The Child Called “It” is written by David Peltzer and tells the story of his childhood and the abuse that he had to endure from his mother, terrible things from beatings to locking him in a room while it slowly filled with toxic gas. Peltzer talks about how he grew up feeling spite and anger towards people since they got to be fed and experienced happiness while he was treated as a slave and was lucky to find any food in general. Peltzer also talks about how by the time he was in the 5th grade, he had already given up on his school career and in reality, his life. He talks about how he would steal food from other kids at school and after, getting caught, eventually moving on to a store. He talks about how he once saw his dad as his savior and how he felt that if his dad was home that he wouldn’t have to endure as much pain than if his dad was at work. Eventually that changed for him, and he began to see his dad as a coward and began to feel spite towards him as well. His story of abuse ends with a police officer telling his mom that Peltzer would not be coming home and taking him somewhere in a police car ensuring him that his mother will never hurt him again.
This story was completely heartbreaking and simultaneously hard to read and hard to put down. While reading the book I felt like I could feel Peltzer’s pain and all of the things that he went through. The things that he had to go through are so horrific it doesn’t seem like it’s possibly real, but it is. Something that I don’t really understand is why the mom was so cruel towards David but was seemingly kind to the other children. It makes your heart go out to David more knowing that the other children are getting proper meals and getting to sleep in their beds while David is punished for having food in his belly and for most of the book sleeping on a cot in the garage in the cold.
I also don’t understand why everyone was so passive about it and just let it happen. The father irritates me the most in this scenario because he not only lets the mom abuse David, but he also leaves the family without doing anything to try to help him. Maybe I’m just not understanding how times were different or something, but it just feels like to me that he just sort of gave up on David when David needed him the most. Even though I knew how the story ended, I hoped that the father would step in, maybe tell his wife to go to hell and take his son away from that waking nightmare but he never did. Even when he left the family I was hoping that on the next page it was going to say that the father looks David with him when he left and that he’d finally be at peace but obviously, like I said earlier, you already know how David’s story ends.
One of the most chilling parts of the book is when the mother stabs David. This is written as an accident in the book saying that the mother was swaying and lost her balance, but I did some research after I read the book and in an article it says that Richard, the boy who was sitting on the mother’s lap when it happened said that he wholeheartedly believed that the mother meant to stab David and that he was sure that her end goal of the abuse was to eventually kill him. when David had to squeeze the infection out of his would it made me feel disgust and anger. Not disgust in the sense that it’s an infection, but in the sense that you could tell in that moment alone that mother truly did not care in the slightest whether David lived or died.
This was also evident in the mother having her sick fun with ammonia. Not only did she make David drink it, which caused chemical burns in his mouth, but she also put it in a bucket with bleach to create chlorine gas which is toxic to breathe in. Peltzer described it as being put in a gas chamber and would try to keep his air as toxic-less as he could by staying low to the ground and putting a rag over his mouth. I’m honestly amazed that it didn’t end up killing him considering how dangerous that stuff is. I wouldn’t be surprised if Peltzer had some serious respiratory problems now that he’s older. Another thing the mother did to David was put him in cold water for long periods at a time which for some reason reminded me of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (I know that the boy in that movie wasn’t left in cold water but just was in hot water but didn’t get out for hours but that what was in my head the whole time reading about this part.)
I thought the epilogue with Peltzer’s son was heartwarming, how he had gone through hell as a child but is not an adult with a son who he cares about. Peltzer seems to have gotten a better ending to his story that most get. A lot of kids who are abused either grow up to be substance abusers, child abusers, or die while in the custody of their abusers. I hope that peltzer is doing well for himself, hopefully he made some good money on his autobiographies and doesn’t have to worry about much anymore. I hope that Peltzer gave his son the family that he never got.