The memoir begins with Dave Pelzer at twelve years old, getting an examination from his school nurse. He lied to her about the bruises all over his body, but she knew that they were from his mother, who beat him. She left the room and returned with the school’s principal, who said he’d had enough of this. He escorted Dave to a meeting with a police officer and the police officer took him away, telling him that he would never have to go back to his mother again—he was free.
Next, the memoir rewinds to Dave's early childhood years, when his mother was kind and he lived happily and without worries. He lived with his parents and his two brothers in Daly City, California, near San Francisco. His father worked most days, but his mother took the boys on day trips around the city, always teaching them whatever lessons she could. They would go on family vacations to the Russian River, a place that made Dave happier than anything else.
But Dave's relationship with his mother began to change as she started disciplining him more and more, and this turned into full-scale abuse that spiraled out of control. The abuse was not as bad when his father was around, so Dave latched on to him—but his father did not dare to defy his mother, and warned Dave to be a "good boy" around her. He and Dave's mother would have afternoon happy hours, when they would drink a lot in the kitchen, and his mother always beat him worse when he was drunk.
School was a haven for Dave, since it was the only place he could get away from his mother. But things at home get worse, as she forced a bar of soap down Dave's throat, left him home during a family vacation, and even made him hold his arms over a burning stove. Soon, she began to starve him, and he spent all his time trying to figure out ways to get food. He stole it from kids at school, from the grocery store, and from the frozen-lunch trucks, but his mother started making him vomit after coming home from school to make sure he had not eaten anything.
The worst came one day when she was waving a knife at him as a threat. It slipped from her hands and stabbed him in the stomach, and he was seriously injured. She immediately began to dress the wound, but not because she was concerned for Dave's health—instead, it was because she knew she would be in serious trouble if anyone found out she had stabbed her son. Dave told his father that she had stabbed him, but he did not do anything about it. This was when Dave stopped thinking of his father as his superhero. Soon he got a terrible fever and his wound became infected, but he fought through it and recovered, and then he decided that he was his own Superman.
His father began spending much less time at home, and his mother continued to starve him, once for ten days in a row. A new punishment arose, in which she would lock Dave in the bathroom with a bucket of Clorox and ammonia and make him breathe in the fumes. His mother had another baby, and while she was in the hospital the boys lived with the neighbor, Shirley, who later became a close friend of their mother's. One day, Dave's mother started to inexplicably treat Dave better, and for him, it was too good to be true—then he realized it was because a social worker was coming to his house to speak to him. He lied to her and said that everything was fine.
As the years went by and nothing changed, Dave started to lose hope completely and wish that he were dead. He did not even feel safe at school anymore, where the kids were bullying him. His mother started to alienate everyone in the family–not just Dave–and one day, they got in the car and drove Dave's father to a motel. His parents separated, because his father could not take it anymore. The memoir ends with Dave in the back of the car driving away, praying.
The epilogue flashes forward to Dave's adulthood, where he stands on the edge of the ocean with his young son, Stephen. He thinks back on his life, and how he has become stronger as a result of the abuse he endured. He takes his son to the Russian River, and they agree that it is their favorite place in the world.
A Child Called 'It' by Dave Pezler
- Length: 1656 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
A Child Called 'It' by Dave Pezler
The Russian river is a place in California where Dave and his family would usually go for a vacation. He remembers this place as a quiet and peaceful place. He remembers how he and his brothers would play, how his mother would to hug him, and how they would all watch the sunset together
School was Dave's only refuge away from his mother, and it was the only place he could actually get food and feel safe. Sometimes he would wish to stay at school forever just so he wouldn’t have to stay home with his mother. He dreaded holidays so much. His school was also a place where he felt loved by the nurse and put an end to his abuse.
During breaks at school, Dave would run to the local grocery store and steal food. But this only lasted for a short period of time because he was caught.
Dave's mother would make him sleep in the garage in an old army cot. Sometimes it would get really freezing down there and he didn’t even have anything to cover him. Dad would occasionally sneak him scraps of food, but if he didn’t he would have to starve.
This is where mother played many games of torture with Dave. She played 'Gas Chamber' which is a dangerous game where Dave has to stay in the bathroom with many different chemicals causing him to choke. She also made him swallow ammonia and made him sit in a bathtub of freezing cold water for hours.
David is the author of this auto-biography. He lived the perfect life up until his mother took up drinking at the age of four. Dave enjoyed school and had a wide imagination. He lived a perfect life and was blessed with perfect parents. Everyday was a new adventure filled with fun. He loved his life and his family.
David came to believe that there was no god because "No just God would leave me like this" Pg.131. He had totally disconnected himself from all physical pain. He refused to shed a tear because he didn’t want to show his mother the satisfaction of his defeat. He no longer dreamed at night, nor did he have an imagination. He felt as if his life had no point "I no longer awoke in the mornings refreshed; I was tired and told myself that I had one less day to live in this world" Pg.
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Dave Grocery Store Perfect Life Stay Home Garage Freezing Bathroom Basement Breaks
132. David's soul became cold and he hated everything including the sun because he knew that he was never going to be allowed to play in its 'warm presence.' But he hated himself the most, because he blamed himself for everything that happened to him. David became more rebellious and wished death upon him. School no longer held the exciting appeal it had years ago. David struggled to concentrate on his work in class, and his bottled-up anger often flashed at the wrong times.
Catherine Roerva was a woman of average size and appearance. She was a woman who glowed with love for her children. She always had ideas, and she always took command of family matters. She loved and did everything she could for her family, and took care of all their needs. In a way, she was a perfectionist.
After taking up drinking when David was four years old, Catherine's attitude and respect for David changed dramatically. She thought of David as a nothing, and her marriage to Stephen started falling apart. Stephen left the house and they got a divorce. Mother treated David like an 'It'. At one point mother told David "Get one thing straight, you little son of a bitch! There is nothing you can do to impress me! Do you understand me? You are a nobody! An It! You are nonexistent! You are a bastard child! I hate you and I wish you were dead! Dead! Do you hear me? Dead!" Pg.140. Mother took order of everything and put herself in charge. She would usually get drunk and pass out on the couch.
Stephen Joseph supported his family as a fireman. He stood about five feet ten inches tall, and weighed about 190 pounds. He had broad shoulders and forearms that would make any muscle man proud. His thick black eyebrows matched his hair. He supported his family well both personally and financially.
As the abuse escalated father spent less and less time at home and more at work. Father was the only family member that stood up for David's rights and snuck him pieces of food; but it wasn’t always successful for he was living in 'mother's house' so therefore he had to abide by her rules. Father got sick of the way he was treated so one day he decided to leave, crushing any hope of David's escape. Father's once masculine body had faded away.
'A Child Called 'It' portrays an emotional journey of a brutally beaten child from the age of four till twelve. The child, Dave Pezler¸ was emotionally and physically tormented by his unstable mother. He was the victim of abuse in his own home, a source of ridicule at his own school, and stripped of all existence.
The novel starts out by telling the ending of his torturous journey. On March 5th 1973, David started his day like every other abusive day. He was usually denied any breakfast, or if he was lucky he would get the leftovers from his two brothers or even the scraps from the dogs bowl. His mother mercilessly beat him. He was forced to do chores before he was allowed to school in his 'rags'. When David got to school, the nurse would examine him and take note of any new wounds. This time the police were called over suspicions of the abuse that took place at home. While being driven to San Matao Juvenile Department, he was finally 'free'. For the first time in his life, he felt a sense of relief to be taken away from the torture of his mother.
David's story wasn’t always so heart-breaking. His family was known as 'The Brady Bunch of the 1960's' Pg. 17. They lived in a modest house, were blessed with perfect parents, and fulfilled with love and care. His father supported his family as a fireman, while mother was a housewife that glowed with love for her children. Ronald, Stan and David were best friends brothers could be. Mother was the perfect housewife and 'everything she touched turned into gold'Pg.18. Every room in the house was spotless, and dinner was always perfect. Their house was full of pets. Every festivity brought life and mimicked the scene of the holiday. At a certain point David turned and became flushed with pride to find his mother holding him tightly. He could feel her heartbeat. And that was his safest, warmest memory of his mother.
Dave was a happy four year old boy, when his mother took up drinking and became depressed. It was during this time that his mother began to abuse him, starting with stints in the corner and escalating to physical abuse. The mother played games of torture, and sometimes forced him to swallow chemicals and to soak in a bath of freezing water for hours. Mother starved Dave, but dad always came to the rescue sneaking him scraps of food in the basement. Dad started spending less time at home, and more at work. As a result of this, the violence dramatically increased because dad was David's only savior. David was all alone in his battle of survival.
David's school, which was his only refuge away from his mother, started becoming suspicious of his situation at home. The things that led to this suspicion were that he would steal food from other children's lunch boxes, he would sneak off to the grocery store to steal food, and he had countless bruises and wounds. The school finally confronted David's mother, who denied everything and blamed David's stories on his wide imagination. This incident triggered mother and she became even more hateful and violent towards David. She burnt his hand over the stove and stabbed him in the chest. She also isolated him even more from his brothers.
David's brother's treated him as he was not a part of the family, like 'a bastard child'. He was forced to eat the contents of his youngest brother's diaper as they all watched in amusement. This abuse continued throughout David's childhood, with many other horrific stories.
The abuse seemed endless to David until the day the school took the situation into their own hands by contacting the authorities. He finally felt a sense of relief to be taken away from his mother as he was being driven to San Matao Juvenile Department.
The story of David Pezler was a really interesting and heart-breaking journey. I really enjoyed the book and the description used because it built an image of each abusive moment in my head, therefore giving me a better understanding. Throughout the novel I was urging to read more. I was touched by his sad situations and I never lost interest.
I would definitely recommend this book, but not to the faint hearted. This book has many lessons and morals. 'A Child Called 'It' really made me appreciate the loving family that I have, as I would never have imagined being a victim of torture in my own home. The book opened my eyes to a whole new world. I would not recommend this book to the faint hearted because it can get very disturbing. So if you are a person that can handle it, I highly suggest you read this outstanding novel.