Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Dave Pelzer's A Child Called It. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
A Child Called It: Introduction
A Child Called It: Plot Summary
A Child Called It: Detailed Summary & Analysis
A Child Called It: Themes
A Child Called It: Quotes
A Child Called It: Characters
A Child Called It: Symbols
A Child Called It: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Dave Pelzer
Historical Context of A Child Called It
Other Books Related to A Child Called It
- Full Title: A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive
- When Written: 1991-1994
- Where Written: California
- When Published: Fall 1995
- Genre: Memoir
- Setting: Daly City, California, late 1960s and early 1970s
- Climax: Dave’s teachers call CPS and “free” Dave from Mother
- Antagonist: Mother / Catherine Roerva Pelzer
- Point of View: First person, present-tense (in the prologue and epilogue) and past-tense (in the rest of the memoir)
Extra Credit for A Child Called It
An American hero. Dave Pelzer served in the U.S. Air Force, and later fought in the Gulf War in the early 1990s. In 1996, he carried a torch for the Sumer Olympics, in recognition of his military service and his struggle to boost awareness of child abuse.
Controversy. A Child Called “It” has been praised for helping victims of child abuse come to terms with their trauma, and for giving abuse victims the courage to speak out against their abusers. However, the book has also received a significant amount of criticism, and there are some who’ve argued that Pelzer exaggerated or even made up the extent of his abuse. Articles in The New York Times and The Guardian have raised the possibility that Pelzer is exaggerating his childhood suffering to sell more books (after A Child Called “It”, Pelzer published two more bestselling memoirs revolving around the same traumatic experiences). Pelzer’s brother, Stephen, has disputed many of the claims in the book, including that their mother stabbed Dave in the chest, burned him, or forced him to consume ammonia. Pelzer has also been criticized for repeatedly claiming that A Child Called “It” was taught in Harvard classes and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize (neither claim is accurate).