A Child Called It

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The autobiographical story of Dave Pelzer (called David in the books), victim of one of the worst cases of child abuse in California history. The first in a series of books based on his life, A Child Called It documents his life from the beginning of the abuse at age five, to age twelve. Not for the faint of heart.

It was published in 1995, followed by The Lost Boy, which chronicled Dave's teen years, ending with A Man Named Dave, about his adulthood. It was later followed up by a biography his brother wrote about how he became The Scapegoat after David was taken away. Another brother has claimed that A Child Called It is a lie and that David was taken into care for starting a fire and shoplifting.


Tropes used in A Child Called It include:
  • Abusive Parents: Catherine, Catherine, Catherine! David's father isn't totally innocent either, as he neglects his son and finally runs off, claiming he can't handle watching his wife abuse David.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Not only is David abused at home, but his classmates bully him as well.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Starving David for weeks on end and then giving him food not even the dogs eat is one of Catherine's methods.
  • Dissonant Serenity: After Catherine stabs David in the stomach, he wakes up with a bandage around his middle, and Catherine with a blank look on her face, calmly telling him to go finish the dishes.
  • It Is Dehumanizing
  • How We Got Here / Spoiler Opening: The book begins with the teachers calling the cops on Catherine and David being taken into care.
  • Kids Are Cruel: See All of the Other Reindeer above. In addition, a female classmate tries to convince David to kill himself on a fieldtrip. Also applies to David's younger brother Russel, whom Catherine trains to be "her little Nazi" and delights in torturing David as well.
  • Misery Lit: One of the best-known in the genre. And like many works in this genre, there's been some debate about how truthful it is.
  • Police Are Useless: No matter how often Catherine is suspected of abuse by the school, the police always buy her lies. (Also, in The Lost Boy, David runs away from home and is taken in by the police. He tries to tell them what's happening, and they call his father...who tells them that David is a liar and just ran away because he wasn't allowed to go bike-riding. And the police believe it.)