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“The lost Boy” by Dave Pelzer Essay

Dave Peltzer the author of “The Lost Boy” tells his story from the time he left his abusive mother and alcoholic father, through his experiences in five foster homes and juvenile detention, and how he eventually made it into the Air Force. He was a defiant, rebellious boy who, despite his background and personality, managed to endear himself to many guardians, social workers, and teachers. Pelzer writes in an honest, sometimes rambling, style; he is never bitter, and his story will find many sympathetic readers. The main purpose for Dave to write this book is to show at what lengths children and adolescents have gone to over come the unmentionable hardships of and abusive family. The three most valuable things I have learned from this book are very hard to choose. The book was full of many things to help me in my everyday life. Ranging from how to deal with kids who have be through abusive situations to how kids of abuse act in general. The first one has to be, Dave was very tactful in how he handled his thoughts and feelings.

Many children his age are running around chasing girls and hanging with the guys. Not him he was studying hard and trying to be better than his parents were. He would always squander away what he had, so no one could take what was rightfully his and that includes his life. The second thing that was useful was how Dave was never angry with his situation he would just look at it as another challenge. Many times through out the book Dave would have to change foster homes after being fairly settled in the way of living there. Most teens his age can’t handle a great deal of change but Dave would just go with the flow and never bat an eye lash. The third most valuable thing has to be his willingness to help. I would think that since no one would help him he would not help anyone else. On the contrary, Dave was always helping with chores, making dinner, and doing little extra things he didn’t have to do. I later found out through reading the book that Dave’s willingness to help stems from his need to feel loved and wanted.

I can honestly say that I could never have gone through the painstaking trials and tribulations Dave went though while he was in his teen yes. It take a special person to do that and Dave is that special person.


Dave’s mother was a very troubled woman who for some unknown reason liked to target Dave and blame him for any and all bad things that happened. His mother was and Authoritative and neglectful at the same time. Some may say how can one parent be on both extremes of things but there are a few instance with in the book which shows both. For example Dave’s mother would make him do all the chores and never was aloud to play. For some reason even if Dave finished what he was told to do in the time he was told to do it he would not be fed or worse he would be part of his mother “Games and Test”. His mothers “Games and Tests” range from putting him in freezing cold water for 5 hours at a time to making him sit on the garage steps with his hands under his bottom head strait a head for up to 36 hours at a time no food, bathroom, shower or other needs to live.

Dave was saved from this horror when he was 15 but he was in foster care and the parenting techniques ranged from authoritarian to indulgent, but anything was better than what he had endured at his mothers house.


Dave in his teen years was for the most part a very well behaved boy. He was working hard in school and kept to himself for the most part. Although Dave did have a small problem he like to take things with out asking or stealing. Dave’s stealing habits stem from his basic survival needs that he instinctively put up when his mother would make him go with out food, water, and basic sanitation. Dave at times would also lash out at his foster families so that they would not get to close to him. In some cases when Dave would lash out he would be put into another foster home and have to readjust to things again. Dave usually liked to lash out he thought he didn’t need anyone just himself. He could handle himself since he could handle his mother “Games and Tests”. Dave’s delinquent actions are fairly normal of abused and neglected teens. Dave was also just being a normal teen trying find himself in a world that had not found him for almost 12 years.


Dave did have a great deal of depression in his life. He would think why does my mother treat me like I am a piece of *censored*? Dave’s depression stemmed from he long ours of being with himself. He had many hours, day, months, and years to think about what he had done. His mother made him out to be an evil unwanted child who was worthless. Dave thought the main reason his mother didn’t like him and his father wouldn’t talk to him any more that he had failed as a son. Not till Dave was in foster care and his foster parents brought him to a therapist did Dave realize what had happened to him was to his fault and Dave was a normal boy. His mother was suffering from alcoholism and manic depression and her outlasted were targeted at him cause he was his fathers pride and joy. His father ignored him to please his wife (Dave’s mother). His father also started drinking to drowned his sorrows. SUICIDE You would think that since Dave was so brutally abused and his own mother stabbed him almost to death with out even drinking him to the hospital he would have wanted even once to kill himself.

I know that if anyone did anything like Dave’s mother did to me and I had to change homes 7 different times and had kids picking on me cause I smelled or I didn’t have a real mom or dad I would want to kill myself. Not Dave, he only worked harder to live and please anyone including his mother so that in hopes she would stop this unlawful actions against him. Not once did Dave even want to end his life instead of thinking negatively he would say “When I get older and out of here, I will be a better man” I will be the man my father once was. Dave during his time at his mothers house always held his dad on a pedestal. No mater what happened Dave’s dad was Superman to him. Dave would think of flying away with his dad to a better place where he would be a person not just a “Child called “It” (Peltzers first book). Dave also vowed that if her were to kill himself that he would only be surrendering to him mothers wishes and even though he tired to please his mother that is the one thing he would not let her have was his well deserved life.


The way Dave’s mother treated him is shocking. There was one way that Dave’s mother had complete control over him and that was what he could and couldn’t eat. Most of the time Dave was not permitted to eat. When Dave went to school he would steal other kids lunches so that he could eat food that was not spoiled. Dave did get in trouble for this sever times. After the third time Dave’s mother made him run home faster than all the other children and vomit in to the toilet to see if he had stolen.

Dave’s mother would some make him eat rotten pork and chicken one every 3 weeks that is the only food he would get and if Dave purged he would have another “Game and Test” to do for his mother. Dave had become so good at hiding what he had ate that he would vomit before he left school so that he could at least enjoy his home or at least what home he had. Dave at times would try to steal food that his brothers didn’t eat but if he was caught he would have to go in the tub of ice water or deal with the pneumonia and bleach combination in the bathroom with no ventilation. When Dave made is way out of his mother house into foster care. Dave would try to salvage food so that if by chance the foster family would not let him eat he would be able to have food. If Dave was caught with the food he had taken and his foster family went to talk to him he would go to the bathroom and vomit so that he would please them. I feel Dave Peltzer has been through an unimaginable childhood and adolescent life. I think the book is a heart felt story of a boys struggle for acceptance and aiming to please those around him. I feel if anyone can over come what Dave has over come that what he tells is accurate in the most scary way possible.

Scary in a sense that anyone could handle such hard ships and still be alive to tell about it. Dave was stabbed, poisoned, neglected, beaten, uprooted from him home at age 15, bounced from foster home to foster home without having a real place to call home. I think that this book addressed the real things that happen to a child of abuse. For there initial home life to the bounce from foster care home to home. The real issue in the book that child abuse is everywhere in every degree. Some are hidden ways such as verbal and some are so extreme that a child has no where to turn but to the abuse itself. This book more than anyone could imagine my anticipation’s and expectations were met 120%.

The book was very descriptive and helpful on how to deal with teens in crisis. I would recommend this book and Dave Peltzer’s other two books. The main reason is that the book describes Dave’s journey to find acceptance and a place to call home really touched my soul. The tears I cry for all the kids out there that need a voice to be heard. Mrs. Gold is God send She was Dave’s social worker she took the time to understand Dave’s story and be his voice for him. We need more people in the Human Services field like the one’s who have helped Dave in his journey. This book is a good book for people who work in any type of Human Service job such as a YMCA or a foster family just to show at what lengths kids will go to be safe and saved.

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