58 pages 1 hour read

Dave Pelzer

A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1995

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Symbols & Motifs


Throughout the book Pelzer’s nostalgia serves as a foil to his extreme tragedy. It represents moments of light in an otherwise dark, bleak story. Even in the face of extreme pain, young Dave holds on to the memory and hope of a loving family. Writing as an adult, Pelzer still maintains some nostalgia for his early childhood, allowing these good memories to exist alongside the bad. This full trajectory of Pelzer’s childhood allows the reader to follow the progress of the family’s deterioration into abuse. Dave Pelzer’s ability to cherish good memories about his mother accentuate the book’s theme of the hidden underbelly of abuse. Even in Dave’s own mind, his mother’s abusive nature is somewhat hidden or shielded by his hope that she will one day revert to the loving mother he knew as a small boy.

The book also ends on a note of a nostalgia, when Dave returns to the scene of his happy childhood vacations on the Russian River with his own small son. In this moment of reflection Dave recalls all the good and bad that has occurred in his life. He remembers those golden early memories with his family at the Guerneville cabin.