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on 22 November 2001
This book is terrible. Simple. I am no way condoning child abuse, and the abuse the child suffers at the hands of his mother is terrible, but as a work of literature it is awful. I think that many people feel that they have to like the book because of the horrible situation that the child is put in. It is just page after page of abuse which has no literary effect whatsoever. It's just; my mom beat me, then she made me eat my own vomit, then I was left in the basement...etc.
It is also very 'american' with an Oprah kind of 'turn that frown upside down' syndrome. How he feels he is a better person because of it and he has been able to 'grow' since, and how he appreciates life more than anyone could understand. There is no actual narrative to the novel, we don't know how he got out of the situation, what happened to his mother and the rest of his family or anything outside of the abuse, whether it is an attempt to get you to buy the other books in the series I don't know - it certainly didn't work with me though.
You'd be better off spending your money on 'Once in a House on Fire' by Andrea Ashworth, or 'Sarah' by J.T. LeRoy - books with similar themes but incomparible when it comes to literary talent.
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on 15 December 2005
This is probably the most depressing yet the most inspiring book I've ever read. The abuse this brave little child endured at the hands of his own mother was so far beyond belief that I actually thought it was fiction.

This is thought-provoking, anger-inducing and truly heartbreaking.

I encourage everybody to read it at once.
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on 1 May 2001
This book presents an interesting literary dilemma - a truly fascinating, horrific subject undermined by a poorly-written account. I don't for a minute want to call into question the validity of this man's terrible experience as a child. But his way of expressing that experience is so simplistic and overly dramatic that the reader becomes irritated into flicking through pages of what should be compulsive reading.
To begin with, we read about the fairy story happiness of family life before his mother turns into a monster. I have to say, could any family possibly have been that perfect and that happy? It's too simplistic. So when things go wrong there's an unconscious question mark in the reader's mind over the authenticity of that story too.
I know that the writer wanted the book to come across in the manner of a child recounting his experiences. But I think the book is damaged because of the lack of context this entails. All the way through, I wanted to know why his mother had turned, what were the reasons, what was her mental illness? Why was his father so helpless in the face of her torture? The book possibly needed a more sophisticated account of the psychological warfare that was going on.
I also felt as though David credited his childhood self with language and insight that a child that age couldn't have. 'I remember wishing that lady luck would be with me just one time.' A child would not, surely, think in terms of gambling lingo such as this. He'd wish not to be caught, of course, but wouldn't express this wish in such a world-weary, adult way. He often seems to know that promises are false or that things will go wrong, and is unsurprised when they do. Of course, part of this must be because of the constant breaking of his spirit. But sometimes I was reminded of the benefit of hindsight. He knows things would go wrong as an adult writing this book because he's lived through the events. Could he, as a child, really have shrugged his shoulders so cynically and be proved right time and again?
In other places the writing is, simply, bad. 'Even the sun seemed to avoid me'. This is hackneyed, cliche-ridden writing.
So, does bad writing make a bad book? In this case, I'm afraid I think it does. It doesn't at all discredit the man's experience, but his manner of describing that experience meant I flicked through the last 20 pages, instead of compulsively reading to the end. And if you've lost the reader, you've failed.
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on 2 May 2001
Reading the summary on the back of this book you can be forgiven if you are put off of reading it and should you bypass it you will be missing out on a truly engrossing read. This is not a story of happiness or fantasy but a sad tale of suffering that most people have the good fortune never to experience. "A Child Called 'It'" is the story of the early years of Dave Pelzer, a victim of child abuse. I defy anyone who reads this book not to feel a deep sense of outrage and pity for this man whose childhood was destroyed through the abuse he experienced. At times it is deeply shocking, due to the extent of the abuse he suffered, and at others truly uplifting to see how "it", overcame the adversity of an early existence that could have driven him to drugs, crime or even suicide. Stories like these are what make the majority of people realise how insignificant their own problems are and allow those who have been in similar situations to realise they are not alone in what they may have felt. The book also raises the question as to how, in this 'civilised' age of man, cases like this can still be allowed to occur over such a sustained period of time. The truly surprising fact though is how someone who suffered so much seems to have so little bitterness towards those whose travesties marred his adolescence and retain some semblance of faith in humanity. A book that will do more to alert people to the real horrors of child abuse than any tabloid "scare story" and an exceptional comment on today's society and it's attitudes held towards child abuse.
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on 10 May 2001
It took me about 4 hours to read this book, because once you pick it up, you just can't put it down. The author went through horrific abuse during the years that should, for a child, be the most fun. It is a deeply upsetting, harrowing account of a true story that definetly tugs on the heart strings. It is excellent to read, and makes you think about the American society in the late 60's to early 70's. The fact his brothers and father stood by and let it happen just increases the extent of the abuse. You end up in that house with him, in that garage with him, hating his mother and screaming at his father to do something.
The fact that someone can put a small child through that abuse is inconceivable and unimaginable and all that can be said is that the mother was mentally ill--very ill. Because of this book you can see eye-brows raising and tears flowing all over the world and I really hope it helped Dave to write about it all. Eyes are opended to child abuse and children can now know, if they are being abused, they are not alone and can seek help. I am lucky enough to have had a fun-filled, loving childhood and this book makes you realise just how lucky you are.
I know now that Dave has grown up and now has a wife and a son of his own. It is excellent to think that one person can suffer that immensely and still survive--and most importantly, succeed. If anyone deserves a good life in a happy family it's you Dave!!!. Every person world-wide should respect him for his heart-filled need to survive at such a young age. Not one single child should go through, even a fraction, of what he did.
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on 30 December 2002
A child called “it”, The lost boy, and A man named Dave
These three books tell a very depressing, but brilliant, story about a boy, named David, who is abused both mentally and physically throughout his childhood. It tells how his mother excluded him from “ Her Family” and replaced his own name “ David” with “it”. It also recounts how his mother plays games him, which include making him eat faeces from his little brothers nappy, and claiming to her other children that the reason that she so recklessly beats her own son is because she loves “ it” and wants “it” to be happy. The books follow his whole life from around 6 or 7 years old, to a grown, and may I say very wise man!!
I cannot recommend these books to anyone who is looking for a light hearted, amusing, or thrilling book. I can, however, recommend this book to someone who wants to read an autobiography, of an unhappy child, and for someone who wishes to find a well-written, and very powerful book. After saying that, the best way to start reading it is to come across it on a library shelf and start to read it, as this is how I came across it.
In these books, when you read them, you feel as though there are no secrets, for Dave Pelzer seems to pour out his whole life story!! You can read any other book about child abuse but none as sad and vigorous as this. This makes the outcome at the end of the book even more of a triumph. I have to be honest with you, and say that at times in the book I felt like giving in, and there is no doubt that it can be regarded as hard read, but once you have read it, it feels like a brilliant achievement.
I have to admit that David Pelzer is a hero, as his patience and endurance are amazing. He puts his best into everything he does, and his sole priority in doing what he does is to tell people how to get through these things, and how he got through this.
I will recommend this book to anyone, with the will to read something like this, as it is truly a superb series, and It will forever be great book.
Charlotte Adlard 2002
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on 5 January 2001
I was given this book on Christmas day 2000, and I finished it by 8.30pm on the same day. Two days later I bought the 2nd part of the trilogy The Lost Boy. What a book. I honestly could not leave it down till I read the last page. This poor child went through hell and back during his young years.. Some of the things his mother had him do was pure cruel and deliberate. There was so much mental and physical abuse in this young child's life. How could a mother treat one of her children like that. The sad part is that by the end of the book David still did not know what he had done to deserve such treatment. This book gave a graphic account of his early years living in hell. But thought all the torture his mother put him through, he still loved and respected her. All he tried to do was please her and make her love him like the rest of the children. H the more he tried to please, the more he was punished. He would not eat for days, and then he would only get the leftovers from his brother's plates. His poor father was worn down by the mother. He partly understood how David was feeling but blocked it out with booze. This book gave the feeling that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it takes someone else to lend us a hand to get there. I hope this book has encouraged other people in a similar situation to seek help. Well done David for coming through it all a find upstanding man.
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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 12 June 2001
Dave Pelzer's account of his early life is incredibly harrowing and yet I could not put the book down. It jolted me into a much clearer understanding of the reality and tragedy of child abuse that is so epidemic. His style of writing bears an innate sense of optimism and determination to survive the horrors that he endured at the hands of his "mother"; the passive standing back of other family members and the alienation and ridicule that plagued him at school. I was grateful to have my eyes truly opened but also inspired by his positivity and the inner strength he has gained from his suffering. Like Andrea Ashworth's "Once in A House on Fire", this is the sort of book that should be placed in school libraries and made to be read by social workers everywhere; but really as many people as possible should read this. The more that people understand this kind of situation and recognise the signs, the greater the chance of putting an end to this kind of cruelty.
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on 15 April 2016
For whatever reason, I really didn’t enjoy this book. I think it was probably because there was a lot of hype about it at the time, and I read it after it had all died down and remained unaffected. Truth be told, I just didn’t think Pelzer was a decent writer, and editors can only cover up so much.

I also feel a little bit unsure of Pelzer’s motivation behind releasing this – I’m worried he might’ve been in it for the money. I feel like it’s one of those subjects, like mental health, that’s best written about when it’s to try to help other people. Sure, I bet it helped some people, but not most of them.

Still, you know, perhaps you’d enjoy it more than I did. It’s hard to really pinpoint exactly what turned me off it so much, but there was definitely something. It was like when you eat something you’ve never tried before and not only does it taste bad at the time, but it leaves a bad aftertaste. And it takes you a lot longer to read something than it takes you to eat it, so bear that in mind too. Good luck if you buy a copy!
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