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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 27 August 2001
Dave's account of his early years was probably the most horrific but inspirational book I have ever read. He suffered physical and emotional abuse in the highest degree but somehow maintained the strength of character to survive. To imagine a mother stabbing, burning and forcing a child to eat his own vomit is mind blowing. Dave's account however is not one that dwells on the tragedy of it all but very much focuses on his determination to survive. I was unable to put this book down and rushed out to buy the other two books in the series. I would very much recommend his accounts of his time through foster care and adulthood in 'The lost boy' and 'A man named Dave'
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on 18 October 2001
Im a 24 year old male. and am not into reading books, infact this is the first book ive read since school. - On a recent night out i got chatting to some old friends and while we were drunk they told me about Dave Palzer amazing story, i was so intruged i bought the book. I started reading it and couldnt put it down till i finished. Dave Palzer (the innocent victim ) is a model for any human being and goes to show anyone can triumph over any bad experiance. How his mother could go from been a normal person to an evil monster is anyones guess, but it is truly remarkable how Dave Palzer could manage to find the will to stay alive and not take the easy way out and kill himself is a lesson for everyone. I will be buying his follow up books asap. Dave - Wherever you are now, i salute you. you are a true hero.
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on 2 July 2001
I initially borrowed this book from my brother-in-law, who warned me that it would be hard reading, but worth it.
He was not wrong. At the start of the book, Mr Pelzer apologises for using graphic detail and somewhat childlike descriptions during his prose. He need not have bothered apologising, the description of events were written in the style of the young child he was whilst suffering (and surviving) what can only be dscribed as harrowing conditions.
I had the luxury of spending the entire day alone reading this book, something I heartily recommend. There were often times that I put the book down, picked it back up, put it down again, searched for tissues and then read until I finished the book. It was not easy, it was amazing, harrowing, painful and astounding... how such a young child could survive using only his wits in such conditions, how a parent can change so dramatically... and how little was done to help change the situation.
I have seen the adverts on the television about childhood abuse, but reading this book brought it home to me in a clear and concise manner.
Do not be confused, this is not a "poor me, look what happened to me" book, this is an exceptionally strong book, written by a man who has not only survived a difficult childhood, but has come through it to become an exceptional parent in his own right. This is a story of survival and a testimony to David Pelzer.
If I could shake that man's hand I would, gladly.
P.S. I bought the book, and the others in the series, The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave. The story goes on... and it must never happen again.
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on 27 September 2004
Because I already know what the human species is like, much of the story rang frighteningly true, and I soon found myself half way through the book. Ever tried reading and cooking at the same time? I found out I can!
I started reading this book after lunch yesterday, and by 2am I had finished the second book "The Lost Boy" as well. I should finish the third sometime tonight, though it is a heck of a lot longer than the other two.
Excellent reading for anyone who thinks they had a rough deal growing up. Even my own issues and problems seemed so insignificant in relation to his early beginnings.
Dave Pelzer has opened my eyes a little wider than I expected, and made me realise that for all the great things the human species does, there are things that smack us straight back to the reality of our frailty. To understand human nature, we need to understand every aspect of it - form the most pleasant through to the most evil. I hasten to add that there must be more evil than pleasantry, or our species would not act the way it does.
Had I been in his shoes, I know I would most likely have given up the will to live and succeed. Okay, what happened to me was bad, but it didn't last more than a few months at the most, and wasn't regular. To go through four or five years of this daily ritual abuse must have been unbearable, and I wonder at the questions he must have asked himself all the way through it.
Finding someone to talk to about what's happening is the hardest thing to do, and I am sick and tired of people asking me why I didn't tell ... why I had a list of excuses for things. In the book, Dave talks about the signs ... signs like a lack of concentration, a lack of personal hygiene and a lack of self esteem. I showed all of those signs, but everyone just thought I was a lazy git. Dave should have been noticed earlier on, and should not have had to go through any more of it. I should have not had to go through any more of it too ...
He gives an account of his visits to a psychiatrist ... an account I can sympathise with - for his experience was much the same as mine. There are still psychiatrists out there who work in a similar manner, but thankfully they are a dying breed. They have probably caused more harm to patients than the actual abuse they suffered. I know this is true in my case, and I cannot and never will forgive the one I was sent to back in the 1970's.
The system may not ever understand why such things as abuse happen, but the swing now to understanding and helping is probably the best thing ever to happen. The old system of locking 'problems' away instead of looking at the route cause has only helped to make matters worse. The same goes for the abusers. In order to beat the problem we need to understand them, and find ways of prevention. Simply putting them away for a short term is no treatment, and I should imagine it only means they return to society with more of a desire to abuse, and a greater wealth of knowledge of how to carry out that abuse.
It is hard to read through tears. I find myself asking myself if the tears were of pity, knowing, or of happiness. At different stages, they were all of them. As I neared the end of the second book, I relaised there was another kind of tear. A tear of pride.
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on 26 July 2015
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.

I’ve read and reviewed some really weird stuff. There was a stage where I intentionally tried to find the most messed up 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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on 29 May 2003
This is a compelling read, which leaves the reader feeling disturbed, confused and angry. It is a book that you will read in one go, for it is impossible to put down once you start. When you reach the end, there are more questions in the readers mind than there are answers, you may not cry, but you will feel overwhelmed with many different emotions. It is hard to believe that this is a true story, simply because it is so unbelievable and because many us will never experience any think like this, or here of anything like this in our lives. It's a story of a mother's cruel abuse and a boy's ability to survive.
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on 18 February 2002
Dave Pelzer's story is the story of a child brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games - games that left one of her three sons nearly dead. Dave had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy but an 'it'. His bed was an old army cot in the basement, his clothes were torn and smelly and when he was allowed the luxury of food it was scraps from the dog's bowl. The outside world knew nothing of the nightmare played out behind closed doors. But throughout Dave kept alive dreams of finding a family to love him, care for him, call him their son. It took many years of struggle, deprivation and despair to find his dream and then to make something of himself in the world. This book covers the early years of his life and is an affecting and inspirational look at the horrors of child abuse and the steadfast determination of one child to survive despite the odds.
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on 20 July 2001
As I read this book, I had a rush of different emotions. I was mainly disturbed because I kept picturing this little boys suffering, and the shame he must have felt when faced by peers. I also felt hatred towards the two people that he called his mother and father. I hated that a school system took so long to figure out this child was being abused. This book opened new doors for me. I appriciate my children more now than ever, I want to be an even better mother. I read this book as if I were looking through his eyes, I am so sorry that to make him the person that he is today, that he had to encounter such a horrible life. My heart goes out to him, and only wish him the best for the rest of his precious life. How a person could have been that demented is beyond me. I don't even know if she had an illness, I think that she enjoyed what she did. I wanted his mother to be in front of me, so I could hit her, I have never felt so many emotions from one book before. I have never felt hatred like I did when reading this book. I am only glad that Dave got the respect and love that he had always deserved, and it takes someone with a strong will, spirit, and physical ability to pull through what he did. I have the most respect for this man, and I will continue to buy whatever he may publish!
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on 4 May 2002
'A Child Called "It"' takes the reader to the childhood of the author; one where love is scarce and abuse is frequent. This isn't a book for the faint-hearted, but the fact that Dave Pelzer lives to tell the tale makes the reader believe in determination and hope, no matter what the circumstances.
To fully understand the story you should read all his books as they trace his move from abused child, through confused adolescence and to adulthood where he can finally put his demons to rest. One can never imagine the suffering that this man endured at the hands of his mother, but nonetheless his writing is frank and compelling. This book has moved me like no other.
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on 24 October 2001
I'm a compulsive reader, but I finished this book very quickly - couldn't put it down. It's an amazing story, but when you then think during the read that this is real...it actually happended and Dave was only a small child, you can't help but feel the tears begin to prick. The cold and calculating "games" and tourture dished out by the "The Mother" are chilling - it makes you wonder what kind of person could single out one son and inflict these types of crimes. I've just finished the sequel "The lost Boy" (equally compelling) and can't wait to start "A Man Named Dave". Dave, wherever you are, congratulations for coming through this!
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