A Man Named Dave

A Man Named Dave

by Dave Pelzer


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452281905
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/05/2000
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 46,345
Product dimensions: 4.98(w) x 7.47(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dave Pelzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Child Called “It"The Lost Boy, A Man Named Dave, Help Yourself, and The Privilege of Youth. He travels more than 250 days a year throughout the nation speaking to large groups of youth and adults on the topics of resilience and overcoming obstacles. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, and The Montel Williams Show, among other national shows.


Rancho Mirage, California

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Daly City, California


High School equivalency certificate

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


MARCH 4, 1973

I'm scared. My feet are cold and my stomach cries for food. From the darkness of the garage I strain my ears to pick up the slightest sound of Mother's bed creaking as she rolls over in the bedroom upstairs. I can also tell by the range of Mother's hacking cough if she's still asleep or about to get up. I pray Mother doesn't cough herself awake. I pray I still have more time. Just a few more minutes before another day in hell begins. I close my eyes as tightly as I can and mumble a quick prayer, even though I know God hates me.

    Because I am not worthy enough to be a member of "The Family," I lie on top of an old, worn-out army cot without a blanket. I curl up into a tight ball to keep as warm as possible. I use the top of my shirt as a tent to cover my head, imagining my exhaled air will somehow keep my face and ears warm. I bury my hands either between my legs or into my armpits. Whenever I feel brave enough, and only after I'm certain that Mother has passed out, I steal a rag from the top of a dirty pile and wrap it tightly around my feet. I'll do anything to stay warm.

    To stay warm is to stay alive.

    I'm mentally and physically exhausted. It's been months since I've been able to escape through my dreams. As hard as I try, I cannot go back to sleep. I'm too cold. I cannot stop my knees from shaking. I cautiously rub my feet together because I somehow feel if I make any quick movements, "The Mother" will hear me. I am not allowed to doanything without The Mother's direct authority. Even though I know she has returned to sleep in the bottom bunk bed of my brother's bedroom, I sense that she still has control over me.

    The Mother always has.

    My mind begins to spin as I fight to remember my past. I know that to somehow survive, my answers are in my past. Besides food, heat, and staying alive, learning why Mother treats me the way she does dominates my life.

    My first memories of Mother were caution and fear. As a four-year-old child, I knew by the sound of Mother's voice what type of day was in store for me. Whenever Mother was patient and kind, she was my "Mommy." But whenever Mother became crossed and snapped at everything, "Mommy" transformed into "The Mother"—a cold, evil person capable of unexpected violent attacks. I soon became so scared of setting The Mother off, I didn't even go to the bathroom without first asking permission.

    As a small child, I also realized that the more she drank, the more my mommy slipped away, and the more The Mother's personality took over. One Sunday afternoon before I was five years old, during one of The Mother's drunken attacks, she accidentally pulled my arm out of its socket. The moment it happened, Mother's eyes became as big as silver dollars. Mother knew she had crossed the line. She knew she was out of control. This went far beyond her usual treatment of face slapping, body punching, or being thrown down the stairs.

    But even back then Mother developed a plan to cover her tracks. The next morning, after driving me to the hospital, she cried to the doctor that I had fallen out of my bunk bed during the night. Mother went on to say how she had desperately tried to catch me as I fell, and how she could never forgive herself for reacting so slowly. The doctor didn't even bat an eye. Back at home, Father, a fireman with medical training, didn't question Mother's strange tale.

    Afterward, as Mother cuddled me to her chest, I knew to never, ever expose the secret. Even then I somehow thought that things would return to the good times I had with Mommy. I truly believed that she would somehow wake up from her drunken slumber and banish The Mother forever. As a four-year-old child, rocking in Mother's arms, I thought the worst was over and that Mother would change.

    The only thing that had changed was the intensity of Mother's rage and the privacy of my secret relationship with her. By the time I was eight, my name was no longer allowed to be spoken. She had replaced "David" with "The Boy." Soon The Boy seemed too personal, so she decided to call me "It." Because I was no longer a member of "The Family," I was banished to live and sleep in the garage. When not sitting on top of my hands at the bottom of the staircase, my function was to perform slave-like chores. If I did not meet one of Mother's time requirements for my task, not only was I beaten, but I was not allowed to receive any food. More than once Mother refused to feed me for over a week. Of all of Mother's "games" of control, she enjoyed using food as her ultimate weapon.

    The more bizarre things The Mother did to me, the more she seemed to know she could get away with any of her Games. When she held my arm over a gas stove, she told horrified teachers that I had played with a match and burned myself. And when Mother stabbed me in the chest, she told my frightened brothers that I had attacked her.

    For years I did all that I could do to think ahead, to somehow outwit her. Before Mother hit me, I would tighten up parts of my body. If Mother didn't feed me, I would steal scraps of food anywhere I could. When she filled my mouth with pink dish washing soap, I'd hold the liquid in my mouth until I could spit it in the garage garbage can when she wasn't looking. Defeating The Mother in any way meant the world to me. Small victories kept me alive.

    My only form of escape had been my dreams. As I sat at the bottom of the staircase with my head tilted backward, I saw myself flying through the air like my hero, Superman. Like Superman, I believed I had two identities. My Clark Kent personality was the child called "It"—an outcast who ate out of garbage cans, was ridiculed, and did not fit in. At times as I lay sprawled out on the kitchen floor unable to crawl away, I knew I was Superman. I knew I had an inner strength, a secret identity that no one else realized. I came to believe if Mother shot me, the bullets would bounce off my chest. No matter what "Game" Mother invented, no matter how badly she attacked me, I was going to win; I was going to live. At times when I couldn't block out the pain or the loneliness, all I had to do was close my eyes and fly away.

    Just weeks after my twelfth birthday, Mother and Father separated. Superman disappeared. All my inner strength shriveled up. That day I knew Mother was going to kill me—if not that Saturday, then someday soon. With Father out of the way, nothing could stop The Mother. Even though for years Father had at times watched in dismay while he sipped his evening drink when Mother had me swallow tablespoons of ammonia or shrug his shoulders while she'd beat me senseless, I had always felt safer whenever he was in the house. But after Mother dropped off Father's meager belongings and drove away, I clasped my hands together as tightly as I could and whispered, "... and may He deliver me from evil. Amen."

    That was almost two months ago, and God never answered my prayers. Now, as I continue to shiver in the darkness of the garage, I know the end is near. I cry for not having the courage or the strength to fight back. I'm too tired. The eight years of constant torture have sucked my life force out of me. I clasp my hands together and pray that when The Mother kills me, she will have mercy to kill me quickly.

    I begin to feel light-headed. The harder I pray, the more I feel myself drift off to sleep. My knees stop quivering. My fingers loosen from digging into my bony knuckles. Before I pass out, I say to myself, "God ... if you can hear me, can you somehow take me away? Please take me. Take me today."

My upper body snaps upright. I can hear the floorboards strain upstairs from Mother's weight. Her gagging cough follows a moment later. I can almost visualize her bent over as she nearly coughs up her lungs from the years of heavy smoking and her destructive lifestyle. God, how I hate her cough.

    The darkness of my sleep quickly fades away. A chill fills my body. I so badly want to remain asleep, forever. The more I wake from my slumber, the more I curse God for not taking me in my sleep. He never answers my prayers. I so badly wish I were dead. I don't have the energy to live another day in "The House." I can't imagine another day with The Mother and her sinister games. I break down and cry. A waterfall of tears runs down my face. I used to be so strong. I just can't take it anymore.

    Mother's stumbling brings me back to my dismal reality. I wipe my runny nose and my tears away. I must never, ever expose a sign of weakness. I take a deep breath and gaze upward. I lock my hands together before retreating inside my shell that will protect me for another day. Why? I sigh. If you are God, what is your reason? I just ... I so badly want to know, Why? Why am I still alive?

    Mother staggers out of her bedroom. Move! my brain screams. Move it! I only have a few seconds before ... I was supposed to be up an hour ago to begin my chores.

    I stand up and fumble through the darkness, trying to find the light switch to the garage. I trip over one of the legs to the army cot. By reflex, I reach out to the floor to soften the impact, but I'm too slow. A moment later the side of my face smashes against the cold cement. Bright silver dots fill my view. I smack the palms of my hands on the floor. I so badly want to pass out. I never want to regain consciousness ever again.

    I push myself up off the cement as I hear Mother's footsteps leading to the bathroom. After flicking on the light switch, I snatch the broom before racing up the staircase. If I can finish sweeping the stairs before Mother catches me, she will never know I'm behind. I can win. I smile as I tell myself, Come on, man, go! Move it! I seem so out of breath. My mind races at supersonic speed, but my body responds in slow motion. My feet feel like blocks of cement. The tips of my fingers are so cold. I don't understand why I'm so slow. I used to be lightning fast.

    Without thinking I reach my left hand out to the wooden rail that I use to pull myself up the stairs. I'm going to win, I say to myself, I'm actually going to make it! I can hear the gurgling sound of the toilet flushing from above. I quicken my pace. I extend my arm toward the rail. I smile inside. I'm going to beat her. A split second later my heart skips a beat as my hand misses the rail and grabs air. My body begins to wobble. The rail! Grab the stupid rail! As hard as I fight to concentrate, my fingers refuse to obey.

    My world turns black.

A blinding glare pierces my eyes. My head seems as if it is stuck in a fog. I can make out a figure standing above me in front of a bright white light. "... aht ime is it?"

    I try to shake my head clear. For a moment I thought I was staring at an angel sent to take me to heaven.

    But Mother's sickening cough soon erases my fantasy. "I said, 'What time is it?'" The sound of her voice nearly makes me pee my pants. Mother uses a soft, evil tone so not to wake up her precious babies. "Let's see how fast ... you can move that sorry little behind of yours up here ... now!" Mother demands with a snap of her fingers. My body shudders as I place the broom against the base of the stairs.

    "Oh, no!" Mother beams. "Bring your friend with you." I'm not sure what she means. I spin around, then look back up at Mother. "The broom, you moron. Bring it with you."

    With every step I take, my mind begins to plot a defense for whatever Game Mother has in store for the crime of not completing my chore on time. I warn myself to stay focused. I know she plans on using the broom as a weapon, either against my chest or face. Sometimes when we're alone, Mother likes to smash the end of the broom directly behind my knees. If she has me follow her into the kitchen, I'm dead. I won't be able to walk to school, let alone run. But if Mother keeps me on the stairs, I know she'll only hit me in my upper body.

    Upon reaching the top of the stairs, I automatically assume "the position of address": my body stands perfectly straight, with my head bent down and my hands glued to my sides. I am not allowed to move a muscle, blink, look at her or even breathe without Mother's direct permission.

    "Tell me, tell me I'm stupid," Mother whispers as she leans over. I cringe as I imagine her taking a bite from my ear. It's part of the Game. She's testing me to see if I'll flinch. I dare not look up or back away. My heels hang over the edge of the stair. I pray Mother doesn't push me ... today.

    "Go ahead, tell me. Please," Mother begs. The tone of her voice changes. Mother's voice seems calm, nonthreatening. My mind spins. I don't understand. Did Mother just give me permission to speak? I have no idea what she expects of me. Either way, I'm trapped. I focus my energy on the front of my shoes. The more I stare, the more my body begins to sway.

    Without warning Mother thrusts a finger under my chin, lifting my face to hers. Her rancid breath makes my stomach coil. I fight not to pass out from her stench. Even though she does not allow me to wear my glasses at home, I glance at Mother's puffy, reddened face. Her once gleaming hair is now oily and matted against the sides of her face. "Just how stupid do you think I am? Tell me, exactly: How stupid am I?"

    I sheepishly look up and reply, "Ma'am?"

    A raging fire stings the side of my face. "Just who in the hell gave you permission to speak, let alone look!" Mother hisses.

    I snap my head back down as I quickly bury the pain inside. My God, I say to myself, I didn't see it coming. What's happening to me? I'm always able to see her arm swing back before she strikes me. I cannot figure out why I am so slow. Dammit, David, stay focused! Think!

    "When is It going to begin Its chores?" Mother bellows. "What is it with you? I bet you think I'm stupid! You think you can get away with whatever you damn well please! Don't you?" Mother shakes her head. "I'm not the one hurting you. You are. You choose your actions. You know who—what—you are and what your purpose is in this household.

    "If It wants to be fed, then it's simple: It does exactly as It's told. If It doesn't want to be punished, then It stays out of trouble. It knows the rules. I don't treat you any different from anybody else. It simply refuses to obey." Mother stops to take a deep breath. Her chest begins to wheeze. It's time for her fix. I know what's coming next. I wish she'd go ahead and hit me. "And what about me?" Her voice rises. "I should be asleep, but no, I have to be here with It. You pathetic piece of filth! You little bastard! You know your function. You're not a person, but ... a thing to do with as I please. Do you understand? Am I making myself clear, or perhaps It needs another lesson?" Mother thunders.

    Mother's words echo inside my soul. For years I've heard the same thing over and over again. For years I've been her human robot to do with as she pleases, like some toy that she can turn on and off whenever she wishes.

    I break down inside. My body begins to shake. I can't take it anymore. Go ahead, I say to myself. Do it! Just kill me! Come on! Suddenly, my vision sharpens. My insides stop shaking. Rage slowly begins to fill me. I no longer feel ice cold. I shift my head from side to side as my eyes creep up Mother's robed body. The fingers to my right hand tighten around the wooden broom handle. As I slowly let out a deep breath, my eyes stare directly into Mother's. "Leave me alone ... you bitch!" I hiss.

    Mother becomes paralyzed. I focus every fiber of my being on piercing through her silver-framed glasses and reddened eyes. I will myself to somehow transfer every moment I had to carry for the last eight years of pain and loneliness into Mother.

    Mother's face turns ash white. She knows. Mother knows exactly what I'm feeling. It's working, I tell myself. Mother tries to break away from my stare. She moves her head slightly to the left. I match Mother's movement. She can't escape. Mother looks down and away. I tilt my head up and sharpen my stare. I smile. From the bottom of my soul I feel so warm. Now I'm the one in control.

    From the back of my mind I hear a chuckle. For a moment I think it's me laughing at Mother. I lower my eyes and see Mother's crocodile smile. Her putrid breath breaks my concentration. The more Mother smiles, the more my body becomes tense. She tilts her head toward the light. Now, I tell myself, now I can see it coming. Go ahead, give it to me! Come on, do it! Show me what you got! I see the blur a split second before I feel her hand collide against my face. A moment later, warm blood seeps from my nose. I let it drip on the black-matted stairs. I refuse to give Mother the pleasure of watching me cry or reacting in any way whatsoever. I defy her by remaining numb inside and out.

    "Showing a little guts, are you? Well, you're a few years too late!" Mother sneers. "You don't have what it takes. You never have and you never will. You're such a pathetic little worm. I can kill you anytime I please. Just like that," Mother says with a snap of her fingers. "You are only alive because it pleases me. You are nothing more than ..."

    I block out Mother's words as a cold fear creeps back inside my soul. I bow my head, resuming the position of address. Dark red blood spatters the toes of my shoes. For a fleeting moment I felt so alive.

    She's in control now.

    The more that Mother babbles, the more I nod my head, acknowledging Mother is indeed almighty and God-like for allowing me to live another day in her household. "You don't know how lucky you are. When I was your age, you wouldn't believe what I was put through...."

    I let out a deep sigh and close my eyes in a vain attempt to block out the sound of her voice. How I wish she would pass out and drop dead. In my mind I fantasize Mother sprawled on the hallway floor. I would give anything to be there as she quivered helplessly on her back before taking her last breath.

    Mother's voice changes in pitch. Suddenly my throat feels as if it is on fire as Mother tightens her grip around my neck. My eyes want to pop out of my head. I did not focus on Mother's attack before it came. By reflex I wrap my hands around Mother's fingers. As much as I try, I cannot pry her hands off. The more I struggle, the more Mother tightens her death grip. I try to scream, but only a gurgling sound leaks out. My head slumps forward. As my eyes roll backward, I concentrate on Mother's face. Do it! I shout to myself. Come on, do it! You're so bad, you're so tough, come on! Show me, show me what you got! Kill me, you bitch!

    Mother's cheeks twitch from her intense hatred. Her nostrils flare from her rapid breathing. I want Mother to kill me. I begin to feel myself drift away. My hearing seems as if I am in the middle of a long tunnel. My arms fall to my side. For the first time in years, my body relaxes. I'm no longer cold inside. I'm no longer frightened. I'm ready to ...

    A hard slap makes my head shake from side to side. "Oh no, wake up! Wake up, you miserable piece of trash! I'm not through with you yet! I know exactly what you want!" Mother hisses. "So, you think you're so smart? How about ... instead of sending you to your Uncle Dan's this weekend, maybe I should have the boys go instead, so you and I can spend some private time together? Bet you didn't think of that one, did you?"

    I know by the sound of her voice that I am supposed to respond, but I can't.

    "Oh, what's the matter? Does the little insect have a sore throat? Oh well, that's just too bad!" Mother smiles. I can see her lips moving, but I can barely make out what she's saying. After another quick squeeze, Mother lets go of her hold. Without permission, I rub my neck, gasping for air. Somehow I know she's not done with me—not yet. A second later I nearly lose my balance as Mother snatches the broom from beside me. I automatically tighten my upper body. "This," she says, "this is for cheating on your chores. I've told you a hundred times that you are to get that miserable butt of yours up and working before I get up. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"

    I hesitate, not knowing how or if I should respond.

    "I said, is that clear?"

    "Yes ... ah, yes, ma'am," I stutter in a hoarse voice.

    "Tell me, what is your name?" Mother asks as she tilts her head upward in a show of supremacy.

    "'It,'" I answer in a sheepish tone.

    "And what is 'Its' function?"

    "Ta ... ta ... ta do ... do as you command and stay outta ... outta trouble."

    "And when I say, 'Jump'?"

    "I ask, 'How high?'" I reply without thought.

    "Not bad. Not bad at all!" Mother leers. "But I do think It requires another lesson. Perhaps this will teach you ... teach It...."

    I can hear a swishing sound. I brace my arms for the impact. My upper body is rock solid, but I have no way of telling which direction the sound is coming from. A jolting thud strikes the side of my neck. My knees buckle as I turn inside the doorway and lean against Mother's body. Without thinking I reach out to Mother. Her eyes shine with pleasure. She slaps my hands away. As my feet slip, my head jerks backward. I can feel my throat collapse the same way it did when Mother had me swallow teaspoons full of ammonia. I fight to swallow a breath of air, but my brain is too slow to respond. My eyes lock on to Mother's. "So, do you still think you can fly?"

    I glance down and see Mother's hand in motion. A moment later I can feel myself floating, my arms flung above my face. Suddenly, a rush of air fills my chest as the back of my head smashes against the staircase. I reach out, but I can't stop my body from bouncing backward down the stairs. At the bottom of the staircase, my chest heaves; I want to find a bucket and throw up. At the door above me, Mother bends over with laughter. "Look at you! You're a hoot!"

    Her face becomes taut. In an ice-cold voice Mother says, "You're not even worth the effort." With a jerk of her hand she flings the broom at me, then slams the door shut. My only form of protection is to close my eyes. I don't even bother to turn away or cover my face. I can hear the broom topple down the stairs before missing me completely.

    Alone in the garage I let go and cry like a baby. I don't care if Mother, or anyone else in the world, can hear me. I have no dignity, no self-worth. Rage slowly builds inside my soul. I clench my hands together and begin taking my frustration out on the floor. Why, why, why? What in the hell did I ever do to you to make you hate me so much?

    With every blow I can feel my strength drain away. The whitish-yellow garage light begins to fade as I lose consciousness. Without thinking of Mother catching me, I lie on my side, pull my shirt over my face, bury my hands between my legs, and close my eyes. Before I pass out, I clasp my hands together and mutter, "Take me."

"Wake up! Wake up, I tell you!" My eyes flicker open. I'm trapped in a mental haze as I stand in front of Mother in the kitchen. I have no idea how I got here. And somehow I know it's almost time for me to run to school. My mind struggles to recall why I keep losing track of time.

    "I said, wake up!" Mother barks. She leans over and slaps my face. I'm fascinated that I can no longer feel the pain. "What in the hell is wrong with you?" she asks with some concern.

    Forgetting who I am, I rub my face and reply, "I dunno." Immediately I know I've just committed a double crime of moving and speaking without Mother's permission. Before I can stop myself, I commit another offense by looking right at her and shaking my head. "I don't understand ... what's happening to me?"

    "You're fine," Mother states. I lean forward to catch what she said. I'm not sure, but I think Mother just spoke to me in a soft tone. "Listen. Listen up. Tell 'em ... uhm, tell them that you were ..." I strain to pay attention to Mother's instructions, but her words seem mumbled and confusing. Mother snaps her fingers, indicating a breakthrough for her latest cover story. "If those nosy teachers ask, you tell them that you were wrestling and you got out of control ... so your brothers had to put you in your place. Do you understand?"

    I'm trying to digest Mother's new set of instructions.

    "Do you understand?" Mother probes, fighting to keep her anger under control.

    "Ah, yes," I chuckle. I cannot believe how easily Mother can come up with her off-the-wall lies every single day of school. I'm also amazed that I no longer care about masking my emotions in front of her. "Tell 'em I was wrong. I was bad."

    "And ...?" Mother whines, trying to draw me out further.

    "Tell them ... I was ... I was playing, I mean wrestling! I was wrestling and ... I got out of control. Yes, I understand," I stammer.

    Mother tilts her head to one side as she inspects her latest damage. She holds her gaze for a few moments before losing her balance, stumbling toward me. In a jerking motion I flinch backward. "Shh ... no, it's okay. Relax," Mother calmly says with an outstretched hand as she keeps her distance, acting as if I were a stray dog. "No one's going to hurt you. Shh ..." Mother circles around me before backing into her kitchen chair. Bending her head down, she stares into space.

    My head begins to slump forward when Mother's hacking cough makes me snap upright. "It wasn't always like this, you know," she whimpers in a scratchy voice. "If you knew ... if you only understood. I wish I could somehow make you, make them understand...." Mother stops in mid-sentence to collect herself. I can feel her eyes scan my body. "Things just got outta control, that's all. I never meant to ... to live like this. No one does. I tried, God knows I did—to be the good wife, the perfect mother. I did everything: den mother this, PTA that, hosting the perfect parties. I really did try.

    "You, you're the only one who knows, who really knows. You're the only one I can really talk to," Mother whispers. "I can't trust them. But you, you're the perfect outlet, the perfect audience, anytime it damn well pleases me. You don't talk, so no one will hear your pain. You don't have any friends, and you never go outside, so you know what it's like to be all alone inside. Hell, besides school, no one knows you. It's as if you were never ...

    "No. You'll never tell anyone ... never!" Mother brags as she nods her head up and down to reinforce her warning.

    Without stealing a glance, I can hear Mother sniffle as she struggles not to let down her guard. I realize she's only using me to talk to herself. She always has. When I was younger, Mother would drag me out of bed in the middle of the night, have me stand in front of her as she poured herself glass after glass and raved on for hours. But now as I stand in front of her, I'm too numb to understand her ramblings. What in the hell does she want? Can she be totally smashed so early in the morning, or is she still under the effects from last night's stupor? Maybe she's testing my reaction? I hate not knowing what Mother expects of me.

    "You," she continues, "oh, you were so cute! At parties everyone loved you! Everyone wanted to take you home. Always polite, always with manners. Wouldn't speak unless spoken to. Oh, I remember whenever you couldn't sleep, you'd crawl up into my lap and sing me Christmas songs, even in the middle of July. Whenever I felt bad I could always count on you to 'croon a tune.'" Mother smiles as she remembers the past. She can no longer control the tears that stream down her cheeks. I've never seen her like this before. "You had the sweetest voice, David. Why is it you don't sing for me anymore? How come?" Mother stares at me as if I were a ghost.

    "I don't ... I dunno." My grogginess vanishes. I realize this is not one of Mother's sinister Games. I know, deep inside Mother, that something is different. She's reaching out. Mother's never been this emotional about her past. I wish I had a clear head to analyze what she's trying to tell me. I know it's not the booze talking, but my real mother, the one who's been trapped inside herself for so many years. "Mommy?"

    Mother's head jerks up as she covers her mouth. "Mommy? Oh Lord, David, do you know how long it's been since I've been someone's Mommy? My God!" She closes her eyes to hide her pain. "You were so fragile, so timid. You don't remember, but you were always the slow one. It took you forever to tie your shoes. I thought I'd go crazy trying to teach you that damn square knot for your Cub Scouts badge. But you never gave up. I'd find you in a corner of the room trying to tie knots. No, that's one thing about you, you never gave up. Hey," Mother asks with a wide smile, "do you remember that summer when you were seven or eight years old, and you and I spent forever trying to catch that fish at Memorial Park?"

    With perfect clarity I recall how Mommy and I sat at the far edge of a giant fallen log that hung over a small stream. I couldn't believe she had chosen me—over my younger brother Stan, who constantly fought for Mother's attention. As Stan threw a temper tantrum on the beach below us, I thought Mother would realize her mistake. But Mommy had paid no attention to Stan's commotion; she simply tightened her grip on my belt, in case I slipped, and whispered encouragement into my ear. After a few minutes of fishing, I deliberately kept the pink salmon egg bait just above the water. I never wanted my adventure with my mommy to end. Now, as I shake my head clear of the memory, my voice becomes choked up. "I, ah, I prayed we'd never catch that fish," I confessed to her.

    "Why's that?"

    "So ... we could spend more time together ... as mother and son."

    "Oh, your brother Stan was red with jealousy, stomping up and down beside the creek, throwing rocks into the water, trying to scare off that fish of yours. My God." Mother tosses her hair back, revealing a rare smile.

    I'm not sure if she failed to hear or understand the true meaning of what I said.

    "David?" Mother pleads. "You do remember, don't you?"

    "Yes," I cry, shaking my head, "I do. I remember everything. Like the first day of school when the teacher had us color a picture of what we did that summer. I drew you and me sitting on that old tree with a happy-face sun shining above us. Remember, I gave it to you that day after school?"

    Mother turns away from me. She clutches her coffee mug, then puts a finger to her lips. The excitement from her face drains away. "No!" Mother states in a strict tone, as if our fishing adventure were a hoax.

    "Oh, sure you do—"

    "I said no, goddammit!" Mother interrupts. She clamps her eyes shut and covers her ears. "No, no, no! I don't remember. You can't make me! No one can force me to remember the past if I don't want to. Not you or anybody else. No one tells me what to do! You got that, mister?"

    "Yes, ma'am," I automatically respond.

    Mother's face turns beet red as the muscles in her neck tighten. Her upper body begins to shake. I'm not sure, but I think Mother is having a violent seizure. I want to yell out, but I'm too scared. I stand in front of Mother like a helpless fool. I don't know what to do.

    After a few seconds the redness from her face disappears. She lets out a deep sigh. "I just don't know anymore ... if I'm coming or going. I don't know ... I didn't mean for things to happen this way; no one did. You can't blame me, I did my best ..."

    The sweetness in her voice fades. I want so badly to run and hug Mommy before she completely slips away, but, like always, I know in a few hours Mother won't remember a single word of our conversation. I back away from the kitchen table and resume the position of address.

    "Oh, Jesus!" Mother snaps. "Now look what you've done! I've got to drive my boys to school! Forget the dishes; you can finish them after school. And listen up: I don't want to hear a peep from any of those nosy teachers today, so you keep that carcass of yours the hell out of trouble! You got me, mister?" Mother raises her voice to her usual evil tone.

    "Yes, ma'am," I mutter.

    "Then get the hell out of my house! Run!" Mother bellows.

    "What about lunch ... ?" I ask.

    "Too bad. You took my time, then I take your lousy sandwich. You'll just have to go diggin' for food today. Now get the hell out of here! Don't make me get the broom! Now run!"

    In a flash I race through Mother's house. I can hear her evil laugh as I slam the front door shut before sprinting off to school.


Table of Contents

A Man Named DaveAcknowledgements

Author's Notes

1. The End

2. Fly Away

3. Letter From Home

4. Wishful Thinking

5. Slip Away

6. Regroup

7. Foolish Crusade

8. Changes

9. Heaven Sent

10. The Source

11. A Personal Matter

12. The Long Matter

13. The Long Farewell

14. The Last Dance

15. Farewell

16. All Good Things






About the Author


What People are Saying About This

Richard Paul Evans

In this powerful book Pelzer demonstrates, as few have, that it is in the darkest skies that the stars are best seen.
Richard Paul Evans, bestselling author of The Christmas Box

Jack Canfield

Pelzer...inspires us all. He is a living example that all of us have the capability to better ourselves no matter what the odds.
Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul

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Man Named Dave 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 272 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a story which will deeply affect you. It's a reminder that there are children in our own neighborhoods who may be in desperate need. It's also a call that no matter how you've suffered, you can still take responsibility for your life and turn suffering into compassion. Dave Pelzer is a true hero and his story is well worth reading and taking to heart. I would choose to spend a day with David Pelzer, for his wisdom, courage, humanity and ability to forgive. In this third book of David's trilogy, the adult years, he shows us the true meaning of forgiveness. He is living proof that until one can honestly look into their heart and forgive the abuser, one cannot truly begin to heal. With that healing process, comes peace of mind, self-worth and the realization that the world can become as beautiful and fulfilling as you choose to make it. This book is about the compassion and forgiveness the author finds in the face of horrible abuse. In the first two book we all felt the author's natural reactions to his abuse. Now in the third book the author gives us the solution. Not the solution to abuse but the solution for all victims of abuse - compassion and forgiveness.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the 3rd in a series. It was nice to know what happened to Dave, but it did not hold my interest like the previous books. If you read the first book (A child called "it"), and it grabs your attention, you probably will want to continue on to "The Lost Boy" and finally onto this book, but I would not recommend this book as a "stand alone"read.
puchiAR More than 1 year ago
love the two other books , it makes you feel bless on what you have , can't wait to read the third one . These books make you wonder why does GOD give children to this monsters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have not read this book yet I read the other two, I am not very big on reading and being in the army doesn't give me much time to read but i made time to read these books and they are heartbreaking, i wanted to just reach thru the book and snach him out of that horrible live, i would recomend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Considering that I had not read the prequels to this book, I was really surprised how quickly I was able to understand what had happened to this character. This story, I'm sure for anyone who reads it, is a big eye opener as to how many kids could be neglected and abused on a regular basis and many people don’t even notice. The story starts out with Dave as a young child and many different instances as to when his “Mother” was abusing him. Many people in the story, including his teachers, knew something wasn’t right when he would fall asleep in class and have bruises everywhere. Anytime the marks his mother gave him were visible she would come up with stories like, him and his other brothers were wrestling and happened to get hurt. As the story goes on Dave gets put up for adoption and never sees his mother again till about 12 years later. In a Man Named Dave, he is all grown up and has a wife named Patsy and a son. He is able to get psychiatric help and finally be a free person who can really live his life without any disturbances. There are many things I really liked about this book and one of the main ones would be the beginning of the book. He involves the reader to the point of feeling like you were living this nightmare with Dave in the basement. One of the things I wasn’t so fond of in this book was how the relationship with Patsy just kept dragging on for chapters and chapters and how there relationship was always on the rocks. I would definitely recommend this reading to anyone. I didn’t realize how many kids do get abused and how hidden it can be from the outside world. Once you start reading this book it's hard to put it down. I am a wiser person because of this story and hopefully someone who could identify abuse if I ever saw it in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dave Pelzer's books are excellent to read and understand. This type of abuse happens more times than anyone wants to believe. I spoke with a victim of child sexual abuse and she said one of the reasons she didn't tell is because what he did to her was so horrific that she didn't think anyone would believe her! And she was probably right - she is an adult now. I applaud Mr. Pelzer for having the courage that it must've taken to write and publish these books, and I thank him for helping me to learn and understand child abuse a bit better. If we can all start to talk about it more openly with our children and create an enviornment in which they feel safe (I don't think children who are being abused ever feel totally safe) to bring up such topics, maybe some will tell. We have to keep learning and we have to pull our heads out ot the sand and acknowledge what happens to our children, otherwise we can't help them. I just read a book called "Daddy's Hands," by Rita Makela. This story is about a little girl who is getting sexually abused. It is well written and it takes you into the mind of a little girl who is living through that type of trauma. It is so hard to comprehend how someone could do such things to children, but they do. Be warned, though, "Daddy's Hands" is very realistic, blunt, raw, and has several explicitly sexual scenes in them. They are disturbing to read, but so helpful to understanding.
Edie Jansen More than 1 year ago
All of daves books are hart breaking but once u start u cant stop if dave reads this i feel so bad for you but just look at what u have acomplished i absolutly love your books
Carol Jones More than 1 year ago
im only 14 but i fell in love with this book! so good!
morgnlovesyou More than 1 year ago
well dave is grown up and gone to the air force to live the dream he wanted but one tragic day a phone call from his foster mom crying saying thatthe one and only parent he loved was dieing in the hospital so he rushes home to go see his father after their loving kinda talking screaming and crying he goes to his mother and trys to talk her into going to the hospital to see dad but it gets him nowere but in his car going to the hospital alone see what happends next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book that highlights Dave's compassion even after his tortuous childhood. There's a strong lesson to be learned and Dave does it in his quiet and caring way. This book made me smile but it also made me cry. It gives a person a lot of perspective and I think back to parts of it even though it's been a month since I read his story. For anyone who feels bound by their anger, guilt, hurt or pain, I also recommend "When God Stopped Keeping Score." I thought that "When God Stopped Keeping Score" was just about overcoming forgiveness, I soon learned, it was about so much more than that. The author actually pulls back the curtain to his own life, to offer an intimate look at the true power of forgiveness and reveals the emotional price that you must be willing to pay to live without it. All of this, while still offering up interesting and often tear worthy stories that showed you just how you should deal with friends, family and more importantly, yourself when things do go wrong. The author more importantly reveals the key to keeping these relationships strong even in the face of adversity. Having read it, I feel like a better person. Maybe that's because this book spoke to me and not down to me. I have read a lot of books that was written like I didn't know anything. What the author of "When God Stopped Keeping Score" does is talk to you like a friend. I needed that. You will understand why when you read it for yourself. It is on sale here on BN.com.
hhcardona on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The titile of the Book is A man named Dave. The book is an autobiography by Dave Pelzer. It has a total of 339 pages. The setting at the beggining of the story is at Daly City, California, March 4 1973. The Action takes place in 1975 when he' an adult. The main Character is Dave andnhis dad and they are believable. I liked more the Dave because he was a very strong boy. I can't relate to any of the characters because I dont think i have such a bad luck. The conflict of the story is that he doesn't want to be like his father. the resalution of the story is that he accomplishes his goals and he forgives his mother. I love the ending it was perfect! I liked the book a lot because it was a very sad autobiography. I learned that we are all very very lucky to have parents that love us. Everyone should read it, it's very sad at the beggining though.
jrodriguez on LibraryThing 3 months ago
A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer is a biography about Dave as he writes about how he got abused as a child by his alcoholic mother. His parents got divorced and dave was left alone with his mother. The main characters are Dave and his mother. Dave lived almost his entire childhood being abused. Then he got placed into a foster home for about six years, and got foster parents. Dave then decided to join the United States Air Force. Then he found out his father had cancer and died. He went to visit his mom, but saw she was still the same. He returned to the air force, and later on he met Patsy. She became his wife and they had a baby boy named stephen. They both wanted to do right for their baby since they both had a bad childhood. The years passed and later Dave's mother died of a heart attack in her sleep. Dave and his family are living a fantastic life.
Olivia-Covarrubias More than 1 year ago
The story begins with the introduction of the characters. The main character is Dave Pelzer and he is described as strong and courageous. He believes that “...I’m going to make something of myself’ (97) Another important character is Catherine Pelzer who is more commonly known as “The Mother”. The Mother is the woman who destroyed Dave’s childhood with her horrible abuse. Dave was able to get out of the house and was adopted by a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Henry and Alice Turnbough. At 18, he joined the air force and got assigned as a food service specialist which was far from what he wanted to do, which was to become a fireman after his father. His father died of cancer and left Dave his fireman badge which Dave keeps close to him. Dave ends up marrying and having a child with a woman named Patsy who often took advantage of Dave although she really did love him. His son, Steven , has been Daves driving force to go around to foster homes of abused children and encouraging them to not give up. The mother often haunted him in his dreams but he ended up on good terms with her before she died. I enjoyed this book because it’s very encouraging and it shows me that people are able to go through traumatising things and still are able to make a meaning for their lives. Also, it’s interesting to see the live of someone who’s been abused because many people don’t have to live through that. In addition, this story is just very entertaining and never ceased to amaze me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MyndiL More than 1 year ago
This book was as touching as all the rest. I especially liked the part about his wife, Marsha, I got butterflies. This man is an inspiration and I'm so glad that he was brave enough to tell his story, the whole story to the world. As a victim of child abuse, it's encouraging to see a story of someone who made it good, and stopped the cycle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dragoneyes More than 1 year ago
Heartwrenching in the extent of abuse, deplorable situations his "mother" puts him thru, but he is a fighter and very courageous.  Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it
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Need to know more...
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the first two books and i cant wait to read this one but the child called it the first one is the sadest book i ever read i think i threw my nook a couple of times because the mother made me so mad