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'My Story' is a touching trilogy, not to mention a true story, which describes the horrific and almost unbearable journey of one Mr Dave Pelzer, who, as a child, was severely abused by his mother. I can honestly say that no other story has gotten to me as much as this, the descriptive writing used in this book makes you feel like you are there and completely encapsulates you from start to finish. The terrible abuse suffered by Dave Pelzer as a child is something that, once read, will never be forgotten. At so many points during the reading of this book i found myself on the verge of tears, to know that somebody could live this sort of life for years on end is absolutely heart wrenching. I would definitely recommend buying this book and never letting it go, its an absolutely gripping story which is kinda like marmite, you'll either love it or hate it. I for one, absolutely adore this book!
My Story by Dave Pelzer is a trilogy which includes A Child Called "It", The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave.
I first heard about A Child Called "It" a few years ago after I had read a book called The Kid, by Kevin Lewis. I had mentioned the book, written about the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his parents, to a friend who told me I should also read A Child Called "It". She told me that it was a similar story, written about the harrowing abuse Dave Pelzer had suffered as a child and how he survived it.
I eventually got around to looking for the book a month or so ago. When I was looking I came across the trilogy. Realising that there were 2 more books after A Child Called "It", and that there was no doubt I would want to read them after the first, I decided to buy this book, My Story. The book is widely available both used and new, online and in good book stores. The cover price of the paperback book I purchased is £7.99, although a search online will of course bring this book up much cheaper, which is what I did. The book is 490 pages long in total, which includes all 3 books in the trilogy.
Please be aware before I get going with the story, if you haven't already read this book, there may be a few spoilers in here. I will try my best not to give too much away but with this book including 3 different stages of Dave Pelzer's life, it will be difficult to review the second and third books without giving away some of what happens previously. I hope that I do this truly inspirational book the justice that it deserves...
~ A Child Called "It" ~
This book starts with a note from the author, explaining that some names have been changed to maintain the dignity and privacy of others and is written in a way that reflects the age and wisdom of a child at the age he was at this time in his life. The book covers his life from the age of four to twelve. It is dedicated to his son Stephen, and a list of other people. The people who in his words saved his life.
There is no time to get into this book before the full force of this little boys abuse smacks you in the face. On the first page you learn about how he is treated by his mother. How she starves him. Also how he is so determined to survive. The first chapter is all about how he was rescued and the events and people that led up to the day that changed his life forever. What a start to a book! I was in tears as I read his story, I just couldn't believe that this was true. How did this kind of abuse go on for so long with no one doing anything about it?
Chapter 2 is titled "Good Times" and I sat in pure shock as I read that Dave came from a good home and was loved and cared for by seemingly perfect parents. At this point you have to wonder what went wrong.
The book then moves on to tell us some of the abuse that Dave suffered as a child. It is horrific that a mother could inflict this kind of pain and suffering on her own child. Yet she has other children that she treats much better! You learn about his fight to survive, how he struggles to get food and how his mother punishes him when she learns that he is stealing and eating when she doesn't believe he deserves to eat.
As I read further, Dave's story gets even more shocking. He tells us about the time his mother almost killed him. He titles this chapter "The Accident". It is horrifying. He writes about how he escaped from his life by imagining he was a super hero, which got him through the horror he suffered. We learn about how his father reacted to the way he was treated and turns more or less a blind eye to his suffering. Also about the alcohol abuse that seems to lead to most of the abuse. The last chapter is all about Dave losing any faith he had in God and the reasons why.
This book is finished firstly with an epilogue, which is written in a totally different way to the rest of the book. Here the author writes about how lucky he is and how that part of his life is now firmly in the past and here we learn for the first time that he now has a son of his own, Stephen and we get our first peek into the wonderful relationship that they have. An Afterward then follows, where the author writes about the true horrors of abuse and the extent that it happens. He sums up the story in just a few pages, and it is a truly inspirational thing to read. Completing the book is a short piece written by the teacher that reported the abuse to the authorities.
I couldn't put this book down and finished the 84 pages in a day. It was the most horrific thing I have ever read, yet I have to use the word inspirational again. This man, both now and as a child, is in no doubt amazing. I really don't know how he survived the trauma that his own mother inflicted on him.
~ The Lost Boy ~
The 2nd book in the trilogy follows the author's life from the ages of twelve to eighteen. Again this book is dedicated to a list of people, this time longer than the first. You can learn a lot from the categories he has placed these people in; a list of teachers, an "angel" of social services, and a long list of foster parents, friends and mentors... the list goes on. Again we start with acknowledgements and a note from the author, again mentioning that names have been changed and about the vocabulary and tone that have been used in this book.
In this book at times we go back to some of the same stories told in A Child Called "It". They serve as a reminder to us the reader as we learn about more of his life, in greater detail. He looks back at the times he spent with his parents and asks himself why he was treated the way he was. The first chapter tells us of a story we hadn't heard in the first book, when he had the chance to run away.
We then move on to learn about the social services worker, whom he refers to as an "angel". He writes about the day he was rescued in much more detail and his first foster home. How his mother was allowed to visit him but his foster mother assured him that she could no longer do him any harm. The visit from his mother worries him and although the social services worker tries to put his mind at rest, we wonder what he will say in court. Has she managed to get to him again? Will he end up having to go back to his mother?
The next part of the book is about the trial. I won't give away what happens here! However, we do learn how amazing the social services were with Dave at this point.
As the book moves on and Dave settles into his new life, he tells of his struggles; moving from one house to another, trying to fit in etc. He learns that he won't be in foster care for ever and how he must learn to care for himself and before he turns 18. You read of how he seems to do ok, and then things go wrong for him again. It's a vicious circle and you never know if he will manage to come out the other side ok. So much of his past still haunts his life. At one point he ends up in no end of trouble and I think this is the biggest turning point for him when he realises that it's now or never.
We really start to learn about what is happening and has been happening in the background with Dave's mother. How she is waiting for him to make more mistakes and how she will not take any responsibility or blame for her actions.
As Dave matures the story takes a completely different turn again. He knows what he wants from his future, and he seems to know how to get it. His relationships grow with his foster parents and the people around him. He has a visit with his father, which is a really emotional read. Dave has moved on so much but his father seems to be stuck in the past. Dave has a dream and he is on his way to get it...
Again we finish with an epilogue, which although written in much the same style as the epilogue in the first book, it seems to be so much more believable that he has come so far after reading this book. He touches more on his relationship with his son in this short section. He then writes about his perspectives on foster care and how amazing he thinks foster parents really are. The book finishes with short pieces from Dave's foster Mum, a teacher, chief probation officer and a mentor.
After reading this book in a few days, I was still amazed at how he had managed to survive this part of his life. You expect things would be much easier when he was rescued from his mother, but that was just the start. He had so much to learn.
~ A Man Named Dave ~
The final book in the trilogy is simply dedicated to his wife and his son. It starts again with acknowledgements, as this man is so thankful to everyone who has helped him with everything in his life. It also has the same author's note.
I am going to write about this book in a much simpler way. I don't want to give too much away for any of you that haven't read the first 2 books of this trilogy so I will keep this part short.
In the third and final book, you learn how all the loose ends are tied up. How in adulthood Dave still has difficulties and how he keeps trying to overcome them. Will he manage to become a pilot, his dream job? What will become of his father and his mother, and his brothers? Will he ever manage to forgive them all for the hell he suffered as a child? All these issues are addressed in this book. Also we read as he has his first relationship and as his child is born and how this effects his feelings and makes him think more about his past, needing answers to his questions. Will he ever get them?
In this book you learn about Dave, the adult. How far he has come from the little boy who used to sit on his hands at the bottom of the stairs in the basement, starving. How he refuses to let this happen to any other children and how he is determined to break the chain of abuse.
The final book again finishes off with an epilogue and then perspectives written by the author, a marriage and family therapist, his son, Stephen and finally his wife, Martha.
I sat reading this thinking what a truly amazing Adult Dave turned in to. I think most of us out there will learn so much from this book and I feel really humbled after reading this story. I only hope that I am half the Mum to my kids that he is the Dad to his son.
~ My Final Thoughts ~
I didn't expect to be able to write about this trilogy in a short review, but have tried to compact it as much as possible without losing any detail that I thought was necessary. This is truly one of the most inspirational books I have ever read and a real page turner. You just couldn't make some of this stuff up. I would highly recommend any one to read this trilogy if you haven't already and if, like loads of people out there, you have only read A Child Called "It", I would recommend that you read the 2 books that follow. Just make sure that you have a pack of tissues handy.
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