The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family

by Dave Pelzer


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Imagine a young boy who has never had a loving home. His only possesions are the old, torn clothes he carries in a paper bag. The only world he knows is one of isolation and fear. Although others had rescued this boy from his abusive alcoholic mother, his real hurt is just begining — he has no place to call home.

This is Dave Pelzer's long-awaited sequel to A Child Called "It". In The Lost Boy, he answers questions and reveals new adventures through the compelling story of his life as an adolescent. Now considered an F-Child (Foster Child), Dave is moved in and out of five different homes. He suffers shame and experiences resentment from those who feel that all foster kids are trouble and unworthy of being loved just because they are not part of a "real" family.

Tears, laughter, devastation and hope create the journey of this little lost boy who searches desperately for just one thing — the love of a family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558745155
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/01/1997
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 20,500
Product dimensions: 5.04(w) x 7.46(h) x 0.88(d)
Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Dave Pelzer travels throughout the nation promoting inspiration and resilience. His unique accomplishments have garnered personal commendations from Presidents Reagan and Bush. In 1993 Pelzer was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans (TOYA), and in 1994 was the only American to receive The Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) award. He was also a torchbearer for the Centennial Olympic Games


Rancho Mirage, California

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Daly City, California


High School equivalency certificate

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One

Winter 1970, Daly City, California—I'm alone. I'm hungry and I'm shivering in the dark! I sit on top of my hands at the bottom of the stairs in the garage. My head is tilted backward. My hands became numb hours ago. My neck and shoulder muscles begin to throb. But that's nothing new—l've learned to turn off the pain.

I'm Mother's prisoner.

I am nine years old and I've been living like this for years. Every day it's the same thing. I wake up from sleeping on an old army cot in the garage, perform the morning chores, and if I'm lucky, eat leftover breakfast cereal from my brothers. I run to school, steal food, return to "The House" and am forced to throw up in the toilet bowl to prove that I didn't commit the crime of stealing any food.

I receive beatings or play another one of her "games," perform afternoon chores, then sit at the bottom of the stairs until I'm summoned to complete the evening chores. Then, and only if I have completed all of my chores on time, and if I have not committed any "crimes," I may be fed a morsel of food.

My day ends only when Mother allows me to sleep on the army cot, where my body curls up in my meek effort to retain any body heat. The only pleasure in my life is when I sleep. That's the only time I can escape my life. I love to dream.

Weekends are worse. No school means no food and more time at "The House." All I can do is try to imagine myself away —somewhere, anywhere — from "The House." For years I have been the outcast of "The Family." As long as I can remember I have always been in trouble and have "deserved" to be punished. At first I thought I was a bad boy. Then I thought Mother was sick because she only acted differently when my brothers were not around and my father was away at work. But somehow I always knew Mother and I had a private relationship. I also realized that for some reason I have been Mother's sole target for her unexplained rage and twisted pleasure.

I have no home. I am a member of no one's family. I know deep inside that I do not now, nor will I ever deserve any love, attention or even recognition as a human being. I am a child called "It."

I'm all alone inside.

Upstairs the battle begins. Since it's after four in the afternoon, I knnow both of my parents are drunk. The yelling starts. First the name-calling, then the swearing. I count the seconds before the subject turns to me—it always does. The sound of Mother's voice makes my insides turn. "What do you mean?" she shrieks at my father, Stephen. "You think I treat "The Boy' bad? Do you?" Her voice then turns ice cold. I can imagine her pointing a finger at my father's face. "You ... listen ... to ... me. You ... have no idea what "It's' like. If you think I treat "It' that bad ... then ... "It' can live somewhere else.

I can picture my father—who, after all these years, still tries somewhat to stand up for me —swirling the liquor in his glass, making the ice from his drink rattle. "Now calm down," he begins. "All I'm trying to say is... well— no child deserves to live like that. My God Roerva, you treat ... dogs better than ... than you do The Boy."

The argument builds to an ear-shattering climax. Mother slams her drink on the kitchen countertop.

Father has crossed the line. No one ever tells Mother what to do. I know I will have to pay the price for her rage. I realize it's only a matter of time before she orders me upstairs. I prepare myself. Ever so slowly I slide my hands out from under my butt, but not toofar—for I know sometimes she'll check on me. I know I am never to move a muscle without her permission.

I feel so small inside. I only wish I could somehow ...

Without warning, Mother opens the door leading to the downstairs garage. "You!" she screams. "Get your ass up here! Now!"

In a flash I bolt up the stairs. I wait a moment for her command before I timidly open the door. Without a sound I approach Mother and await one of her "games."

It's the game of address, in which I have to stand exactly three feet in front of her, my hands glued to my side, my head tilted down at a 45 degree angle and my eyes locked onto her feet. Upon the first command I must look above her bust, but below her eyes. Upon the second command I must look into her eyes, but never, never may I speak: breathe or move a single muscle unless Mother gives me permission to do so. Mother and I have been playing this game since I was seven years old, so today it's just another routine in my lifeless existence.

Suddenly Mother reaches over and seizes my right ear. By accident, I flinch. With her free hand Mother punishes my movement with a solid slap to my face. Her hand becomes a blur, right up until the moment before it strikes my face. I cannot see very well without my glasses. Since it is not a school day, I am not allowed to wear them. The blow from her hand burns my skin. "Who told you to move?" Mother sneers. I keep my eyes open, fixing them on a spot on the carpet. Mother checks for my reaction before again yanking my ear as she leads me to the front door.

"Turn around!" she yells. "Look at me!" But I cheat. From the corner of my eye I steal a glance at Father. He gulps down another swallow from his drink. His once rigid shoulders are now slumped over. His job as a fireman in San Francisco, his years of drinking and the strained relationship with Mother have taken their toll on him. Once my superhero and known for his courageous efforts in rescuing children from burning buildings, Father is now a beaten man. He takes another swallow before Mother begins. "Your father here thinks I treat you bad. Well, do I? DO I?"

My lips tremble. For a second I'm unsure whether I am supposed to answer Mother must know this and probably enjoys "the game" all the more. Either way, I'm doomed. I feel like an insect about to be squashed. My dry mouth opens. I can feel a film of paste separate from my lips. I begin to stutter.

Before I can form a word, Mother again yanks on my right ear. My ear feels as if it were on fire. "Shut that mouth of yours! No one told you to talk! Did they? Well, did they?" Mother bellows.

My eyes seek out Father. Seconds later he must have felt my need. "Roerva," he says, "that's no way to treat The Boy."

Again I tense my body and again Mother yanks on my ear, but this time she maintains the pressure, forcing me to stand on my toes. Mother's face turns dark red. "So you think I treat him badly? I . . ." Pointing her index finger at her chest, Mother continues. "I don't need this. Stephen, if you think I'm treating It badly ... well, It can just get out of my house!"

I strain my legs, trying to stand a little taller; and begin to tighten my upper body so that when Mother strikes I can be ready. Suddenly she lets go of my ear and opens the front door. "Get out!" she screeches. "Get out of my house! I don't like you! I don't want you! I never loved you! Get the hell out of my house!"

I freeze. I'm not sure of this game. My brain begins to spin with all the options of what Mother's real intentions may be. To survive, I have to think ahead. Father steps in front of me. "No!" he cries out. "That's enough. Stop it, Roerva. Stop the whole thing. Just let The Boy be."

Mother now steps between Father and me. "No?"

Mother begins in a sarcastic voice. "How many times have you told me that about The Boy? The Boy this, The Boy that. The Boy, The Boy, The Boy. How many times, Stephen?" She reaches out, touching Father's arm as if pleading with him; as if their lives would be so much better if I no longer lived with them—if I no longer existed.

Inside my head my brain screams, Oh my God! Now I know!

Without thinking Father cuts her off "No," he states in a low voice. "This," he says, spreading his hands, "this is wrong." I can tell by his trailing voice that Father has lost his steam. He appears to be on the verge of tears. He looks at me and shakes his head before looking at Mother. "Where will he live? Who's going to take care of ...?"

"Stephen, don't you get it? Don't you understand? I don 't give a damn what happens to him. I don 't give a damn about The Boy.

Suddenly, the front door flies open. Mother smiles as she holds the doorknob. "Okay. All right. I'll leave it up to The Boy." She bends down, just inches in front of my face. Mother's breath reeks of booze. Her eyes are ice cold and full of pure hatred. I wish I could turn away. I wish I were back in the garage. In a slow, raspy voice, Mother says, "lf you think I treat you so badly, you can leave."

I snap out of my protective mold and takke a chance by looking at Father. He misses my glance as he sips another drink. My mind begins to tumble. I don't understand the purpose of her new game. Suddenly I realize that this is no game. It takes a few seconds for me to understand that this is my chance—my chance to escape. I've wanted to run away for years, but some invisible fear kept me from doing it. But I tell myself that this is too easy. I so badly want to move my legs, but they remain rigid.

"Well?" Mother screams into my ear "it's your choice." Time seems to stand still. As I stare down at the carpet, I can hear Mother begin to hiss. "He won't leave. The Boy will never leave. It hasn't the guts to go.

I can feel the inside of my body begin to shake. For a moment I close my eyes, wishing myself away. In my mind I can see myself walking through the door. I smile inside. I so badly want to leave. The more I envision myself walking through the door, the more I begin to feel a warmth spread through my soul. Suddenly, I can feel my body moving. My eyes pop open. I look down at my worn-out sneakers. My feet are stepping through the front door. Oh my God, I say to myself, I can't believe I'm doing this! Out of fear, I dare not stop.

"There," Mother triumphantly states. "The Boy did it. It's his decision. I didn't force him. Remember that, Stephen. I want you to know I didn't force him.

I step through the front door, knowing full well that Mother will reach out and yank me back in. I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I quicken my pace. After stepping past the door, I turn right and walk down the red steps. From behind me I can hear the sounds of Mother and Father straining themselves as they lean outside. "Roerva," Father says in a low voice "this is wrong."

"No!" she replies in a flat voice. "And remember, it was his decision. Besides, he'll be back."

1998. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Lost Boy by David Pelzer. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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Lost Boy 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 828 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well the book was amazing and im only 12 but the first book talked about how he finally escaped.......but this one starts with how he was stuck with his mom again. The book made me hate his mom even more. Make sure you read the first " child called it " it is a outstanding book. I highly recomend this series!
Colleen Dent More than 1 year ago
This book is truely amazing. A true story thatll make it impossible to put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like the first book, this one is also a very emotional experience for the reader. I experienced feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration. The first chapter reveals how the first book ended with the boy being rescued from his abusive mother. The proceeding chapters go in depth of the child's life in foster care and institutions, always in search of a loving family to care for him. Whats frustrating about this particular book, and like the first, is that it never reveals any consequences the abusive mother recieved. In fact, in this sequel, she still tries to get to him and continues to manipulate the system. What's appalling is she is allowed to do this with little or no consequences. I feel this book should be read by everyone in order to make anyone who can make a difference in our society aware of this issue. I anxiously await the third book in the series, for I wonder how the final healing has taken place for Mr. Pelzer. What has happened to his parents; did he ever learn why his mother behaved as she did? How has he learned to parent his own child in the absence of a proper example in his childhood? I could not put your book down after I bought it at the airport. My heart broke for your loss and your continued struggle to understand why your mother did those horrific things to you and your family. One could quickly blame the alchohol, but my heart ached as you continually tried to uncover what it was you could have done to make things turn out differently. Sometimes, we do not find the answers in this lifetime---your courage and honesty are appreciated. I highly recommend this book to any parent or anyone who is curious about "the system." My hat is off to you, Mr. Pelzer.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer is a memoir about him as a child who is abused and is transferred to a foster home. One characteristics that I enjoyed about the main character, Dave, is that he hardcore. When I say that he is hard core I mean that he is a man living the thug/crime life. He always steals from a store that is up the street from his school. Another characteristic that I enjoyed about Dave is that he is an abused child who is coming from an environment that is not very good. His mom abuses him, she is also an alcoholic, she swears at Dave, and she does not feed him. Then he is moved to a foster home where you can tell that he has a lot of manners, which surprised me.  Something that I had disliked about it was this kid that is in Dave’s class. He runs his own gang and his gang does all the things of an adult gang.  I would have to encourage this book because it is a good read especially for people that are looking for a new series of books. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey this book is so sad it made me cry
HelloPW More than 1 year ago
Imagine your mother or father abusing you. Well, I read a book called The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer. It’s about him being abused by his “Mother”. Dave was about 6 when his “Mother” started to abuse him. I really recommend this book to all people who think their life is terrible. If you weren’t abused your life is fine.
KrystaK More than 1 year ago
Sometimes all a person needs is a little love. The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer is an inspiring story about a child that was in search of a home. This is a true story about Dave Pelzer’s life. As a young child Dave was physically, emotionally, and mentally abused by his alcoholic mother. He was starved, beaten, and brutally screamed at constantly. Once placed in foster care all he wanted was to find a family that would love and care for him. Ultimately, Dave just wanted a place to call home. The main message of this story is to never give up. Be strong, and stand up for yourself; good things will come out of it in the end. As Dave fights to be free of his mother he never gives up. He gets transferred from house to house but never loses faith. Being such a young child, believing in himself, and having true faith after experiencing all those troubles can be one of the hardest things to do. Dave is truly an inspirational person. Another theme in this story is family. Family is one of the most precious things a person can have in their life. A lot of people take that for granted. People need to appreciate the little things in life. After reading this story a whole new view on life is experienced. Overall, I really liked this book. It made me realize how lucky I really am to have the life I have. It also kept my attention the entire time. You could pretty much visualize what was actually happening and feel the emotions Dave felt while he was experiencing all of this trauma. The one thing I didn’t like is how heartbreaking the story actually was. I really felt for Dave and wanted to do something to help him get free and find a family. I didn’t like the way he was treated and how horrible his life really was. I think everyone of high school age should read this book. It really makes someone understand the most important things in life. You get a whole new view on life and how lucky you really are. There is always someone out there less fortunate than you; so people shouldn’t take advantage of what they have. Younger kids should not read this book because it would be hard for them to understand and grasp the concept of what is actually going on. Besides this book I would recommend A Child Called It, A Man Named Dave, and The Privilege of Youth. All of these books are part of a series written by Dave about his life and all the challenges he had to overcome to get where he is today. The Lost Boy is the second book in the series. I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was very touching and well written, but the story behind it all is very heartbreaking. You really feel for Dave and people that have to go through what has happened to him.
HAK1993 More than 1 year ago
My name Is Holly and I am a junior at Holt High School and I have just finish reading The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer. This book is an autobiography and is a follow up to Dave Pelzer's book A Child Called "It". I must say that this is one of my favorite books that I have ever read. I truly enjoyed every page and looked forward to what was going to happen next. Throughout the novel the story will make you mad, make you cry, and at the end relieved; you will be crying tears of joy. The book takes you through young Dave's experiences through the foster care system after being taken.rescued really, from his alcoholic mother. You see him struggling for a place to call "home" and describes his life when he jumps from one foster home to another for six years. The novel begins were The Child Called "It" had stopped, which is with his mother and her physically and emotionally abusing him. At the age of twelve, he had overcome a trial that questioned him to be free from his mother and then begins his long journey. Dave describes how he is haunted by the fear of being returned to his insane mother, and recovering from the brainwash that his mother had fed him for years, (that's about the only thing she had fed him). His constant search to find love of a family and a "home", the desperate attempts for expectance among his peers, lead Dave through a series of foster families and also a juvenile detention center. I think that any one that wants to have a career dealing with child abuse or related fields should read this novel. This is a very emotional, in-depth novel. It opens your eyes to the child's point of view. child abuse is still relevant in today's society, and sadly some parents, who are supposed to be protecting their child, instead are the ones that are the most dangerous people in the child's life; as seen in The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so sad along with the first book a child called "it" but once you start reading i garantee you wont be able to stop. I would reccommend this book to anyone 12 and up beacause it is a mature book and hard to grasp your head around. I loved this book and i will too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a touching and startleing quest for a boy to find the mother he once new as the soft spoken kind woman figur he looked up to before the booze the fights and all the tocherous thing his mother did to him the guilt and sorrow he felt for always being the problem in his mothers marrige i give this book five stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
U all dont get it. This book is after he is abused u have to read a child caoled it first duhhhh.
Erin Conley More than 1 year ago
A story of second chances, guilt, and a quest for love and acceptance from a family David Pelzer recalls his time as a foster child who had escaped the cruel hands of his abusive mother. As he was given this second chance at life, he recounts his desperate attempts for acceptance and love from when he was 12 to when he turned 18. I found the book to be disturbing and compelling. In each chapter came a new struggle and a new hope that I could both sympathize and empathize with. Although I can never have the same experience as he had, I feel like I have a better understand of the intellect behind the foster system and the kids a part of it. It was a very quick read and I was finished within a week after picking it up; however, it also helps that I could not put the book down. The novel requires maturity and sympathy for a better understanding of what Pelzer was feeling. I would recommend this book to anyone who can handle the subjects of child abuse and foster care. Overall, I would give this book an A-; there is nothing wrong with the writing style (even though there is everything wrong with the story), but I have read better non-fiction novels.
TheBookReview More than 1 year ago
David Pelzer recalls his time as a foster child who had escaped the cruel hands of his abusive mother. As he was given this second chance at life, he recounts his desperate attempts for acceptance and love from when he was 12 to when he turned 18. I found the book to be disturbing and compelling. In each chapter came a new struggle and a new hope that I could both sympathize and empathize with. Although I can never have the same experience as he had, I feel like I have a better understand of the intellect behind the foster system and the kids a part of it. It was a very quick read and I was finished within a week after picking it up; however, it also helps that I could not put the book down. The novel requires maturity and sympathy for a better understanding of what Pelzer was feeling. I would recommend this book to anyone who can handle the subjects of child abuse and foster care. Overall, I would give this book an A-; there is nothing wrong with the writing style (even though there is everything wrong with the story), but I have read better non-fiction novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very enteresting an also very sad I feel very bad for David Pellzer as a kid being bettin stabed bunched kicked by his acholic mother but he gas no choice but to run away
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much. I read it two years ago and still cant get over it. Such a sad story, it made me cry multiple time and it made me want to reach into the book and stangle that woman. 4.5 stars cause even though it was good, no book is perfect.
Celina Benites More than 1 year ago
When I read 'A Child called It ' . I cried . The way he described the childs feelings and how he created the story was unbelieveable. I'm truly glad i read this book.. it was an eye-opener to reality. It is definitly worth the price.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just read the first book called 'A Child Called It' and I have to say I was appalled and totally horrified of the way David was treated. Although I thought it was a very violent and graphic account of the abuse he went through, I couldnt put the book down and read the whole thing in 2 hours hoping he was going to be rescued from his Monster of a mother and his weak Dad. I truely have to say David is a inspriation to all the kids out there that have been or are being abuse by thier parents or someone else. All in all, I thought it was a great book and have started to read 'The Lost Boy'
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer is about a boy named David going from foster home to foster home. He was a little boy doing anything to be friends with older kids at the foster home or at school. Some kids didn't like him because of the way he dressed or because he didn't have a real family. This book was okay because it shows how every foster parent/character treated David. Some of them treated him with respect and some of them were mean to him. The foster parents/characters that really treated him with respect was Alice and Harold because they let him have freedom. Like they let him do and have whatever he wanted. Alice and Harold welcome David in their home and made him feel comfortable and gave their love to him. Like when they told David that they were moving, David thought that he had to find another foster home, but Alice and Harold told him that he coming with them. I like the book because there were some very interesting topics. David was young and lost. For example, He saw his mom, but she kept blowing him off. She also called foster care and said that he was ¿terrorizing the streets.¿ She left this negative vibe between her and her son. He was only bad because he wanted to fit in. This invent kept me interested because throughout the book it stay on the topic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so sad that i started to cry a little.I like everybody that trys to stop child abusement in this book the dad is DAVID's hero intill his dad told the police the lie i haven't read the whole book yet tho this is my review so far
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The second in a trilogy, the book isn't too long and can be read by many age groups. It brings to our attention the trials and tribulations of, not only the foster child, but the foster family as well.
ctmsmihe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lot of books that are depressing you might pick it up read a little bit and then put it down. Such as The Child Called It, Sold and Lovely Bones. But that wasn¿t the case when I picked up the book The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer. This book shows what kids that get abused go through.The Lost Boy is an autobiography about a boy named Dave who gets brutally abused by his mother and is taken away from her and sent to live in a foster home. As he is in the foster home he gets into trouble trying to fit in with the other kids. He mostly steals stuff from stores to impress the kids. The kids were impressed and they started to like him because they would just tell him what they wanted and he would go into the store and get it for them. The only part of the book that I really didn¿t like was when Dave was stealing from a hobby store to impress the kids. I think the author Dave Pelzer spent too much time explaining what was going on and I just found it really boring. I think he should have told a little more about the kids and what they would do after Dave would steal the things they asked for. I found this book interesting because it showed what it¿s like for kids to be in a foster home and some of the things they have to go through. One of the very happy moments in the book was when he got away from his mother. After all those years of getting abused.This is one of the few books that held my interest. So if you have a hard time finding books or you really don¿t like reading I would recommend this book.
t1bnotown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When we finish A Child Called "It", we think that Dave's troubles must be over, but this book shows us how he struggles with more of his mother's mind games, the legal system of the early 1970s that did not offer adequit child protections from birth parents, the instability of a series of foster homes, and his own need for emotional freedom from his experiences. Dave struggles to adjust to what has happened and acts out in the process. Meanwhile, though Dave forgives his mother long after her death in the next book, my sense of justice was irked by the fact that she got away with everything without jail time and was able to threaten Dave with institutionalization (although if Dave had been put in a psychiatric ward, perhaps his mother's crimes would have been exposed to more active authorities who would have been able to do more). Dave struggles constantly in this book, but eventually he begins to grow past his experiences and fulfill his needs.
nm.fall07.b.ovalle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought is book was very sad because i couldnt believe all the violence he was going threw i would never treat my son or daughter that way. This book was based on a child called "IT". I believe when you give birth to a baby its a present that god is giving you and that you should and have to treat them as good as you possilby can. This book was like one of the books that ive actually finshed it was great and i recomend others to read this book too i personally like it alot.
XxMak3aSc3neXox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This Book gets 5 stars out of 5!this book is great!it true and from the heartyoull never put it down!READ IT!
Katie_H on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"The Lost Boy" is the sequel to "A Child Called It," and it continues where the first memoir left off. This, the second installment, takes the reader through the author's years in foster care after being taken away from his sadistic mother. It is refreshing to hear positive commentary on the foster care system, since most of what is reported is horrible. Dave's strength, perseverence, and unshakeable spirit are extremely inspiring, and it is heartbreaking to learn of his experiences. This is a moving and miraculous story of survival, but it is not quite as poignant as the first in the series.