Biography of Dave Pelzer

Dave Pelzer is an American author of autobiographical and self-help books, and is a survivor of child abuse. His most famous book is A Child Called “It,” a memoir of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother while growing up.

He was born in San Francisco, California, as the second of five boys, to Stephen Joseph Pelzer and Catherine Roerva Christen Pelzer. He grew up in Daly City, California, and between the ages of 4 and 12, his mother horribly abused him, thinking of it as a game. This abuse did not stop until 1973, when his teachers at last stepped in and he was placed in foster care.

He joined the U.S. Air Force at age 18, in 1979, and went on to serve in the Gulf War. He was married twice, first to a woman named Patsy (though this is a pseudonym, not her real name), with whom he had a son, and then to his second wife, Marsha, who was his editor. He published his first book, A Child Called “It,” in 1995. His second book, The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family, detailing his life as a teenager in foster care, was published in 1997, finally followed by A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness, completing the autobiographical series.

There has been controversy over some of the abuse Pelzer details in his books, and both his maternal grandmother and his brother have disputed them. Another brother, however, confirms Pelzer's recollections in his own memoir. Because of the criticism he has received, Pelzer does not do interviews often; however, he does travel the country giving lectures and volunteering.

Study Guides on Works by Dave Pelzer

A Child Called “It,” published in 1995, was Dave Pelzer's first book. It is a nonfiction memoir, telling the story of his abuse as a child from the ages of 4 to 12 at the hands of his mother. It follows his childhood until a teacher at school at...

David Pelzer, in the second of his three autobiographical books, describes his life as an adolescent who has been taken from his mother in what contemporary court documents call the worst case of child abuse in the history of California in which...