I find the reviews of this book suspiscious. There are over 1700 reviews and a significant majority of these are "Kids Reviews." I have been a customer of Amazon.com for a long time and have purchased a lot of books and other items. No other book at Amazon, that I have seen, has so many of these "Kids Reviews."
A "Kids Review" is a review posted by someone who claims to be under 13 years of age. Since it is illegal to ask a child under 13 years of age for personal information these "kids" must not be required to have actual Amazon accounts. If you take the time to comb through the review history you will see that even the most moderate criticism is immediately followed by 4 or 5 "Kids Reviews" over the next couple of days and then the review activity falls off. This behavior has two consequences; a) the critical review is moved off of the front page and b) the lower star rating is cancelled out by the surge of 5 star reviews.
I have to call shenanigans on this. I believe that someone, or a group of someones, is trying to deceive the Amazon customers by posting fallacious reviews. I may be wrong, and this is just my opinion, but the activity strikes me as very suspiscious. Your mileage may vary.
This isn't to say that you will not like this book, but you will need to do your due diligence in evaluating it as a potential purchase. Read the reviews of actual people with actual accounts and check their other reviews to see if their taste is inline with yours.
Various critiques of Dave Pelzer state that he is first a self-marketer. You can find some of them by Googling. These critiques also call into question the complete accuracy of his books. I have not seen a complete assessment of his case in the media, including the complete details of his statements concerning being taken into foster care due to the abuse. I recently called his office, as listed on the back of this book for more information, but as the office was apparently closed for the day according to the answering machine, I hung up without leaving a message and went to his website instead. The next day I received a voice mail from an employ at his office indicating that "Someone from my phone number had called and didn't leave a message. And, they wanted to be sure an adult had called and not a child who is pranking the office." I guess my phone number was on their caller i.d. That was one of the strangest messages I ever received from a business office. Your suspicion may be correct about "reviewers" doing some unusual things to keep ratings on this site higher.
I am a Tenth Grade English teacher. My classes read this book. I imagine that many teachers who have their class read it also have them write a review of the book. Many of them probably provide extra credit if it is posted on Amazon.com... That's my guess. Hey...Kids are reading books and reviewing them. I'm sorry if I see absolutely NO PROBLEM with that.
1) There are a lot of "kids' posts" because KIDS READ THIS BOOK. 2) Kids tend to rate things as either 1 star or 5 stars. It's part of the concrete thinking stage. 3) The style of the reviews display a variety of authors. 4) Try reading the conspiracy rags. You're obvously of that ilk.
I just stumbled across your post today (June 25, 2007), so apologies for being so late in responding. I am a self-published author and so am extremely tuned into how other authors work the Amazon review system. For example, I know that the books of "J.T. Leroy" also enjoyed a similar phenomenon, wherein every scathing review (or potential expose) was followed by a passel of raves so as to push the pan off the first page, as it were. There are plenty of other writers who do this as well, although I hesitate to mention any names since the majority of them are struggling small press or POD authors, who don't need to be further discredited.
I have to tell you, although I don't doubt that Pelzer suffered some sort of abuse, I think most of the stories in his relentless series of self-aggrandising books stretch the bounds of credulity. His Grand Guignol home life brings to my mind the stories of those people who are convinced by their therapists that they've suffered ritual Satanic abuse.
I'm not saying that kids aren't reading the book, but the pattern of reviews is suspicious. I've noticed that the book can go a month or more without a single review and then immediately after a lower rating review is posted five "Kid's Reviews" come up with a five star rating and very little content. Could it really be that teachers happening to be assigning this book to their students at just the right time to knock out all of the negaive reviews everytime they come up? I don't think it is a coincedence.
I posted my initial comment to warn potential buyers that there is possibly something amiss here. People who are spending money on this book have a right to know what they are getting. I want buyers to realize that the preponderance of five star reviews isn't necessarily an indication of the quality of the book.
MM, I'm curious, why did you assign this particular book to a tenth grade class? I have a hard time seeing the value of reading a poorly written book in an English class. There are similar themed books that are much better written. One Child is a great book, well-written and really moving. I read it as a teenager and it had a profound effect on the way I saw my classmates and myself.
Blake, I realize that being an independant publisher can be challenging. I'm glad that you are not employing these techniques. A person has a right to get what they are buying. If publishers/authors are stacking the reviews, it is tantamount to fraud, imo. It is no different than a company claiming their product will do something that it does not.
I have my low level readers read this book in 10th grade. It is a high interest read for them... and a book that they actually WANT to finish. Most students in this class have never completed a book on their own... but after this read, they want to find out what happened to him later... and thus read The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave on their own. In my opinion, ANY book that gets kids reading on their own is valuable in the classroom.
Kids love this book. This kind of disturbs me since I found the book SO upsetting as an adult and it took me MONTHS to get over being upset about it. I have seen what I think is dilibrate tampering of reviews of less popular books but this book was a national bestseller for months. No one needs to tamper with it. What wouldn't surprise me however is if KIDS who loved the book and admire David are trying to bump off negative reviews themselves in outrage that someone has dissed their hero. I myself believe his story and am annoyed by those who claim he is lying just because he has made money from the books. Those various critics of David Pelzer actually amount to one guy who wrote an article in The New York Times. This short article got several facts from the book wrong such as the number of brothers David had. Quotes from this article is the only "proof" you will find that David was lying. I've often seen people comment that David was proven a liar but the only "proof" they ever come up with is this same article "dysfunction for dollars" time and again which is only an opinion piece and a lousy inaccurate one at that.
I don't disbelieve his story because he has made money; I disbelieve it because it's so poorly written and so very disbelievable. I don't doubt that these type of abuses take place; I DO doubt that they all took place to Pelzer.
You said "ANY book that gets kids reading on their own is valuable in the classroom". Really? So if I give kids a book about how to build pipe bombs, that's valuable? Or I can give them a book that encourages boys to see teenage girls and women as nothing more than sexual objects? This is "valuable"? Or what about books that only encourage and glorify violence? This is worthwhile? If you're really a 10th grade English teacher you know better than most that such books actually exist like this....
You're entitled to your opinion but you are an extremely blind person if you really believe "if it's a book, it must be good".
OK, Drama Maloy, that's a pretty thin branch to be standing on. I'm sure MM wasn't dwelling on the obvious books that are of questionable quality. All of your examples have NOTHING to do with the book we're discussing, so I don't know why your tangent was necessary. MM was speaking in the context of kids reading a book that is offered in Scholastic magazine, which screens out pipe-bomb books and the like. The objection to the book was not its content, but its style. The way you jump to conclusions is positively neurotic.
Many reviewers use the under 13 option to remain anonymous, as it will not ask for identification. For what it's worth, I'm in my twenties, and I found this book so horrendously written that I didn't read more than 2/3 of it, even though I'm now out $9.95.
I haven't read this book, but what I keep wondering as I am reading all of the reviews is this: Why is David singled out for abuse and not his brothers? None of the summaries or reviews sheds any light on why the mother singles him out from all of her children. Can anyone provide me with any insight here?
I am way over 13. I have read countless books, many I have purchased from Amazon. I rarely review a book because I simply don't have the time. I don't need to get someone to validate my opinion in order to make it valid. Everyone has an opinion. It truly doesn't matter if you believe the story or not. What you do not know is how valuable the book is to the many thousands of people who have been abused and for those who seek to understand abuse. I do not know Dave Pelzer and do not know if the story is true. I want to believe it is true, yet I also want to believe it is fiction.
I do, however, know my spouse. I can tell you with complete honesty that the story in this book CAN be true because my spouse suffered the same type of horrors from her mother. At first I did not believe her. I didn't want to believer her. I did believe her mother was abusive, but not in the way she described it to me. After many years of struggling to keep my relationship with her together, I finally got a chance to read the CPS report from the state that outlined in graphic detail what her and her sister went through. It opened my eyes to the truth. It answered many questions, but it did not give me a first hand account of what it felt like to be abused. The report was very clinical and documented only what was seen from the outside. Dave Pelzer's book gave me that first hand account. It answered questions for me and perhaps more importantly saved my marriage.
If Dave Pelzer makes millions of dollars for that, God bless him. I wish him and his family happiness and joy.
Though awareness of abuse is important, all too often there is a an unspoken and uncriticized voyeuristic aspect to 'awareness'. It becomes a question of who can out-do the other victim or third party story. As a therapist who works with abused kids, I know all the dirty details of abuse, and how horrible it can be. If each person who wrote a review (or bought a copy of a book full of abuse detials) would also speak out to their local, state, and federal government for dollars for treatment and prevention, there would be far fewer tell all books of the juicy details of child abuse. One must accept that there is an audience for these kinds of representations among the same kind of person who loves to read horror fiction, and have little genuine concern for children. Perhaps books about how to effectively treat kids who have been abused should be supported, not for the author's fame or bottom line, but to help children.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2007 4:14 PM PDT MM says: I have my low level readers read this book in 10th grade. It is a high interest read for them... and a book that they actually WANT to finish. Most students in this class have never completed a book on their own... but after this read, they want to find out what happened to him later... and thus read The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave on their own. In my opinion, ANY book that gets kids reading on their own is valuable in the classroom. (quote)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
this is such an old post its probably dumb to reply; but I disagree. There are better books that can get a non reader to read and still be worthwhile....the Harry Potter series, the early SE Hinton books ("Tex" etc) and other books that while not great literature are at least not based on questionable evidence and poor writing.
I spent around 10 minutes paging through this book in the store (about all the time a speed reader needs to go through a thin, large-font book) and while I found the torture descriptions horrifying, I began to feel there was just something off and fishy about it. After reading the other reviews, I understand now why I had this WTF reaction; I subconsciously knew I was being manipulated. It didn't add up. For instance: Does a child, any child, meekly lie atop a burning gas range all by himself just because told to? And while burning alive, calculate ways to trick his mother, start to ask "whiny" questions? And then afterward does NOT die of third degree burns over at least half of his body? - which would have logically been the result, had it actually happened. I don't deny that such abuse does happen to children (adults too) at the hands of sadistic crazies. But the way this was presented, each more extreme than the last, to and past the point where it would have been fatal? I don't think so.
Late posting but, my daughter had to read this book in 10th grade. She was so intrested in it she told me about it. I started reading it and couldn't put it down. I brought his next but and we both read it. It's true, a book that gets kids to read is valuable in the classroom.
In WI, they are having 13 year olds read this in class. That might explain some of the under 13 ratings. I won't go into the why this is so wrong on so many levels. And people wonder why today's children are so messed up...
To "Grandma Diva". Speed-reading is great to get a general idea, but can cause missing or misunderstanding of important details. Only Dave's arm was burned while his mother forcibly held it over a gas range. She did not succeed in burning his body because he was able to distract her for a few minutes until his brother Ron came home from a scout meeting. Advise: if something doesn't make sense, go back and read it again, SLOWLY.