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A Brother's Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse Paperback – May 12, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (May 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446696331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446696333
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this gripping, deeply troubling memoir, a follow-up to his brother David's bestselling A Child Called It, Pelzer reveals the unyielding suffering he says he experienced at the hands of his depraved mother growing up in the 1970s. Once David, the elder of the two, was removed from the household, the author, by this account, became the target of their mother's alcohol-induced rage. As Pelzer details his outward struggle to survive—learning to fall asleep with his eyes open, for example—and his internal efforts to understand and rise above his circumstances, he assaults readers with the graphic facts, told in surprisingly matter-of-fact language, about being beaten bloody for falling asleep when he was supposed to be awake, and being forbidden to bathe and forced to eat scraps from a dog bowl. Family members (including Pelzer's father), neighbors and teachers were aware of the abuse but did nothing to help, and Pelzer credits outsiders, especially his friend Ben, with finally "allowing" him to see himself more clearly. By looking back at—and then releasing—the image of the skinny, red-haired boy who wanted nothing more than his mother's love, Pelzer discovers his true spirit, which he shares courageously and selflessly here in the hope of healing himself, as well as raising awareness of and preventing child abuse.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Is Pelzer piggybacking on the success of his older brother Dave's story of being abused, A Child Called It (1995)? Maybe, but Richard certainly has his own tragic tale. Most of his grim recollections are from the time after Dave was removed from the household by social services, leaving Richard, then 8, as the focus for their alcoholic mother's rage. He remained so until, at age 15, he took his first tentative steps toward breaking his mother's psychological hold. Pelzer spares no detail here, and though he certainly takes his mother to task, he writes with an amazing lack of bitterness toward his other brothers, who sometimes participated in his anguish, and toward the social services agency that left him traumatized and alone. As devastating as his story is, it's little more than a catalog of abuse, and the disappointing ending leaves readers in the dark about how he actually turned his life around. But the fact that he did manage to do that, despite the odds, makes his story worth reading, especially by those who know his brother's book. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A very sad story.
Vince
If you want to better understand what you learned from A Child Called "It", I strongly recommend that you read this book.
Donald Mitchell
If you've read Dave Pelzer's books, this one by Richard Pelzer will add dimension to the story.
Lori

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A Child Called "It" moved the world to appreciate the extent that child abuse can take . . . and the need to do more to stop it. Over 2 million copies of that vivid memoir have been sold. In that story, Dave Pelzer described the role his brothers were forced to play in his abuse. Younger brother Richard was a particular problem as he would tell lies about Dave that led to more beatings by their mother. But Richard would also leave food for the starving Dave.

In A Brother's Journey, Richard tells his perspective both on what happened to Dave, his guilt for his role, and how the family functioned after Dave was taken away to a foster home.

In limited ways, Richard was selected by their mother to replace Dave as the butt of her alcoholic rages. Although his abuse was horrific, it failed to be as bad as Dave's. Thank God for that.

But the interesting part of this book is the insight it provides for psychologists, social workers and the families of abused children concerning the impact of abuse on the more favored children in the family. Most books about child abuse don't get into this aspect of family life, and I found the added perspectives to be very revealing and interesting.

Naturally, no one can read this book (or A Child Called "It") without wondering how a grandmother, a father, neighbors or the school could have permitted this to go on so long.

The lesson seems to be that if you suspect even the possibility of abuse, you'd better do something. What you see is probably less than 1% of the problem.

Professionals can learn from this book the importance of on-going observation and the need to build trust in those who are suspected of being abused.
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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Lori on May 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm really surprised by some of the reviews, specifically, people who think that only one person per family is entitled to tell their story.

There is a strong blame-the-victim thing in a few of the reviews, even so far as claiming that somehow a five year old boy can be the one orchestrating this family disaster.

Given the context of the family situation, I'm surprised that anyone wants to scapegoat Richard. I think the anger displayed here is out of place.

If you've read Dave Pelzer's books, this one by Richard Pelzer will add dimension to the story. It's a compelling and decent book. It's major flaw is that the story ends abruptly with Richard deciding that he is strong enough to change the situation. So it's a letdown that we never find out what he did to move forward. All the same, I read it easily in an evening, and was glad I did.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Bell on April 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It's about time one of David's brother stepped up to the plate and admitted the abuse occured and this book is a shining achievement. I am disgusted with anyone who could read this book and then deny the truth it expresses.
From my own personal experience of an abusive mother the pattern that both Dave and Richard describe and their responses to it are psychologically accurate.
When my father lived with us a lot of the abuse was directed at him , when he left it was all focused on me and my sister was the child who could do know wrong and she (my sister) loved to join in tormenting me. Then when I left, my sister became my replacement and suffered abuse. This is exactly the pattern that Dave and Richard describe. Richard has written a book that is very compelling. Unlike David he actually touches (all to briefly) on what was going on in his mother's head and possible motivations for her behaviour.
He suffered unbelivably horrific abuse and yet it was less than David's and this makes the book somewhat less painful than reading a child called IT because he manages to squeeze in a rare moment of pleasure here and there which David as "IT" never had a chance to do.
But it is still horrific. I think Richard is a fine writer and his bravery in admitting the abuse he inflicted on his brother at the ages of 5,6, and 7 in order to get his mother to notice him is so commedable. I doubt David blames a 5 year old for what happened. How could a 5, 6 or 7 year old possibly be expected to stand up to a mother like that. The only time Richard had praise or attention was when he collaborated in his elder brother's abuse.
The really disgusting brother was Scott who was still abusing Richard at 17.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Paula on January 3, 2006
Format: Audio Cassette
This review is in response to Pony's review entitled "Save The Tissue's Get Out The Spotlight". I am curious...Did Pony read the book? I did not read anything in Pony's review that was related to the book, his review merely contained a critique of the author's character. Also, in his review Pony points out that Richard was not an author prior to him publishing this book, but is anyone an author before they are published? I think not. Pony also points out that it is obvious that Richard is "only in it to make money", or he would volunteer to help people in need. Richard does, in fact, volunteer to help people in need. He travels around the country speaking to schools and other organizations at his own expense. Richard and his wife have been involved in various charities that help children, and were foster parents LONG BEFORE his book was published. Richard's story was also checked for facts before it was published, as any repectable publisher would do, both in the US, and abroad. I am sorry that Pony felt ill to see Richard receive praise for his bravery, but I, on the other hand, felt ill for the obvious reasons when I read this book. I felt ill knowing that these boys suffered so much at the hands of someone who was supposed to protect them.
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