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“A Child Called ‘It’: One Child’s Courage to Survive” is a memoir by Dave Pelzer. It recounts his traumatic childhood experiences of severe abuse and neglect at the hands of his mother. It sheds light on the horrors of child abuse while also demonstrating the incredible strength and resilience of the human spirit. It serves as a call to action to protect vulnerable children and support those who have suffered from abuse.
- Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction, Child Abuse
- Themes: Survival, Child Abuse, Resilience, Family, Healing
What is this book about?
“A Child Called ‘It'” is a powerful and heart-wrenching memoir within the nonfiction genre. This book explores the themes of survival, child abuse, resilience, and the enduring human spirit in the face of unimaginable cruelty.
The book is a wrenching tale of the author’s mother’s abuse and neglect as a youngster. Dave Pelzer chronicles his early years as a young boy in a dysfunctional family, focusing on the torment he endured daily.
The narrative opens with a stark portrayal of his mother’s descent into alcoholism and mental instability, which led to her subjecting Dave to physical and emotional abuse. He describes his degrading and inhumane treatment, including being starved, forced to wear rags, and severely punished.
A central theme of “A Child Called ‘It'” is the exploration of the resilience and inner strength of the human spirit. Despite his unimaginable suffering, Dave Pelzer’s memoir is a testament to his determination to survive and escape his nightmarish circumstances.
The book delves into the psychology of survival and the coping mechanisms that Dave developed to endure the abuse. He shares his strategies for finding moments of solace and hope amid the darkness, highlighting the power of the human imagination and the importance of holding onto dreams.
Throughout the narrative, the author draws readers into his harrowing journey, vividly describing the physical and emotional pain he experienced. His story is a stark reminder of the horrors of child abuse and the lasting scars it can leave on a person’s psyche.
“A Child Called ‘It'” also explores themes of hope and healing. Dave Pelzer recounts the moments of kindness and support he received from teachers and others who recognized his dire situation. These acts of compassion served as lifelines and eventually led to his rescue.
The book incorporates forgiveness and the author’s journey towards healing and self-acceptance. Dave Pelzer’s memoir is not just a tale of suffering but also a story of resilience, triumph, and the capacity of the human spirit to overcome even the darkest circumstances.
The narrative is structured around the idea that through sheer willpower and the support of caring individuals, one can break free from the cycle of abuse and lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Takeaways and tips
- Survival and Resilience: The book’s central theme is Dave’s incredible resilience and determination to survive despite the unimaginable abuse he endured. His ability to endure extreme suffering and continue living is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.
- Child Abuse Awareness: “A Child Called ‘It'” is a valuable tool for child abuse awareness and protecting vulnerable youngsters. Dave’s story sheds light on the hidden horrors some children face in their homes.
- Impact of Family Dysfunction: The book highlights the devastating effects of family dysfunction and the lasting emotional scars it can leave on children. Dave’s mother’s descent into alcoholism and cruelty had profound and long-lasting consequences on his life.
- Importance of Hope: Dave holds onto hope for a better future throughout the book. His dreams and determination to escape his abusive situation provide light in an otherwise dark narrative. It underscores the importance of hope as a motivating force.
- The Role of Teachers and Social Workers: Dave’s interactions with caring teachers and social workers were critical to his survival. These individuals were instrumental in recognizing the signs of abuse and advocating for his safety.
- Emotional Healing: While Dave’s physical abuse was horrific, the book also explores his journey of emotional healing. It demonstrates that healing from trauma is a complex and ongoing process that can extend into adulthood.
- Breaking the Cycle: Dave’s determination to break the cycle of abuse in his life and not perpetuate it in his future family is a powerful message. It emphasizes the importance of seeking help and support to overcome the cycle of abuse.
- Impact on Sibling Relationships: The book touches on Dave’s strained relationships with his siblings, who were also abused differently. It highlights how abuse can fracture family bonds and create lasting divisions.
- The Power of Writing: Dave’s decision to write about his experiences was a form of catharsis and healing. It also allowed him to share his story with the world, raising awareness about child abuse.
- Child Advocacy: Dave’s journey to healing and recovery led him to become an advocate for child welfare and a speaker on the subject of child abuse. His story has inspired many to take action and support organizations dedicated to protecting children.
“A Child Called ‘It'” is best for readers prepared to engage with a deeply emotional and challenging narrative. It is an essential read for those interested in understanding the devastating impact of child abuse and the resilience of survivors. Although challenging and emotionally draining, it is an eye-opening look at the human spirit and the need to expose child abuse. This memoir is particularly valuable for educators, social workers, and individuals working in fields related to child welfare, as it sheds light on the hidden suffering of abused children and the crucial role that intervention and support can play in their lives.
Best-recommended books besides “A Child Called ‘It'”
If you’re looking for alternatives to “A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive” by Dave Pelzer, a memoir that explores themes of survival and resilience, here are books that touch on similar topics of overcoming adversity and triumphing over difficult circumstances:
“The Glass Castle: A Memoir” by Jeannette Walls
In “The Glass Castle,” Jeannette Walls recounts her turbulent upbringing in a family marked by poverty, neglect, and unconventional living conditions. Despite facing immense challenges, Walls perseveres and eventually escapes her difficult childhood. The book is a poignant exploration of resilience, family dynamics, and the enduring human spirit.
Why we love it:
- Witness a gripping and heartfelt memoir of overcoming adversity.
- Gain insight into the complexities of family relationships and survival.
- Be inspired by the author’s journey from poverty to success.
“Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover
Tara Westover’s “Educated” is a powerful memoir that chronicles her life growing up in a strict and abusive household in rural Idaho. Denied a formal education, Westover eventually escapes and pursues learning independently, earning a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Her story is a testament to the transformative power of education and the pursuit of knowledge.
Why we love it:
- Explore the importance of education and self-discovery in overcoming adversity.
- Witness a remarkable journey from a sheltered upbringing to academic achievement.
- Gain insight into the complexities of family loyalty and personal growth.
“Running with Scissors: A Memoir” by Augusten Burroughs
Augusten Burroughs’ memoir, “Running with Scissors,” provides a darkly humorous and, at times, absurd account of his unconventional upbringing. Raised by a dysfunctional psychiatrist and his eccentric family, Burroughs navigates a world of chaos, mental illness, and unconventional experiences. The book offers a unique blend of humor and pathos.
Why we love it:
- Experience a memoir that blends humor with poignant reflections on a troubled childhood.
- Explore themes of resilience, identity, and the search for belonging.
- Gain insight into the author’s journey to find stability and self-acceptance.
“The Lost Boy” by Dave Pelzer
“The Lost Boy” is the sequel to Dave Pelzer’s “A Child Called It” and continues his autobiographical account of surviving extreme abuse and neglect. This book details his life as a foster child and his search for a loving and stable family. Pelzer’s story is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and determination to find love and belonging.
Why we love it:
- Follow the author’s journey from a harrowing childhood to the search for a loving family.
- Gain insight into the challenges faced by foster children and their resilience.
- Experience a continuation of Dave Pelzer’s powerful memoir.
“Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood” by Julie Gregory
Julie Gregory’s “Sickened” is a distressing book about Munchausen by proxy. Gregory recounts her traumatic experiences as a victim of this abuse and her journey to escape her mother’s control.
Why we love it:
- Gain awareness of the rare and disturbing phenomenon of Munchausen by proxy.
- Witness the author’s courageous escape from an abusive childhood.
- Explore the psychological effects of manipulation and deception on a young victim.
“Bastard Out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison
“Bastard Out of Carolina” is a gritty and influential novel by Dorothy Allison that explores the life of Ruth Anne Boatwright, known as Bone, as she navigates a turbulent childhood marked by poverty, abuse, and family secrets. The book vividly depicts Bone’s coming-of-age in the American South and her struggle for self-acceptance and survival.
Why we love it:
- Dive into a compelling fiction work that explores abuse, family, and resilience themes.
- Experience a vivid portrayal of a young girl’s journey to find her place in a challenging world.
- Discover American South identification and belonging issues.