• A Child Called 'It'

  • One Child's Courage to Survive
  • By: David Pelzer
  • Narrated by: Brian Keeler
  • Length: 3 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (2,840 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Dave Pelzer's astonishing, disturbing account of his early years describes one of the most severe child-abuse cases in California history. This book spent over 175 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Dave was in first grade when his unstable alcoholic mother began attacking him. Until he was in fifth grade, she starved, beat, and psychologically ravaged her son. Eventually denying even his identity, Dave's mother called him an "it" instead of using his name. Relentlessly, she drove him to the brink of death before authorities finally stepped in. With faith and hope, Dave grew determined to survive. He also knew that he needed to share his story.

A Child Called "It" is the first of three books that chronicle his life. Through publications and public appearances, Dave is now recognized as one of the nation's most effective and respected speakers about child abuse.

Listen to the second book in David Pelzer's harrowing, multi-part memoir of child abuse: The Lost Boy.
©1995 David Pelzer (P)2001 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Pelzer's portrayal of domestic tyranny and eventual escape is unforgettable." ( School Library Journal)

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What listeners say about A Child Called 'It'

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good one

I read this book before listening to it. I knew it would be good and it was. I recomend this.

28 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Heartbreaking

Being an adoptive and foster parent myself, this story is especially personal. Some have questioned the plausibility of David Pelzer’s account. I certainly can believe it may be all true and have heard similar stories in my area. Even if some of the details have been changed or slightly exaggerated, it’s really irrelevant. There’s no question that the abuse this boy suffered is very real.

Let this story inspire you to get involved! In my state alone there 1400 children in the foster care system looking for forever families.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Disturbing

I read this book a few years ago and nearly threw it out the window several times. Not because of the book itself, but because I couldn't take anymore descriptions of abuse.

I witnessed the abuse of my brother while growing up. It was not nearly as extreme as the authors but it brought back many memories.

For anyone that doubts the events in this book, please read the books written by the authors brother. When the author was removed, his brother became the target of their mothers abuse. He addresses and confirms many of the events in this and subsequent books.

18 people found this helpful

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Real

Would you listen to A Child Called 'It' again? Why?

Definately. It holds your attention with a very real story.

Which character – as performed by Brian Keeler – was your favorite?

Dave Pelzer

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me cry.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Too Sad....

Just a horribly sad story. I feel so bad for that poor child. How could a mother be that cruel? Listener beware: some of the incidents are utterly gross. Not for those with light stomachs. I truly hopes this helps educate others on child abuse. Other than that, I thought this was a heartfelt story of a child who overcomes all obstacles in the end. With that said, considering the story's main character was a boy, you'd think they'd try a get a narrator with a younger voice. Safe to say, I wasn't too keen on the narrator as I thought this one's voice was dull and boring.

26 people found this helpful

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The Most Touching Book I will Ever Read

Would you consider the audio edition of A Child Called 'It' to be better than the print version?

I hate reading without someone reading to me, be cause of my dyslexia. It made me enjoy this book so much more.

What other book might you compare A Child Called 'It' to and why?

None. There isn't anything like it

What about Brian Keeler’s performance did you like?

He read with emotion

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I cried the first time and I will cry every time I read it.

Any additional comments?

I had a similar life, and he taught me to keep my head up because its not over til its over. I also want to thank him, for the wonderful book he wrote

12 people found this helpful

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seriously emotional

What made the experience of listening to A Child Called 'It' the most enjoyable?

I'm not sure enjoyable is the best term for such a dark experience. It's an important book on a serious subject. It deeply affected me. I had a physical reaction to some of the horror described in this book. And yet its a book I would recommend to anyone who could stomach it.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, yet sad.

It's a very great book to read, but it's so sad, it touches your heart.

8 people found this helpful

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Recommended to me... and I to you

I work with folk who have come out of, or are in abusive situations... and this book provided insights that I couldn't have learned any other way. I would highly recommend to teachers, social workers, pyschology majors... anyone who has a role involving children. This is an adults remembrance of a childhood that goes from perfect to beyond abusive... all while the child continues to be surrounded by teachers, neighbors and family who fail to see and intervene.

The book is a stark and a difficult listen. The child is resiliant and it does get better... but I wouldn't consider it entertainment, rather education. That said, the world isn't pretty and by being unaware we are missing opportunities to intervene.

3 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking but needed

As a teacher, we are required to report suspected child abuse. It can be hard, not wanting to put stress on a family based on suspicion. But stories like this are a grave reminder of the consequences of not reporting, of second guessing yourself, of turning a blind eye. It’s so heartbreaking to view child abuse from the child’s perspective, but needed so that people can be more aware and speak up when they suspect a child is in danger. Thank you for your story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andy
  • 10-07-07

A stunner

Brilliant book, beautifully narrated by Brian Keeler. A emotional and turbulent insight into child abuse. Everyone should take a listen, you will be truly moved.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tiffany
  • 07-15-22

Content warning

Really well written and great flow. The mental images can be graphic and upsetting to some but brings a sense of realism and consciousness to child abuse happening in modern day

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  • Amanda Blackie
  • 02-14-22

Read for a study. Harrowing story

This was a book I read for my higher education, sometimes I had to stop. It does contain child neglect and abuse. How could. Mother do this

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  • Michaela Laver
  • 01-31-22

abuse

I been abuse by my real dad in 1981 to 1991 I still got the memories

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-21-21

inspirational and moving

finished it in 1 day, couldn't stop listing. inspired and moved by this story of survival

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  • Colin Maclean
  • 06-24-21

pretty heavy stuff but a must listen

narration good, pretty heavy but a really important talking point. not all if these stories end well and we need to learn the signs.

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  • Shaz
  • 03-16-21

gripping and heartbreaking .

such a sad start in life . rollercoaster of emotions , i wanted to reach out and protect the child at the same time give the mother a good beating .

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  • C. Gilchrist
  • 01-18-21

A shocking story

This book was recommended as reading material, after I attended a child abuse course as a police officer. I was so saddening, to hear Davids story. Yet a fitting end of joy.

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  • Sarah McEwan
  • 12-08-20

child called it

I've loved reading this book, but as I struggle to see, I've found listening to "a child called it" just as good on here, well worth listening to or reading as you listen to it!! x

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  • Becky
  • 11-17-20

Good book

Reader is quite annoying but story is good. Not quite sure how he remembers so much detail but still.

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  • Sue.Armstrong
  • 03-21-19

the level of child abuse this man suffered!!

very very enjoyable but at times very hard to hear what this man went through at the hands of his sadistic mother.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-12-21

Truly Shocking

What a devastating story yet also an inspiration from a man who managed to capture his tortured life into words and continue to live and grow with his own family.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-21

wow

What a strong Spirit, what an incredible and horrible experience.
Thank you for using this to create change in our world x

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-16-21

Heartbreaking and amazing

Heartbreaking story of Davids’s childhood and cruelty of one mother towards her own son! Amazing how David survived those horrors and will power to live and not give up! Beautiful narrated by Brian Keeler this is a must listen book for us all because every one of us can help rather than turn a blind eye! I was a survivor of my own child and later husband abuse but it would’ve been a big help if I knew that help was out there! I read critics review and some people suggest that it was not as bad as David made it out- it is totally untrue- No body can invent or make up such a story, you have to live through it! Well done David for being a person you are today!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-20-21

Heartbreaking but eye opening

As a victim of child abuse this story hit really hard but also helped me process my pain in some ways.
Very well written and narrated
well worth the listen

1 person found this helpful

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  • Thomas martin
  • 11-20-20

Incomprehensible is so many ways.

Such a sad story of a helpless boy who had everyone reject him in desperate need for help until intervention years later. Some events are a little hard to believe to of occurred to the full extent of his recalling and seems to leave out some more pivotal information. But nonetheless a hard book to stomach especially if benefit of the doubt is given to the extent of his truth actually occurring.

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  • Samantha Rogers
  • 10-11-20

Amazing Novel

This is an incredible story as is the other two books in this series. However, it makes me wonder how much "truth" there is to this narrative.