health Communications Inc
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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…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)
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…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

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4.10  · 
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 ·  349,607 ratings  ·  15,078 reviews

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Aug 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: The very credulous
Shelves: overrated, fiction
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
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
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
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
Nov 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Why the hell did I pick this book up? It was depressing as hell and it was poorly written. It chronicles the abuse this little boy named David went through as a child. And I think abuse is too mild a term for what he went through. It was horrible. Reading the torture he endured at the hand of his own family was painful.

I came away from this book depressed. And I had several thoughts that kept running through my head. What was the point of this book? It almost seemed like a shrink told him to wr
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Paul O'Neill
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love a book that stands for something. I admire people who have to suffer through such unspeakable acts, but to come out on the other side and take action to help raise awareness is very noble indeed.

This book had me cringing in disgust. Is it well written? No. Does it need to be? No.

Unbelievable that this sort of thing goes on in our / every society.

This book has made me think and feel. I'd highly recommend it, just not for the squemish!!
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.
Samantha James
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pelzer weaves a horrifying tale of abuse, neglect, and torture he undergoes as a child at the hands of his psychotic mother. What is most appalling about this book lays behind the truth of the story. Dave Pelzer’s entire tale comes together from the real-life experiences of the author. The bravery shown by one little boy left me speechless.

The book begins when Dave is a tiny child. If I am not mistaken, he is around the age of four or five. He is young, naïve, and impressionable. The author live
Sep 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is a book about a child his name is David. He is telling about his life when he was young. He had three brothers and mom and a dad. His dad was a local firefighter and his mom was a stay at mom kind of person.
They had a really good life they went on vacations and had picnics.
He looked up to his dad and loved his mom very much. He use to been able to play with his brothers but his dad stared to not come home because of his job he had to stay there 24/7. So his mom started to take out her fr
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to read
Recommended to Lei by: my drama teacher
This book was really sad. The fact that it was a real story made it way sadder. At one point when i was reading the part about the bathroom and mirror treatment, i almost cried. I can't believe that anyone would do such things to their own flesh and blood.If i was David, i would have tried to run away or tell somebody at my school of the things that were happening at home.
The person that i actually hated more that the mother in the book was David's father.How can you sit around watching a sick p
Sam Ciuffardi
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first found out about this book when I saw my mother reading it. She was making weird faces and sometimes crying. But when she finished is when I realized why she made those faces and why she cried.

"A Child Called 'It'" really is my favourite book. It's a book about a child's worst nightmare. What he goes through is something no child should go through.....
When I first picked up this book, I never know that reading it would be this traumatic. It is a very short read but I seriously have to say that it is not the kind of book that you read for pleasure. Some parts of it were very disturbing, which when coupled with vivid details of the abuse that the author had to endure, making it one of the most depressing books I ever read.

A Child Called “It” portrayed the childhood life of Dave Pelzer, where he was severely abused by his own mother. The way it
Rachel Aranda
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-rentals
Definitely the most powerful book in the trilogy. It is a solid 3.5 rating to me. It can be a difficult read at times because of how graphic the violence is, but that helps show all aspects of the abuse he went through as an child. Mr. Pelzer is a motivational speaker about helping abused children and improving the foster care system getting better. Due to this fact and that he is so emotionally invested in his story, it seems that the story is weighed down at times by him needing to include so ...more
Jun 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
i totally cried on every page it's a sad and horrifying story. But the way it's written makes more of an inspiration than a "sob story". it gives you hope and makes you appreciate the life you have. It also reminds people that there are abusive parents out there so we should all have our eyes open for the signs.

Nojood Alsudairi
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
I am sorry but this is too much. It just cannot be true.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: nobody under the age of 11
Recommended to Neaka by: my aunt. even though she didn't know what it was about.
I really don't know what to say about this book. It was amazing, depressing, horrible and heartbreaking all at the same time. I remember when I read it too. I was at my cousins house in LA, and I was bored, so my aunt when into my cousin's room and found me some books. A Child Called "It" was one of them. I still recall how I sat there in my other cousin's room, completely devoured in it. I was in fourth grade, so I don't think I fully comprehended the severity of what happened to David in the b ...more
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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 Gol

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)
“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul.” 455 likes
“Inside, my soul became so cold I hated everything. I even despised the sun, for I knew I would never be able to play in its warm presence. I cringed with hate whenever I heard other children laughing, as they played outside. My stomach coiled whenever I smelled food that was about to be served to somebody else, knowing it wasn't for me.” 122 likes
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