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The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer is a remarkable and captivating sequel from Pelzer’s bestselling novel called “A Child Called It.” In the book A Child Called It, The author tells the story of a young boy around four whose family started off like any other “perfect” family, that is until his mother began to become very aggressive towards him. Things began to escalate and soon he found himself in a predicament. The novel ends with David ending the day with his son in a place where he used to go with his family when he was younger and there weren’t any problems yet.
In the Lost Boy the scene begins in winter of 1970 in Daly City, California. Dave in now nine years old and is still being abused by his mother. He describes the place he once called “home” a “prison” now and that he is his mother’s prisoner. He is not considered to be a part of the family and receives little to no food to intake. He is assigned specific chores in the house with a time limit for each and is punished if he does not complete them when the time is up. His school had become his safe haven even though he was still an outcast there as well. He began to steal food from the school because that was the only way to get food without his mother knowing until he was caught one day. As soon as he came home from school his mother would make him throw up in order to see if he had stolen any food.
One day he was given an opportunity to escape his prison and took it but it wasn’t long before he was back in his mother’s grip. When he went to school his mother would tell him that if people asked him why he had bruises and things as such to lie about what happen but even that didn’t take long for people to catch up on the lies. On March 5, 1973, staff members from his school had enough information about his situation and called the police to notify them about it. That same day the police officer took him away and reassured him that his mother will never lay a hand on him ever again. He was then taken into a foster home, won against his mother in court and then recognized as a permanent ward of the court.
Finally feeling free from his mother’s entrapment, he set out going from foster home to foster home. Not knowing what it meant to be free and having to be responsible of himself and the actions he would eventually take, he began to get into trouble. The feeling of being wanted, appreciated, and liked persuaded him to commit actions that landed him into San Mateo County Juvenile Hall. He is visited by many people including his father who he had not seen in awhile and is scolded by him because Dave’s mother was waiting for a chance like this where Dave would eventually mess up and use that to her advantage and to get him institutionalized for good as well as to justify her actions that she had taken towards him.
She failed and Dave was released later on. He behavior changed and he soon realized that his mother would never care for him and that the mother and father he was looking for was not going to be found within his biological parent but with his last foster parents. He enrolled into the air force and the novel ends with him getting on a plane stating that this is where his adventure begins.
In this novel itself, Dave endures physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. His mother loved to play “games” with him for example like making him stand in front of her and not speak or move. She would then proceed to grab his ear and would then slap his face because he flinched or moved. He wasn’t referred as Dave or son anymore, rather he was “the boy” or “it” and was brainwashed into thinking that he deserved everything his mother was putting him through. The hero he once knew now was nothing more than a person unwilling to help him. Dave’s father lied for his wife as to why Dave ran away from the house then scolded him later saying to just stay away from his mother’s way and do whatever she wanted because she was making his fathers like difficult to handle.
His mother used tactics such as isolation for example where he wasn’t allowed to play with his brothers anymore, or go out from the house except for school. She also used emotional abuse as stated in the previous paragraph where she would put him down by not even acknowledging him as her son and making him feel like he is nothing but “a child called it”. She would use her adult privilege by treating Dave worst than a servant, punishing him and always bossing him around and using intimidation to instill fear in him. After he was able to escape her grip, Dave found himself years later, seeing his brother Russell and noticing familiar behaviors of abusement from his mother now instilling on his brother.
In the course of this novel, mostly everyone tried to help, except his father when he could have told the truth to the police officer when he went to the police station to get Dave after he ran away. Instead he covered up for his wife and let the abuse continue. Since this story is a two book story, most of the people who could have intervened are in the first novel. For example, his father once again who have stopped the situation from getting to where it did. The grandmother who could have done something about it as well and maybe his first school staff who did not investigate as to why he was stealing food in the first place.
Dave’s abuse ends as stated previously when one day he goes into school and he is called in with the nurse and principal and some of his teachers who have been investigating why he comes to school with old and torn clothes, bruises, burn mark, and a scar of where the knife cut through when his mother stabbed him. They call the police and he is taken away. That is when the physical abuse ends. The emotional abuse does not end until he finally feels at home with his last foster parents.
It is difficult to say what type of maltreatment that Dave endured was the worst because every maltreatment his mother inflicted upon Dave was horrible. If it had to be just one, emotional abuse would be the worst because his mother had so much power over him buy conditioning his brain to think that he deserved everything he went through because he was a “bad kid” and he was a disappointment. Sometimes emotional pain is worse than physical pain. It takes longer to heal emotional wounds than physical ones.
Even with everything Dave went through while he was with his mother, the strength of at first trying to make his parent proud to try to show them that they were wrong about him and that he was not a bad kid but a good one gave him the strength to keep moving forward. The little hope that he had to one day be free from the abuse gave him the strength to continue his days. Sometimes those who suffer only once, get severely scarred that they become damaged and can no longer try to move on but Dave was the opposite. He suffered immensely and still did not let that damage him from trusting people to help him and love him. The stuff he went through made him even stronger. It is like the saying “What doesn’t kill you only makes your stronger”.
A child could be getting abused at this moment while this essay is being written by mothers, fathers, family. I’ve learned how far a mother can take child maltreatment and it is terrifying to know how emotionless they can continue to do so. As I was reading this novel, tears streamed down my cheeks. I’m very passionate with issues like this even with animal abuse itself as well. To know that there are people out there who are capable of doing this is really disgusting. So many other emotions came rushing as I continued to read this novel like anger, frustration, confusion, and at last happy and relieved. One question i asked myself throughout the book is why exactly did his mother begin this maltreatment. How did she go about thinking that Dave will be the one to inflict all this too? How did she come to this conclusion?
Sometimes being extremely passionate about situations like this, definitely drains one emotionally and slowly changes one’s attitude and feelings. I would to some extent be able to work alongside the victim or the victim’s family because the feeling that you could help make the child’s life better is priceless but I also feel like I will get too attached and not be able to think things clearly
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