Friday, December 11, 2009

A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer

There is much to respect about Dave Pelzer. He served his country during Desert Storm and has received commendations from Presidents Reagan, Bush the First and Clinton for his work as a motivational speaker. His other honors include being named California's Volunteer of the Year in 1990, one of 1993's Ten Outstanding Young Americans and one of the Outstanding Young Persons of the World for 1994. He is a best selling author and tells his story to the world in the book, A Child Called "It". He is the survivor of the third worst case of child abuse in California history.

Dave's powerful story begins on March 5, 1973 when Dave is 12 years old. He describes his morning before school when he has 20 minutes to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen if he has any hopes of eating that morning. Dave explains how his mother starves him as one of her many horrible "punishments". Dave has not eaten since lunch the day before. When Dave takes his hand out of the scalding dish water for a second, his mother catches him. As soon as his mother sees his hands out of the water she smashes his head into the kitchen counter. Dave falls and cries to stop his mother from hitting him again; he knows his mother gets satisfaction from his pain so he doesn't try to be tough.

His mother gives him a half eaten bowl of Lucky Charms and takes him, along with his brothers, to school. When Dave arrives at school he is late and his mother yells at him to tell the school nurse he ran into a door if she asks what happened to him. Since Dave is late to school he has to go see the school nurse which turns out to be a huge turning point in Dave's life because the nurse finally decides to help him. When the nurse sees the huge wound on Dave's head she asks what happened. Of course Dave told her just what his mom instructed him to say. The nurse again does not belief him because this is not the first time Dave has come to her office.

She pulls out the boy's record that includes bruises, cuts, malnutrition and, of course, the stab wound. The nurse tells the school principal and calls the police. Dave is taken to the San Mateo Juvenile Department Center never to return home. Dave, in his story, tells us his mother was not always abusive. He describes her as being warm and loving.

He tells us his mother would leave on trips and everything was nice. His mother changed when he was just four years old. He was never too sure why but he said it was because of her excessive drinking and his father’s absence due to his fireman duties. His mother focused all of her rage mostly on him because she disliked him more than her other kids.

The story continues through his life with his evil mother. He explains why he cannot escape and that his father will not do anything to help because he too is an alcoholic. Dave is a smart boy because he knows his mother's "games" and how to make things better for the moment.

One of the major passages in the book was when Dave was stabbed by his mother and all his dad said was “well, you better go wash those dishes". This happened when Dave was in the kitchen and he did not do his chores fast enough. His mother got mad and pointed the knife at him saying "I'm going to kill you" until she slipped and stabbed him. Dave started bleeding a lot and passed out. When Dave passed out his mother cleaned his wounds.

Later Dave goes to tell his dad what happened but his dad is drunk and does not care. This was a very important passage because it's when Dave finds out no one will help him, not even his father, whom he once loved so much. His own father did not help him and did not care. The author really does a very nice job of explaining everything with such great detail. Since this is a first person story it gives a lot more feeling to it.

Another important passage was when Dave's mother forces him to stay in the locked bathroom with a bucket of Clorox mixed with ammonia. I think this was one of the best sensory images from the author in the whole book because he described the scene so well I could even feel my eyes stinging. The author made me feel his pain so much during the whole story of the book.

This book is an autobiographical story. It's the true story of the author, Dave Pelzer. I think because the book is a true story and is written from the child’s perspective, the story provides a lot more detail and really puts you in his shoes. The book’s weakness is that it's written in a very simple writing style with not a lot of thought into the use of words because he is writing it as if he was a little boy. This book is short and easy for everyone to understand. It's a must read for anyone who wants to have an interesting read in a short amount of time.

Miguel C.

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