My Story by Dave Pelzer
Combined Non-Fiction Trilogy:
Part 1: A Child Called It
‘Oh heck!’ That realisation on page one that you’ve been ripped wide open and reading this book might just kill you, mixed with the unstoppable urge to run and embrace your children and whisper in their ears how much you love them.
As I settled back against my pillow, I heard myself gasp. My husband, looked over and asked one question ‘is it true?’ I nearly cried, ‘yes it’s true’. Then he turned the light off, leaving me seriously considering getting up at 11pm, after a full-on day and reading through the night.
Yes, this all happened on page one. You have been warned.
I read up to chapter seven at the breakfast table the next morning, while watching my three children happily eat their breakfast after sleeping in warm comfy beds and marveled at their incredible privilege. Then I found myself asking my eight-year-old daughter if she’d noticed if any children in her class go hungry at lunchtime. She answered ‘no’ confidently, ‘everybody has lunch’. I ask her to ‘tell me if they don’t, we‘ll make them lunch.’ Then I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for our breakfast in schools' programs and our communities that pick up the slack. What a tragedy that children in our nation go hungry.
The unfathomable journey this little boy had to walk, shared in vivid detail, and through the heart-wrenching voice of a child, will leave its mark on you. What incredible spirit, what incredible courage.
I am thankful the book started with the rescue, as with an ending like ‘A child called it’ has, I don’t think my heart could have coped with not knowing he escaped. I was also glad to have picked up ‘My story’ – Dave’s collation of the three books, so I didn’t have to wait to read ‘The Lost Boy’ and ‘A man named Dave’. I felt as though I'd come to know this child, and in a way love him – and I needed to know he was okay. The epilogue was also powerful. I have such immense admiration for the man this little boy has become. The deliberate choices he's made to have a positive perspective. The appreciation he has for life despite the torture he endured at the hands of his own mother. What incredible strength – I salute you, Dave Pelzer.
“No matter what lies in their past, they can overcome the dark side and press on to a brighter world.” Pg 82
This is the heart of the book, the incredible miracle of turning tragedy into triumph.
Part 2: The Lost Boy & Part 3: A Man Named Dave
“It takes a community to raise a child,”
“I wish I were a real person.”
This book delves the ugly truth about the psychological and physical process that a foster child, abandoned child, and/or abused child goes through. It speaks to frustrations with the system, frustrations with the child’s brokenness and lack of ability to move on with their life, and the reasons why. It speaks to the incredible sacrifices that foster families make, why things work, and why they don’t.
It reveals the incredible fight between needing to escape the abuser’s clutches and the desperate need to be loved and accepted by them.
It speaks to the impact loving words, or simple acts of kindness can have on children in these circumstances.
The Lost Boy is a soul-wrenching description of a broken child. A child who feels as though they do not deserve anything else but the abuse they have become accustomed to. A child who carries the burden of the lie that they were responsible for their abuse, and their inability to stand up to their abuser. And then woven into his story are clues to his unmatched courage.
Dave grew up in a world where he was seen as a ‘less than’ purely because he did not live with his own parents. Add to that, the physical and psychological damage of his abuse, his fear of abandonment and desperate need to be accepted, leading him into all sorts of trouble.
From the outside, we (society) see a troubled kid, a naughty kid, a delinquent, a burden to society. We see a child who will never make anything of themselves, a child who will end up in prison, or worse. What an incredible privilege it is to have been given access to his most private thoughts, into his heart. To bear witness to his incredible strength, and determination to survive. His words are something which will stay with me forever, and will most certainly help me look at the world differently.
Dave heard and felt all of society’s judgement and so much more, and yet he not only survived but thrived. He found a way to come to peace with his past and step into a future that he could be proud of. He found a way to forgive those who had abused him, and now uses his horrific past as a tool to invest in victims of abuse, and those amazing people who work with them.
This series of books, re-iterates the importance of compassion, listening to your intuition and then acting on its behalf. Also, the importance of effective and informed training programs for those who work in positions that manage, judge, place, or work closely with children who have suffered abuse. Because when they get it wrong, it is literally the difference between life and death, broken and whole. I would highly recommend this book to anybody in the list above.
It does, as quoted in this book ‘take a community to raise a child,’ but it could only take one person to save one.