Moving Forward by David Pelzer begins well. He is passionate in his belief that in spite of life’s misery, we have the power to change and to learn from the past to make a better future through resolve, anyone can make a brilliant life for themselves and those around them. His intention is to help those who are lost, stuck, or without hope to find the power deep within to rise above, no matter the odds. To create authority in his message, David Pelzer has filled Moving Forward with anecdotes, both from his own life and people he’s met along the way.
Throughout the book, we get a glimpse of the appalling childhood that Pelzer suffered at the hands of a drunken, deranged mother who committed unspeakable violations on her child while his father stood by and watched. Each chapter subject is deeply rooted in a tiny but significant portion of Pelzer’s wretched past, as well as more recent gritty successes that have solidified his reputation as a trusted tutor in the transformation of lives. Each chapter ends with questions that initiate deeper thought into the current meaning. The questions are few, allowing the reader to spend as much or as little time as necessary on this effort.
Any teaching that moves us toward deeper investigation of ourselves is a positive step in the development of the human spirit. This book is no exception. The reader is constantly nudged toward self-actualization, spurred by intense moments of the truth that was Pelzer’s tragic childhood and his resolute healing and subsequent success that has enabled him to help others who are left to miserable misfortune.
However, despite Pelzer’s success and popularity, I found it difficult to push through Moving Forward without the irritation of pretentious altruism. His resentment toward those who allegedly belittle his success, and his assumption that this is a caveat for anyone who wants to succeed in life, is annoyingly rigid. Also, his attempt to lead by example is overshadowed by an edgy bitterness toward his life-circumstance, while less than desirable writing and irate narrative mar his positive messages to those he wants to help, which make it difficult to objectively seek useful guidance.
The book is steeped in anger and displays an arrogant, “look at me” flavor that taints the tender, loving essence that, I know, is David Pelzer. His speaking, writing, counseling, and volunteer work speak for themselves. He has helped millions. In this case, however, he comes across more like a power-hungry drill sergeant than an empathetic, compassionate healer. The confusion about why such angry words were permitted to pass is aimed more at the editors that Pelzer.
While this method may work for many - and based on the success of his previous work, it has - others will appreciate a softer, gentler approach. There are many self-help books that can help people through difficult, and horrendous times, books that are well-written, practical, and non-judgmental in offering concise, impartial advice for those who are lost in horrible circumstance.
Conversely, we cannot discount the unspeakable circumstances that took place in David Pelzer’s young life, and his courage, strength, and determination to succeed against what most would consider impossible odds must be admired. His work and dedication to the removal of human suffering, especially in children, is commendable. Unfortunately, Moving Forward is more disturbing than inspirational. His writing style suggests that he harbors much anger, which is detrimental to helping others. The often bitter tone reflects the abhorrent past that Pelzer has overcome but makes for a complicated, tangled read with a message that loses its punch early on.