40 pages 1 hour read

Dave Pelzer

The Lost Boy

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1997

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Important Quotes

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“I have no home. I am a member of no one’s family. I know deep inside that I do not now, nor will I ever, deserve any love, attention or even recognition as a human being. I am a child called ‘it.’” 

(“The Runaway”, Pages 4-5)

The opening chapter provides a flashback to the early years of David’s life, during which he is severely abused by his alcoholic mother. One of the many ways in which she demeans him is by referring to him exclusively as “it” or “the boy”; her treatment of him is so dehumanizing that he no longer feels worthy of “recognition as a human being.” Because of his early experiences, David will spend his years growing up in foster care looking for the sense of home and family that he never received in his parents’ house.

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“I have no friends, no places to hide, nothing to turn to. But I know exactly where I’m going–the river. Years ago, when I was a member of The Family, for every summer vacation we would drive up to the Russian River in Guerneville. The best times in my life were the days spent learning to swim at Johnson’s Beach, riding down the Super Slide, going on hayrides at sunset and playing with my brothers on the old tree stump by our cabin […] Guerneville was the only place I ever felt safe.” 

(“The Runaway”, Page 13)

When David’s mother tells him to run away if he feels she treats him so badly, David decides to seize the opportunity and leave the house that has become a prison for him. He decides to go to the Russian River because he associates it with his only happy memories. What David longs for above all is to return to the times when the family was happy, his mother treated him well, and he did not have to constantly fear for his own safety.

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“I feel like a trapped animal who wants to claw its way through the glass. The closer we get to The House, the more I can feel myself quiver inside.” 

(“The Runaway”, Page 31)

When his father picks him up from the police station after his mother allows him to run away, David dreads returning to “The House,” where he knows his mother will be waiting to punish him.