- A Child Called It (#1), 106 pages, published: September 1st 1995
- The Lost Boy (#2), 340 pages, published: 1997
- A Man Named Dave (#3), 407 pages, published: 1999
Author: Dave Pelzer
Genre: Non-Fiction Memoir
An unprecedented true story of a young boy’s desperate desire to fight for his life when beaten, starved, maimed and scared by the woman who was supposed to protect and love him above all else. David Pelzer recounts the heartbreaking journey of lies and secrets during a devastating childhood which he had to endure before he was rescued and put in the system. He humbly retells of his struggle to adapt after almost 11 years in the cold and dirty garage of his alcoholic mother’s house.
When he was a child, his beautiful, kind and warm-hearted mother took care of her family: her husband the fireman and her three happy children. But one day she simply ran off the rails and life was never the same for the Pelzer family again. All the rage of her past erupted from the depths of her soul and she took it out on her son who had wanted nothing more than to be loved and cherished as an individual. Little Dave was beaten, burned, whipped and thrashed, degraded to believe he was a ‘bad boy’ and not worthy of an identity: a child called ‘It’.
The first installment in the trilogy focuses on David’s life from the ages of four to twelve and the abuse he received while under his mother’s custody. This heart wrenching narrative is simple in the most gruesome way. The man tells his story straight out, as if ready to tell the world the truth about what happened to him and what continues to go on in our society, but in no way searching for anyone’s additional pity. He expressed himself in a way that makes it so obvious that he has long since forgiven for what happened to him and that’s what makes the story so beautiful. The things he went through are unimaginable and confusing and the reader spends the whole book asking the same question he does over and over again. You read about a mother who for no reason at all, decides to lay her son’s hand on the stove top and set it on fire! You read about merciless evenings filled with fear and all you can ask is: why?
Later when he was finally physically free of The Mother, in The Lost Boy, she remained a constant pressure in his heart. She haunted his dreams for a long time and even when he thought he was free, he realized she was never too far away. During the battle to find him a home, a place where he was wanted and a family to love him, David had to relearn the things we all take for granted. He cherished every moment of his new life in the sun and when others his age where having fun, he was always working and thinking ahead: a trait he had learned from surviving in The House.
While living under his mother’s roof he had learned basic survival instincts that the majority of us will never have to learn. He displayed strength and determination at such a young age that is so inspiring. Even if at times he begged for death to take him, he always took victory and encouragement from all the small successes he achieved when he fought back. When put into foster care it was only then that he learned what the outside world was all about and what it meant to be part of a family. His journey was most certainly not easy but through his words, you can’t help but feel inspired by his courage and perseverance. Yes, he sometimes fell, due to the tricks of those who live to mislead and use others, but he managed to withhold a great value that many do not posses. He always learned from his mistakes, was always sensitive to others, and never let stereotypes tell him what he could and could not do with his life.
The last book in which he finally gains a sense of whom he is and is finally recognized as the individual he was always led to believe he wasn’t, tells the happy ending of a boy who became a man ready to do something worthwhile with his life. He finally tells the story of what it was like to be an adult and having to try to live with the memories of his past. He had to learn that others will treat you a certain way regardless of your past and it’s up to you to see the good from the bad. His adult life was difficult as he dealt with his haunting past, jobs which drained all his strength and a strained unexpected marriage but he learned that the only one who could pave the stepping-stones of his life was himself.
He never in his wildest dreams ever thought that he would love or trust again until two people came into his life and he learned the true meaning of love and family. Most importantly he managed to do something that not many individuals who are abused as children manage to do. He was able to forgive his mother and understand that what he went through was under no circumstances his fault, but it was not entirely her fault either. He passes the message to his fellow human beings that forgiveness is the most important thing in life. It doesn’t matter what anyone else tells you about yourself. No dream is ever unattainable if hard work and dedication is applied.
The author ensures that his readers know that these books were published to raise awareness of the serious problem that is child abuse in many communities. He tells them that the cycle of abuse can be broken and that just because a child comes from a troubled past, that doesn’t give society any reason to deem them as unimportant or with no hope for the future. He reminds us that we can overcome anything if we learn to work with others and be kind to them. He reminds us all that tomorrow is in fact another day and no obstacle is insurmountable if we put out heart and soul into it.