Memoirs of Trauma

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Carolyn Polese (review date December 1995)

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SOURCE: A review of A Child Called 'It,' in School Library Journal, December, 1995, pp. 139-40.

[In the following mixed review, the critic describes David Pelzer's A Child Called 'It' as "unforgettable," but faults the author's writing style and suggests that the book is not a good choice for young readers.]

This autobiographical account charts the abuse of a young boy as his alcoholic mother first isolates him from the rest of the family; then torments him; and finally nearly kills him through starvation, poisoning, and one dramatic stabbing. Pelzer's portrayal of domestic tyranny and eventual escape is unforgettable, but falls short of providing understanding of extreme abuse or how he made his journey from "Victim to Victor." It takes some work to get past the poor writing and the self-aggrandizing back matter, but the book tries fervently to provide a much-needed perspective. One of the greater obstacles to healing for males is admitting that they have been victims, especially if their perpetrator is a woman. This author has overcome that obstacle and succeeded in life by such masculine norms as joining the Air Force and receiving awards for his volunteerism. However, while personal accounts of child maltreatment provide crucial information about the realities of childhood, youngsters need insight and hope in order to digest the raw material of abuse. James Deem's The 3 NBs of Julian Drew (Houghton, 1994) is a well-crafted, fictional work that effectively covers much of the same ground.

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Mary Beth Loup (review date Spring 1995)

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Los Angeles Times Book Review (review date 16 September 1996)