How and Why

Being involved in an intricate web of book-lovers, the best of what we encounter is always passed on to another who will appreciate it. Recently a pal sent me A Child Called It by David Pelzer as one of these note-worthy books.

On second thought, “note-worthy” does not even begin to describe this childlike description of what turned out to be one of the worst child abuse cases in California history. Thankfully, Pelzer begins the book by revealing that there was indeed a happy ending. Otherwise, the heart-wrenching experience of reading about what happened to this poor innocent human being would have been even more frightful. Pelzer describes, in horrific detail, the abuse he experienced growing up. My knowledge of child abuse is limited (though assuredly existent-have I ever mentioned I teach in a public school?!), but what really got to me was how in the world Pelzer’s mother came up with the tortures she inflicted upon her son… her son, for crying out loud!

I discovered that there are 2 additional parts that make up Dave Pelzer’s trilogy, and they have just been bumped to the top of my “To Read” list! While I was content knowing that Pelzer survived and was eventually removed from his home, there are unanswered questions burning in my mind.

-Out of 5 sons, why did his mother abuse him alone?

-Where is the mother now? Does he have a relationship with her? What about his father and all his brothers, the ones who were hateful to him as well?

-Has he ever gone back to tell Shirley (his mother’s friend that was apparently the only person to confront her about her treatment of David) what happened?

-What kind of therapy does one have to undergo to get past such experience?

-How has this affected him in his adult life, specifically in his role as father.

-This may seem off the subject, but I noticed that in the author profile at the end of the book, Pelzer names his son and even their pets, but mentions his wife only as “my wife.” Why? Is that significant at all?

I am sure that most or all of these concerns will be answered when I read the other 2 books, but for the time being I am left with absolute disgust and wonder over how in the world someone could do this to their child.


  1. I am so unbelievably glad you read this book. When I discovered it 10 years ago, I had no idea that it would change my life.

    I asked myself most of the same questions you are asking yourself now and have had most of them answered through reading his other books, viewing his website (www.davepelzer.com) and watching interviews he's given.

    But the amazing thing to me is how someone can use their own personal tragedy to change the world. I know that sounds dramatic, but if you think about it, he has.

    Just in my small corner of the world this is a brief (and not all-inclusive) list of what I've learned...

    1. I read it and ultimately became a teacher of at-risk youth. I teach this book to each of my Reading classes.

    2. Many of my students (who HATE to read, by the way) love it and talk about it with (gasp) friends! Their friends who I don't even teach come to me and ask to borrow a copy to read.

    3. These students' parents often come to open house at school and just "have to know what this book is their kid won't stop talking about!" They too, often buy the book and read it. Who knows whether or not they pass it on.

    4. Other teachers (such as your pal) see I'm reading it with my students and borrow and read it. They then pass it on to others in their lives.

    5. After reading these books I became a CASA volunteer (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and advocate in court for a child in state's custody.

    The list could go on and on. My sincere hope (and I would venture to say Dave's as well based on his author's notes, etc) is that by reading this book, awareness of child abuse, its causes and consequences will be raised and maybe, just maybe someone's life can be spared.

  2. i followed your link. yeah, the NIV is translated, like many other versions, thought for thought, as opposed to a literal word for word translation. this is why the NASB is the most accurate "word for word" translation in modern english. i'm not knocking NIV, in fact, prefer it from a reading standpoint, but not for scholastic purposes...either way, a hell of a lot better than KJV.

  3. Bayouinga,
    I devoured ACCI in about an hour and a half, and the very next morning I ordered the other 2 books for my library's Teacher Resource Center. I have probably read thousands of books in my lifetime, and this one will be one I will never forget.
    I am eager to find the answers to my questions! I checked out his site and didn't find much of anything that is new information. If the other 2 books aren't revealing enough, I might need some insight.
    Kudos to you for being moved to action. Few people ever are.
    Did you get Teacher Man yet?

  4. gavin brown,
    Yeah, I thought that was a notable site for 2 reasons:
    1.The continuum of "word for word" to complete paraphrase was pretty interesting. I really didn't think the NLT would be so close to The Message.
    2. I haven't heard too terribly much about the IBS, but they definitely have more of an authority on translations than I ever will. Anyhoo, reading up a bit renewed my favor of the NAS.

    *I triple dog dare you to blog about versions. Now THAT makes people go crazy!

  5. I'll let you read the other books and then you need to watch 2 tapes I have (one of an interview on Oprah and one of an appearance on Larry King Live). It'll provide you with a lot of your answers... but I suspect you'll still have some. I'll be happy to share what I know later. FYI... he has also written a 4th book called The Privilege of Youth in which he fills in some gaps from the trilogy. One of his brothers also wrote a book published last year in which he chronicles what life was like in the house for him after Dave was rescued. Of course, I have them all and am happy to share them w/ you.

    BTW... just received Teacher Man this morning. Can't wait to get started on it. Thanks!


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