Pelzer, Richard B. 1965-
PELZER, Richard B. 1965-
PERSONAL: Born 1965, in Daly City, CA; married; children: four.
ADDRESSES: Home—Boston, MA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked in the banking and financial fields.
A Brother's Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of From Predator to Prey: A Teenager's Journey.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Closer: A Man's Journey, a Memoir.
SIDELIGHTS: Richard B. Pelzer is a survivor of a harrowing 1970s childhood filled with brutal abuse. He was part of a family of boys raised by an alcoholic, sadistic mother who heaped abuse on Pelzer's older brother, Dave Pelzer (who tells his own version of his childhood in A Child Called It, The Lost Boy, and A Man Named Dave). In A Brother's Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse Richard Pelzer relates his family's history from his own perspective and tells a tale of loneliness, depression, and years of unrelenting physical and emotional abuse.
As a child, Pelzer was sometimes a co-conspirator in the abuse of his brother—not out of hatred, but out of his own instinct for survival. He lived in constant fear that his mother's diabolical attentions would be focused on him if somehow Dave was out of the picture. In order to placate his mother and divert her attention elsewhere, he was sometimes guilty of "purposely creating situations that would arouse her wrath and lead to harsh punishment of David," related a Kirkus Reviews contributor. In the book, Pelzer explains why he so often found himself standing against his brother, not to seek forgiveness, but to expose the "dynamics of a deeply dysfunctional family and the unholy alliances that often develop in such a unit," observed Library Journal reviewer Antoinette Brinkman.
Eventually, David was removed from the household by social services, and Pelzer's greatest fear came true: at eight years old, he became the target of his mother's rage and depravity. In a matter-of-fact tone, he describes the torments he endured and outlines the extraordinary efforts he expended just to survive, such as learning to sleep with his eyes open. Despite the horror of the situation, no one intervened to help him: not social services, not his other brothers, not his teachers or neighbors, not even his father. He was, in all respects, alone with his pain as he struggled to cope and find a way to rise above his grim circumstances. At age fifteen, Pelzer took the initial steps toward escape with the help of others, including his friend Ben, who allowed Pelzer to finally "see himself more clearly," as a Publishers Weekly reviewer stated.
Booklist reviewer Stephanie Zvirin wondered whether Pelzer might be "piggybacking on the success" of brother Dave Pelzer's wrenching story of abuse. Yet Zvirin admitted that Pelzer has his own unique story to tell. Though he does not relate how he managed to recover his life after his terrible childhood, "the fact that he did manage to do that, despite the odds, makes his story worth reading," Zvirin concluded. Zvirin also commented that A Brother's Journey ends abruptly, and that Pelzer does not elaborate on how he managed to turn away from such a childhood to become a successful financial expert, author, husband, and father. Brinkman observed that Pelzer offers very little reflection on how his abusive childhood affected his later teen and adult years. The Kirkus Reviews critic also stated that it is "hard to understand why no one intervened" in the situation, since the abuse was wellknown to teachers, nurses, and neighbors, although Pelzer explains that awareness of child abuse was not as high in the 1970s. In the course of the book, concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "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."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of A Brother's Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse, p. 538.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2004, review of A Brother's Journey, p. 995.
Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Antoinette Brinkman, review of A Brother's Journey, p. 132.
Publishers Weekly, November 15, 2004, review of A Brother's Journey, p. 50.