40 pages 1 hour read

Dave Pelzer

The Lost Boy

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1997

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Chapters 1-3Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “The Runaway”

The story is narrated by David Pelzer, a nine-year-old living in Daly City, California, who is severely abused by his alcoholic and emotionally-disturbed mother. Although David is one of five boys, his mother has singled him out as the “sole target for her unexplained rage and twisted pleasure” (4). She forces him to sleep in the garage, frequently refuses to feed him, and plays twisted “games” with him to keep him in a constant state of fear and submission. From the garage, David can hear his parents drunkenly quarreling about him. His mother eventually calls him upstairs and declares that his father has accused her of treating David badly. She opens the front door and tells David, “If you think I treat you so badly, you can leave” (10). David realizes that this may be his only chance to escape and decides to run out the door and head for the Russian River, where he remembers going on vacation as a child.

After walking for a few hours, David soon begins to get cold and hungry since he has not eaten since he was at school the day before. He goes into a pizza store and steals a quarter from some men playing pool.