by David J Pelzer

Reviewer Rating:


I didn’t expect to enjoy a book about child abuse. But I did expect it to be good, moving, touching, heartbreaking, sobering, or inspiring in some way. It was not. This was the worst book I have ever read.

A Child Called “It” was not much more than a list of all the really mean or awful things David’s mother supposedly did to him, followed by David saying, “But I was so smart and brave and strong that it didn’t really bother me.” That’s not actually a quote from the book, but there is something to that effect on most pages. Here are a few actual quotes: “I had beaten her...I used my head to survive...I had won!” (pg. 42 moments after having his arm held in the flames of a gas stove). “I stood staring into the sink, feeling how lucky I was to be alive” (pg. 76 after being forced to drink ammonia, which chemically burned off chunks of his tongue). “...a river of tears soaked the neck of my shirt...I felt proud of myself. I imagined myself like a character in a comic book, who overcame great odds and survived...I was Superman” (pg. 98 after field dressing his own knife wound in the garage). Brutality, cruelty, and torture are real things that do happen to real people, and they have real effects. It feels like Pelzer is asserting that his own inner wellspring of strength was enough to shield himself from the worst torture that ever happened to anyone. Well… I doubt that. I also doubt that a child who attends school every day in San Francisco, has a babysitter, neighbors, and has four or five siblings can be beaten, stabbed, poisoned, water boarded, gassed, starved, and farmed out as child labor without going to a hospital or doctor, without missing school, and without anybody ever knowing anything about it.

Other than belittling the emotional and mental repercussions that extreme child abuse normally results in, and the hard work it actually takes to overcome such a past, I also didn’t believe a word of this story. It seemed like an elaborate lie told by a liar who is really bad at lying. As a victim, David Pelzer doesn’t owe the world anything. As an author, he owes me some sense of credibility. At the very least he could have edited or revised the book enough to fix the glaring contradictions and physical impossibilities.

I can’t even understand how this book got published, nevermind how it ended up on a Best Seller list. If you’re in the mood to read something like this, try Push, by Sapphire instead.

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