Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Child Called It by David Pelzer

So I realize I'm probably going to get kicked for this review, but I'm obviously too analytical to just take a book at face value. You mention this book to anyone and the first thing they say is "It's so sad" but what else? What do you walk away from with this book and that's where I think it fell short.

This book is a memoir of a child abuse victim. David's mother began abusing him when he was a child, insisting that he was a "bad boy." Besides physically abusing him and making him her slave, she had him living in a constant state of fear for what her next move would be. Some of her more devious attacks included leaving him in a closed bathroom with an ammonia and bleach mixture that became a gas chamber. She starved him for days, made him sleep in the garage, and at one point even stabbed him. Any attempt he made to get food was often discovered and then punished. His father - a firefighter - was rarely home and when he was, he became another one of the mother's victims, unable to help his son. In the end, after years of abuse, his teachers finally take a stand and save him from his horrible situation.

I don't know where to begin my reaction. I'll completely agree with anyone who says this book is sad because it is terrible what he went through. Do I believe everything? I think that with any biography there are situations that are embellished so I do take things with a grain of salt. I have a hard time accepting that as he went through all of this, no one helped him. For years, no one did ANYTHING to help him - okay, one person called child services, but ONE? That's it? That's hard for me swallow Which is why I think that there needs to be more background about the time period. I work in a school and I know that staff is required to report any sign of child abuse. This kid clearly had signs and no one did anything. I know that this is because of the time period, but I personally would have liked to know more, like when things changed or why no one did anything. Also, this novel is listed as "Self-Help/Psychology/Inspiration." I don't see much self-help going on in this novel. In my eyes, David didn't do much to help his situation. He told himself he could beat her - which he did somethings - and he prayed for her to die or else for her to kill him. How does that ultimately help another child in a similar situation? Ultimately, David survived because others finally came in and helped him. Yes, he grew past his situation and turned the bad into good, but I feel like this book is lacking the words of wisdom to honestly help others in this situation. It is eye opening to the horrors of child abuse but what does it have to say about fighting the system?

In the end, I thought that this book was a sad story and that's about it. It doesn't go much farther than telling the story. I realize I'm probably missing something from this memoir and am probably a cold, cynical person to not be so affected by this book, but I felt like it could have done more for the message.

No comments: