Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Moving Forward: Taking The Lead in Your Life by Dave Pelzer

For me, this is the essence of life: Accepting the situation for the reality of what it truly is ad accomplishing what needs to be done to advance oneself for the greater good of all, no matter cost or sacrifice.
[excerpt from the book]

Moving Forward: Taking The Lead in Your Life
by Dave Pelzer
Center Street, June 2008 (ARE)
Nonfiction (Self-Help); 192 pgs

I haven’t a clue how to review a book like this. Self-help books cater to the individual on a very personal level, often times requiring deep thought and inner reflection. The questions we ask ourselves and the thoughts we ponder as we read a book like this are not always easy ones to face—some we may not even come to consider until long after finishing a book, particularly if we decide to apply it to our lives.

There’s also the problem that not everyone will hear the message the author is trying to convey. There could be a lot of reasons for that. Perhaps the person is not ready yet or maybe the message is not one the reader needs to learn. It could be, too, that the author’s method and style do not connect with the person trying to take in the information. That is no one’s fault, of course, just a fact of life.

Quite frankly, I do not often read self-help books. Rarely, actually. I could count on one hand the number of self-help books I have read. I guess it says something that I remember them though, doesn’t it? It is just not a book category that I gravitate towards in general. I do love to read inspirational stories, but usually those come in the form of a novel or memoir.

Whenever I begin a self-help book, my hackles automatically go up. Who is this person and why does he or she think they can tell me something about myself that I don’t already know? I know me best, after all. Eventually, the writer wins me over though and I start to pay closer attention. I may not always learn something I did not know, but I do find validation, inspiration, and sometimes even get a kick in the pants to motivate me to change or do whatever it is I need to do.

When I was offered the chance to read and review Dave Pelzer’s latest book, Moving Forward: Taking the Lead in Your Life, I was a little hesitant. Did I really want to read a self-help book right now? Would I gain anything from the experience or would it be a waste of my time? After careful consideration, I decided to give it a chance. I admit the identity of the author played a huge part in my final decision to give it a try. Dave Pelzer is a man I admire and respect, and I was interested in hearing what he had to say.

I first came across Dave Pelzer years ago when I was encouraged to read his first book, A Child Called It, the author’s account of his abusive childhood. I went on to read two more of this books, The Lost Boy, about the author’s time in the foster care system, and A Man Named Dave, the author’s entry into adulthood and in coming to terms with his past.

A Child Called It and The Lost Boy are staples in my office. The books make the rounds every other year or so, new people encountering them, reveling in the author’s story—not because of the terrible childhood Dave Pelzer had to endure, but more so because of what an inspiration Dave Pelzer became. Despite all odds, he rose above a terrible past to make something of himself and to give back to society. He served in the United Air Force and has worked with at risk youth much of his life. He offers hope to abused and neglected children—and hope to those of us who are trying to work with and help those kids. He doesn’t reach out to just those kids or people who have been abused, however. Dave Pelzer speaks to all of us.

In his book, Moving Forward, Mr. Pelzer makes a point of saying that he is not just the “child-abuse” guy. His life story is not so much about what happened to him as it is about his journey to move forward in life. It is all of our stories, really. We all have made mistakes, been through difficult times, and felt helpless at one point or another. It is what we do in these situations, how we react to the baggage we collect throughout our lives, that either will land us in a rut or help us achieve our goals in life.

Mr. Pelzer’s ideas and philosophies are not too different from my own. I decided long ago not to be a victim. I would not let my past hold me back nor would I let it get the better of me. That isn’t to say that there haven’t been difficult times, times when I wanted the world to go on without me or felt like nothing I could say or do was right. There are times when it is easier to just take things as they come instead of taking the reins and being an active player in my own life.

There were two parts of Mr. Pelzer’s book that spoke to me the loudest. One part was about being a good leader, a mentor and a hero. As a supervisor who doesn’t always feel up to the task, I am striving constantly to be a better leader—to be fair and just. The other had to do with standing up for what you believe, not always falling into people-pleaser mode, something I am guilty of doing all too often.

The author is rather blunt in manner, taking the say-it-is approach, and uses humor as a tool for connecting with his readers. He shares his own life experiences, offering them as examples where he has failed or succeeded at doing the right thing. He is not afraid to admit his mistakes. He learns from them and moves on, a message he repeats throughout his book.

Moving Forward will not appeal to everyone, but it certainly will motivate and inspire many. Much of what the author writes about is common sense. Dave Pelzer encourages readers to take charge of their lives and strive to be the best they can be. He acknowledges that this is not something that can be done overnight; but, with time and effort, it is a goal everyone can strive for with the right mindset. When all is said and done, I am glad I took the time to read Mr. Pelzer's Moving Forward.

Rating: * (Good)

Check out the author’s website for more information about the author and his books.

Read what Nancy had to say about this book:
Bookfoolery and Babble


  1. The only one of his books I've read is "A Child Called It." It was difficult to read, but helpful and motivating knowing that this man came from such a horrid background and didn't let that past run or ruin his life. I like the message that you don't have to be a victim. I had to learn that lesson and it is one of the (if not THE) most valuable lessons of my life. Thanks for reviewing this book.

    I never thought about why I don't care to read self-help books, but I think you might have come up with one of the reasons -- I too approach these books with a "why should I listen to this guy/gal" question and don't usually want to spend the time reading it to find out if I should!

  2. His first book definitely struck a chord with me too, Terri. I agree--it was a very valuable lesson for me too. I truly believe that believing in one self can be very empowering. It's not always easy to do though!

    I am glad to know I am not the only one who questions the authority of the author of self-help books. It's really a knee jerk reaction for me and not so much something I set out to do consciously.

  3. I haven't read any of Pelzer's books, alhough they've "made the rounds" as you say!

    You started by stating that this type of book is hard to review -- I agree, because it is such a personal issue (what you *get* or *take away from* the book). You did a very nice job synthesizing the points he makes and passing your interpretation along to your readers.

  4. Fond of Books - I think that's what makes it so difficult--reading a book like this is such a personal experience. Thank you for the compliment. I had hoped to do just that but wasn't sure I succeeded.


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