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A Child Called It is a book about one of the most severe child abuse cases in California. The book is written in first person, by the author David `Dave' Pelzer. The main characters in this story include David, his father, his mother, and his brothers. Others characters mentioned are his neighbors and teachers at school. In the book he tells us about his horrible childhood filled with neglect and abuse. As the book progresses so does the intensity and amount of abuse David receives from his mother. David was fortunate enough to remain hopeful and was eventually taken from the custody of his troubled mother. The tone of the book varies and at times it is calm while other times there is so much rage. David's mother talks with slag throughout the book and is the only one to do this. Mainly this is a result of her being drunk. A Child Called It addresses the issues of alcoholism, neglect, and abuse all from cover to cover.
David Pelzer grew up in one of the most inhumane conditions imaginable. David's father, a firefighter, avoided their house as much as possible, leaving him to deal with the wrath of his mother's punishments. Most of the time David received these punishments for doing nothing more than being alive. David had three other brothers who never once were abused. His mother chose to only torture him. Throughout his terrible childhood David somehow managed to maintain a hopeful outlook on life and somehow kept his will to survive.
In the book it talks about what it was like before things went terribly wrong. The family took vacations together, his mother was a loving mother and wife and David's father was his hero. This eventually changed as did everything in his life. His father never turned out to be his hero and at times he wished his mother dead.
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The following is one of the "games" that David's mother made him play directly from the book.
."..Mother got up and strolled over to the kitchen sink. She knelt down, opened the sink cabinet and removed a bottle of ammonia. I didn't understand. She got a table spoon and poured some ammonia into it. My brain was too rattled to think. As much as I wanted to, I could not get my numbed brain into gear. With spoon in hand, Mother began to creep towards me...Without hesitation I opened my mouth, and Mother rammed the cold spoon deep into my throat. Again I told myself that this was all too easy, but a moment later I couldn't breathe. My throat seized. I stood wobbling in front of Mother, feeling as if my eyes were going to pop out of my skull. I fell on the floor, on my hands and knees. `Bubble!' My brain screamed. I pounded the kitchen floor with all my strength, trying to swallow, and trying to concentrate on the bubble of air stuck in my esophagus. Instantly I became terrified. Tears of panic streamed down my cheeks. After a few seconds, I could feel the force of my pounding fits weaken. My fingernails scraped the floor. My eyes became fixed on the floor. The colors seemed to run together. I began to feel myself drift away. I knew I was going to die. I came to me senses, and felt Mother slapping me on the back. The force of her blows made me burp and I was able to breathe again..." (pg 41-42)
Other things that David had to endure from his mother include eating defecation from his little brother's diaper, having his arm ripped out of socket, being stabbed, being starved for days on end and no longer being able to play with his own brothers. David soon became known as "The Boy" and was no longer considered a part of the family. When this happened only his mother was aloud to look or speak to him, even David's father was afraid of his mother and stayed out of the way as much as possible.
As time went by David's mother put time limits on his chores and if he did not complete the task then he did not eat. When David did get the privilege of eating it was only scraps that sometimes even the dog would not eat. David's fight for food became that of stealing from children at school or frozen lunches from the cafeteria. When His mother suspected that he was somehow getting food she made him throw-up. This eventually became a daily ritual. In the entire book he talks about his fight for food the most. The longest time period that he had to go through without food was 10 days, in those 10 days he lived on only water, but was teased and tormented with food.
While most children David's age were playing with trucks or kicking a ball around, he was in the bathroom being poisoned by a mixture of ammonia and bleach. It is terrible to think that children can all be dealt such different cards. David did nothing to deserve the treatment that he received from his alcoholic mother. Other children slept in their cozy beds, while he was sleeping on the garage floor or under the living room coffee table with only newspaper to cover him. The book, A Child Called It, helps abused children everywhere to understand that they are not alone. It also helps them to understand that they have done nothing to deserve the terrible treatment they have received. This book may be sad, but it gives hope to those who would otherwise have none.