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"It" vanished for ever on 5th March 1973 with the words, "David, you're free. Your mother is never going to hurt you again."These twelve words were spoken by the Policeman who had taken the twelve-year-old Dave Pelzer away from his school.
They were spoken the day after he had been thrown down the garage stairs by his mother.They were spoken on the day the staff at Thomas Edison Elementary School laid their jobs on the line to intervene to protect him, a 5th Grade student. Following a weekly inspection of his bruised body, his injuries recorded in detail by the school nurse, they contacted the Police and he was taken into the care of the San Mateo Juvenile Department.
His is the third worse case of child abuse recorded in California. I shudder to think about those two worse cases.
Written using the words of a child, the book begins with an introductory chapter telling of his rescue. The following pages relate the details of his tortured boyhood and are followed, in the latter part of the book, by a testimonial from Steven Zeigler, his 5th Grade homeroom teacher, and extracts from the next books in the series "The Lost Boy" and "A Man Named Dave".
It has taken me around 4 hours in total to read the whole 216 pages of the book.
The first one hundred and sixty nine pages held me mesmerised, bewitched as if I was reading a Grimm's Tale. I devoured the story in its horrific detail, unable to believe I was reading autobiographical fact. It is not fiction. This story is true!In these few hours I have read of a little boy whose first years were magical, a perfect life. He tells of family life with his two older brothers, his hard-working Fireman father and an enthusiastic mother, who would spend hours cooking fantastic meals in a well maintained and well cared for home, a home that would sparkle with Christmas decorations. He tells of holidays and introduces his favourite place in the world - the banks of the Russian River at Guerneville, California.
The good times didn't last. There is no clear reason given, perhaps the boy was louder than his older siblings. In any case, how would a child know the cause? When Dave was four his now alcohol dependent mother took to spending the days on the sofa watching television, and increasingly treated the young Dave as less than a servant and worthy of only derision. His brothers were, apparently, treated normally, looking on and as they grew older they began to join in, egged on by the younger Russell who made up stories to get Dave into trouble.I have read of a little boy whose arm was damaged by his mother, who left him overnight and in pain, only taking him to the hospital the following morning so that she could claim he fell out of his bunk.
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David J. Pelzer's mother, Catherine Roerva, was, he writes in this ghastly, fascinating memoir, a devoted den mother to the Cub Scouts in her care...
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