Pros: True, emotional story, well written and heartfelt
Cons: Still leaves questions
The second part of this story is dramatically different than ?A Child Called It?.
Dave?s parents are drunk and fighting again. They always fight and the fight is always about him. Father tells Mother that he treats The Boy badly.
Mother throws her nine year old child out of the house. She is so cold to her child that it is unnatural. You can?t identify with Mom. When you read about her sinister acts of violence towards one of her five children, you just open your mouth wide and wonder why.
Dave leaves the house. It?s cold, almost dark and he has nowhere to go. It?s Saturday night and he hasn?t eaten since Friday morning at school. He goes in search of food.
Walking along a strip mall, he sees a pizza bar. He imagines having a real, hot meal. Not stolen or from a dumpster, but his very own meal.
Going into the bar, David looks for pizza scraps on all the tables. He finds a quarter on a pool table and snatches it.
The manager caught him and made him give it back to the customers who were playing pool. When asked what Dave is going to do with a quarter, he explains that he just wanted food.
The manager gets him a coke, promises him pizza, and calls the police.
You want to scream as they take Dave away and call his parents. Father comes to get him, explaining to the authorities that he got mad and ran away because his mother wouldn?t let him ride his bike.
Dave has never been on a bicycle.
Dave is lectured about putting his parents through so much trouble. His Mother must be so worried and you should treat your parents with the respect and dignity they deserve.
I found this so hard to believe! Couldn?t they tell something was terribly wrong with this child? Do they always buy such lame excuses with no questions asked when a child runs away? These questions haunt you throughout this book.
March 5, 1973 is the day that David becomes free from his pathetic existence. It happened so fast, the poor kid could barely keep up.
He goes to school and is simply taken away. He says goodbye to his emotional teachers, and leaves with the police officer.
His only regret was not saying goodbye to his English teacher, who was out sick that day.
The officer calls Dave?s mom. He informs her that David will not be coming home today and if she has any questions, she can call the juvenile court.
He tells David that it?s over. He promises Mother will never hurt him again.
Dave is taken directly to the hospital. In addition to multiple bruises on top of bruises, Dave?s arms are dry, red and raw from years of exposure from harsh cleaning chemicals. When the doctor pinched his fingertips, he couldn?t feel it.
He severely malnourished and small for his age.
David doesn?t tell of any other medical problems. He has trouble breathing a lot, but he is very fortunate to be as healthy as he is.
The officer takes David to his first foster home. He tells David that it?s boys like him that made him want to be a policeman and wishes him the best.
David never even knew his name.
David?s first home was with a lady named Aunt Mary. The first night he was there, Dave went nuts. After being cooped up for years, David ran around, screaming and jumping on all the beds.
He was finally free!
Ms. Gold was Dave?s first social worker. They became best friends. They book doesn?t say this, but you could call her Dave?s first love.
Dave is still a terrified child. He has nightmares about his mother and he just knows that Mother is around every corner, waiting for him. He is even more horrified when he learns that the stories of his life that he?s told Ms. Gold, will be used against Mother.
No one goes against Mother.
Throughout the book, I just knew Mother would get him back somehow. This made the book very suspenseful, even during the slow parts.
During the few visits from his mother, she was so cold, it was freakish.
How is The Boy is doing? She asks during one visit. Mary lets her know that DAVID is just fine and DAVID is right here beside me, see?
Never looking at him or even acknowledging him, she lets Mary know that The Boy is a violent trouble maker...watch out for The Boy...You?ll see!
Aunt Mary doesn?t give in to Mother?s games. DAVID is a fine young man, especially after what DAVID has been through.
Dave wants to burst inside. Finally! Someone is putting Mother in her place!
She makes threats towards him, swearing she would get him back.
Scared he starts telling Ms. Gold the stories Mother brainwashed him to say.
With court in two days, Ms. Gold tells David that his future is up to him. What he says in court will determine whether he goes home with Mother or becomes and warden of the state.
David better think about the things he does very, very carefully.
David feels like a traitor. He is expected to go into court and tell ?the family secret?. He has every intention of telling the judge it was a misunderstanding and that he should go ?home?.
On the stand, he crumbles. They declare him a warden of the state of California.
After court, Mother approaches David. She tells him that she is sorry. She says he has another chance, a new beginning. Be good.
David says that he looked into her eyes and knew that she cared for him. I say he was taken again. This Mother doesn?t care about anyone.
Dave started to relax a little, but this child wants a family so badly. He is afraid he will never see his parents or brothers again.
You have no idea why he cares. He?s in a good environment, but he just can?t let go of his past.
Losing interest in school, he turns very rebellious. He continues to steal food, basically just for the sake of stealing it.
He soon wore out his welcome at Aunt Mary?s. He was transferred to another foster home, considered to be permanent. He met his new parents, Lilian and Rudy Catanze.
He learns about the rules of being a foster child. At first, he was proud of it. Other foster children informed him that it was not something to be proud of because foster children are looked down upon in society. They are all made out to be bad apples.
Ms. Gold informs Lilian that David is to have no contact with his mother or brothers, but seeing his father is allowed.
He made friends with Big Larry, another foster child in the home. They went to see Dave?s first movie, Live and Let Die. James Bond became Dave?s new hero.
One day during a large family picnic, a boy tells Dave that he heard that his mom used to beat the crap out of him, what was that like? Not believing that anyone would do this, Dave becomes angry. Larry is very insistent.
?Seriously, I?m curious, what is it like, man? Why didn?t you fight back? Are you a wimp or something??
These thing follow him everywhere he goes. The kid simply can not get a break. He is gullible and desperate for friendship.
One day, Mother stops in to visit. She gives him an old, beat up bicycle that he had for years, but was not allowed to ride.
She tells him that she?ll be checking up on him so be very, very good. For the first time in the book, she calls him David.
As they leave, Dave notices the youngest boy, Russell has a cast on his leg.
He fixed the bike up and it was his prized possession. He finally felt like a real boy.
Quite frankly, this book isn?t as exciting as the first in this series. Dave continues doing his best to be good and fit in, it just doesn?t work that way.
He makes bad decisions and takes acceptance whenever and however he can get it. He usually gets it from the wrong sources.
You wonder if anyone has worse luck than David Pelzer.
Still dealing with severe social and emotional problems, Dave goes to see a counselor straight out of the Twilight Zone.
He goes into the dark office, thinking he?s alone. He doesn?t even know if he?s in the right place. Finally, a man behind the desk turns and begins studying David.
First, the doc keeps calling him Daniel. Dave corrected him a few times, to no avail. The doctor reflects back on the time where his mother held him arm over the stove burner.
He asks David how that made him feel.
The doctor wants to know why Mother abused David and other odd questions. Do you hate you mother? It?s OK to hate her for what she did...David knew that something was terribly wrong.
I wondered if doc was one of Mom?s friends.
Dave left more confused than ever.
One day, Dave does something really stupid. Still missing his family, he can?t resist the temptation to ride by his old house with Larry. As they ride by, two of Dave?s brothers poke their heads out of the window.
The boys ride off as fast as they can.
By the time they got home, Mother had already called wondering why The Boy wasn?t being controlled properly.
Dave does not understand why he is not allowed to go near Mother. Lilian explains that Mother told her that if she can not manage The Boy, she will find someone who can.
He is grounded indefinitely. For Dave, being grounded is just not a very big deal.
That night, he tried to call Mother. She changed her phone number, making it unlisted. The cruelness continues.
Father schedules visitation with Dave. Dave is glued to the window all day long, just knowing he?ll show up. He never does.
Why doesn?t he just give up? He can?t accept what he has, he just can?t stop seeking the answers to his past.
David continues his mistakes. He meets a boy named John one day. John was another very troubled child, who was struggling with one of his teachers.
Dave wanted to be in ?his gang?.
His initiation into the gang is to flatten at least two of the teacher?s tires. David pops one of them, but chickens out before finishing the deed.
John later talks about setting the classroom on fire. David thought it was all talk, so he played along. He talked about ?The Plan? with many other children, often passing it off as his own idea. He never had any intentions of doing such a thing.
One day, Dave walks down the hall at school to discover that John had set the fire. As the fire becomes out of control, John runs away. Dave stays there and puts the fire out.
John tells the principal the entire idea was Dave?s and he had nothing to do with it.
He is taken to the San Mateo County Juvenile Hall - ?The Hill?
David didn?t mind it much at The Hill. He knew exactly what was expected of him.
One day, he receives a visitor. He didn?t even know he could have visitors. Hoping it was Ms. Gold or Lilian, David is shocked to see his father.
Father is cold, threatening, and mean to Dave. He talks about papers that Mother wanted him to sign years ago and he was considering signing them now. Dave had no idea what these papers were and didn?t think about it much.
Father is a fireman so he is particularly upset about the fire.
Next, Lilian visits him and risks her foster license. She starts by warning Dave that he does not have to accept visitors. He should ask who it was and not accept a visit from his parents.
She is setting him up and trying to have him committed. If Father signs the papers, he?s got both parent?s signatures.
At first David doesn?t understand. Lilian makes him realize how closely Mother has been watching him and taking advantage of every mistake he?s made. She declares him incorrigible.
She has told the people at the Mental Health Dept. a number of lies, like that he tried to set the house on fire several times under her care. She is capitalizing on every mistake he?s making.
Lilian says she never saw anyone try so hard to have her flesh and put away. She vows to fight for him. They are willing to hire a lawyer and do whatever it takes to keep Her from winning. Her words are so passionate, I?m about to cry writing this.
Her words get through. He becomes an outstanding inmate. He gets it together and faces what is before him.
For the first time, he calls Lilian ?mom?.
In court, the attempt to put him away fails. He is sentence to 100 days at the juvenile home, most of which had already been served.
Mother made another outburst yelling about how evil David was and that everyone would see how terrible he was and see that she did nothing wrong.
When Dave was released, he went back to live with Lilian and Rudy. However, things were not the same.
The children acted different with him and wouldn?t have anything to do with him. He spent most of his time alone in his room.
One day Gordon, Dave?s probation officer, took him away.
He didn?t have a home for David. After trying several unsuccessful possibilities, Gordon takes him to stay with Alice.
Alice wasn?t licensed to care for boys, but agreed to keep him for a while.
After a few days, the search began again for Dave?s new home. He goes from place to place searching for a family.
Dave?s day by day stay with Alice and Harold Turnbough turned long-term. Alice and Harold were very close. She urged him to get over his past and make something of his life.
He started doing odd jobs and saving money while he was still in school.
When the other foster boys stole his money and many belongings, he left again. After staying at the juvenile home for a few weeks, he was placed at yet another foster home.
John and Linda Walsh were a young couple and were very good to him. When they told Dave they were moving one day, he was crushed. Then he realized that he was moving with them!
Dave felt like he had a real home.
In the final chapter of this book, David look for his father. He had left tons of messages with him, none of which are returned.
Dave leaves on his motorcycle one day to get some answers.
He goes to the old firehouse where Father once worked. A friend informs him that he was forced to take an early retirement. The booze had really gotten to him.
Relieved that Father isn?t dead, his search continues.
When he finally finds Father, he looks horrible. He?s a homeless drunk. They can?t even look at each other.
He tells David to just forget about everything and pretend it didn?t happen. He tells him to get out of town, as far away as he can. One of the brothers joined the service, and Father makes that suggestion for David.
Just don?t end up like me, he pleads.
No apology, no I love you, no sympathy.
A few months later, after getting his GED, David enlists in the Air Force. Mother heard word of this and called the day before he left.
She was nice and wished him well, but David never heard the only three words he ever wanted his mother to say. I love you.
I was a bit disappointed by this book. It answered very few of my questions and made me ask even more.
It is appalling that Mother never served any jail time. Not only was she allowed to keep her other children, she was allowed to continue her abuse.
What happened to the other boys? To what degree were they tortured?
This book is interesting and well written. It is an important story that needs to be told. It is just outrageous that it was allowed to happen.
There is a third story called A Man Named Dave. I have to wonder if it will leave more questions too.
If you are being abused in any way, get help right now. There are people out there who care about you and will be happy to help you. It is not your fault. Take one day at a time. Leave now and don?t worry about tomorrow until it arrives.
Child Help USA offers a 24-hour hot line, national information and a referral network
6463 Independence Ave.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Child Welfare League of America
440 First Street NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20001-2085