It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth -- and ultimately her life.
Beatrice Sparks was an American therapist and Mormon youth counselor who was known for producing books purporting to be the 'real diaries' of troubled teenagers. The books deal with topical issues such as drug abuse, Satanism, teenage pregnancy or AIDS, and are presented as cautionary tales. Although Sparks always presented herself as merely the discoverer and editor of the diaries, records at the U.S. Copyright Office show that in fact she was listed as the sole author for all but two of them. Sparks began working with teenagers in 1955, after attending the University of California at Los Angeles and Brigham Young University. She has worked as a music therapist at Utah State Mental Hospital and taught continuing education courses at BYU. Critics have called the precise extent of Sparks' qualifications and experience into question. The editorial credit on some of the diaries published by Sparks identifies her as "Dr Beatrice Sparks, PhD". However, when journalist Aileen Pace Nilsen interviewed Sparks for School Library Journal in 1979, she was unable to find any confirmation of where or when Sparks earned her doctorate. Nilsen also wrote that Sparks was "vague about specifics" when asked about her counseling qualifications and professional experience. Sparks said that her experience working with troubled adolescents made her want to produce cautionary tales that would keep other teens from falling into the same traps. Her first work, Go Ask Alice, was published under the byline 'Anonymous' in 1971.
i read this in high school and went "oh my god...i'm never doing acid" and then went " how can anyone pretend this is a real diary?!" and then ate lsd-laced peanuts, locked myself in a closet, pulled out all of my hair and woke up three weeks later in a hospital bed..."what happened?" crap crap crap...this book is crap. plotline: 1. i'm a good girl 2. i'm going to a party...with boys...haha 3. i'll have a beer 4. i might as well try a joint 5. cocaine is awesome. what a fun fun double-fun night! 6. lsd! san francisco! rape! lsd! i'm hungry 7. mom dad take me back! 8. relapse 9.i'm never doing drugs again 10. "the subject of this book died three weeks after her decision not to keep another diary..." so yeah, fake. people don't turn into junkies an hour after their first beer. american youth, don't fall for this hoo-ha!
***its funny how uptight people have gotten about this review: its the only book that's managed multiple "its for the betterment of our youth comments." a) i didn't miss the anti-drug sentiments. b) is fearmongering the best way we can come up with to keep kids from becoming drug addicts? that makes me sad inside
It's hard for me to write this review because I don't really know where to begin.
Basically whether you believe this is fiction or not that should not matter. If you believe this story is too far fetched to be true, then I must say that you are absolutely wrong, because my (recovering) drug addicted sister is "Alice", I am the innocent "Alex", and our family is the one that will always love her and always take her back. Stories like this absolutely exist in real life. My sister even started using at the same age as "Alice" so stuff like this does happen, even to good people.
This book should not be looked at as "anti-drug propaganda" but rather as a story of a true drug addict. This book illustrates addiction perfectly, for the addict and for his or her family.
A lot of the content is hard to stomach with the graphic imagery and language, but if you know an addict, or have one in your family, it is definitely what you can expect from people who revolve their life around drugs.
The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because I like lighter books so much better than the dark ones. Nonetheless this book is very good if you choose to not be so shut off from the reality of this story.
This book is crap on its own. But those of you old enough to remember the latter portion of the 70s might remember that Beatrice Sparks, the "editor" of Go Ask Alice, also "edited" a bunch of other alarmist books aimed at teens, all supposedly taken from teenagers' diaries. One was called "Jay's Journal," and was purportedly about a teen who gets involved with Satanism and eventually commits suicide to escape the horror of it all.
Even as a 12-year-old, however, it was obvious to me that every single one of these books was written by the same person (Ms. Sparks, presumably). It's not as though you had to perform a sophisticated rhetorical analysis to see that the authors were the same; there were all these stupid little tics in the writing common to all the books. The one I happen to remember is that the author would repeat things three times and then put an exclamation point after them, as in, "This evening was great great great!" I suppose it was her attempt to imitate unbridled teenage exuberance, or something. Anyway, apart from the fact that this book is a fraud, it's also stupid. Don't bother.
(I will say that after reading the scene where our heroine drinks a Coke that someone has laced with LSD, whereupon she immediately starts on the road to JUNKIEDOM and DEATH, I was terrified to drink anything at a party.)
I was never forced to read this when I was younger, so I thought that I'd pick it up and read it now, for a laugh, being as there are days when there is just too much blood in my drug-stream.
7pm 12 Nov 2007
Well, I'm about 12 page into this book and I already hate Alice. Quite a lot, actually. I hope that as I read further, Alice's drug-induced diary entries mark an improvement upon her character.
1pm 16 Nov 2007
Finished the book 3 days ago, and just finally stopped laughing so that I can be able to write this review. If this book was meant to make me want to do some drugs, then bully for Ms. Anonymous because it worked! I didn't do [extra] drugs, but it made me want to.
Some of my favourite excerpts:
"In San Francisco we won't know single soul that uses it and it will be easy to stay off." Uh, yeah, because no one in SF does drugs, right?
"...I don't want to die. I'm afraid. Isn't that ghastly and ironic? I'm afraid to live and afraid to die, just like the old Negro spiritual. I wonder what their hang-up was?" Yes, Ms. Anonymous, me too. I mean, what's with those Negroes anyway? Always singing mournful spirituals... It's like they've had a hard life or something, psh....
I'd like to say this book was horrible, but it did indeed make me laugh audibly quite a few times, so for that, it should be read (preferably while one is on some mind-altering substances).
This infuriating book is the most repugnant piece of reactionary propaganda that I've ever had the misfortune to read. Go Ask Alice is unnecessary proof that sex and drug stories are the best money makers; it helps when they also support a staunchly conservative, traditionalist agenda. The whole book is a fetid lie, and a poorly executed one at that.
OK, now that I've calmed down a little bit, let's actually discuss this "real diary." If there ever was a real diary (which seems hardly likely) it was probably very mild compared to this oversexed and overwritten garbage. What seems most likely is that Beatrice Sparks set out to write a book that would prove that smoking a joint or two, having sex without marriage, and (gasp!) not praying all the time would lead to a tragic decline and fall, eventually leading to a premature death. Now, to be fair to Sparks, I'm sure that this literary hoax was on some level a serious effort to help kids avoid the pitfalls of drugs, etc., but the author goes about it a way that is misguided at best and ethically indefensible. If this is on some level a real diary (once again, extremely unlikely) the advertisement and sale of it as a lurid, trashy cautionary tale is a disturbing thought. But, the fact that it is a lie disguised as the truth is simply disgusting. It is a blatant slap in the face to all families who have suffered real drug related losses. It's the commercialization of tragedy.
Next, there is the writing style and storyline (remember, this is fiction) to consider. The book does tug at the heartstrings, but only in a way most abusive to the reader. If there is one thing that always upsets me in fiction, it is any tragedy involving the elderly; this has always bothered me. Naturally, Sparks kills off both of the narrator's grandparents in the most tragic ways the story allows. She exploits the reader's archetypal love of grandparents for cheap heartache (is it any wonder that this was made into a TV movie of the week?). If there was any clue to this book's lack of authenticity, it's the glaringly obvious fact that the grandparents will die before book's end, something a child could see coming. The reader is supposed to accept that a girl who can't figure out how a doctor can tell if a girl is a virgin, would, a relatively short time later, be using language out of a Henry Miller novel. The attempts to sound like an innocent girl and a jaded junkie are hackneyed and incompetent. The progression is totally unrealistic, but is still clearly the progression of a novel, not a real diary. I have to hand it to Sparks, she really throws in everything, including some outrageous, barely concealed homophobia: of course the drug dealers are gay, and drugs make the narrator want to be a lesbian and similar such things. And unsurprisingly, it must be pointed out at the end that the publication of this "real diary" is a commemoration of the "thousands of drug deaths that year." I think that if parents chose to sit down with their kids and talked about drugs without stigmatization instead of letting them read this crap, it would be a small, but much more intelligent (and certainly more tasteful) tribute to the dead and a step towards a more educated future.
Go Ask Alice was an important book for me; I can honestly say I've never run to the computer so fast to type out a review, good or bad, before. I do understand, truly, why books like Alice exist. Parents fear for the welfare of their children and want to have preventative measures, while kids love stories packed with drugs and sex. I just wish there was a way to educate young and old without having to read a ridiculous, exploitative forgery like Go Ask Alice.
This was written by Nancy Reagan* as propaganda for her "Just Say NO" anti-drugs campaign. It contains every single cliche about how making friends with anyone whose social life doesn't involve Christian youth clubs will inevitably lead to the sort of parties where teenagers can drink beer and have a puff of a joint and it is downhill all the way from there.
Drugs lead to getting in with a bad crowd, having sex, stealing, dealing, prostitution, homelessness and insanity! Only the pastor can save her. But no, once she is persuaded to go home, those good old non-drug taking, Christian hometown folks are visiting the sins of the daughter on the parents with social isolation and threats, so eventually they move to a new town. A new beginning, nah... we all know you can't escape drugs when you start on the slippery slope of that first puff and it will end badly.
An overdose, death. Inevitably... predictably.
You'd think that the book would be much praised by the sort of ultra-conservative parents who actually believe in this kind of crap, but no, every year it makes the list of the most-challenged books. So Nancy Reagan* didn't succeed with this particular element of her campaign.
*I lied, it wasn't written by Nancy Reagan. It was written by the author Beatrice Sparks who lived in Utah (clue?) and worked in the State Mental hospital. She also wrote another "true" diary, Jay's Journal about how getting involved in the occult led to suicide, another one on a kid's life on the streets, one about a single, pregnant, teenage girl, all supposedly based on real diaries. There might even have been more.
I was going to shelve this book on my Crap Authors or Unreadable Books shelves, but actually in a kind of train-wreck way it was rather enjoyable. It's also worth seeing the film if you can, it's so B movie that it's great fun. I was stoned when I watched it, I think that added considerably to my enjoyment.
I first read this book in sixth grade. When I tell people this, they usually look at me in an appalled fashion, and ask if my parents knew I was reading it. And I tell them, yes, my mother knew, before I was even finished with the first entry. I had/ have a tendency to talk openly with my mother, especially upon the topic of books. When she saw that I was reading it, she looked at me a moment, then said something along the lines of: "Rachel, if you weren't such a mature reader/person, I would tell you not to read that book." And so, I read it, and felt deeply moved. But what does this have to do with GO ASK ALICE? Everything. Though I suggest that Everyone read this book, I do agree with my mother, that for certain reasons, the reader must be mature enough to digest this true story of a girl, and not mock it or pull its lines to pieces with sayings such as: "like this would happen" or "whatever". They must look within the depths of this girl's words, and try to understand what she was feeling as she wrote them. Through drugs, befriending a BP, rape, and horrible circumstances that make you see things differently, this girl pours out her soul to her diary, and eventually, to the world. In conclusion, I feel that I should make it known that it is not most important to reflect soaly (sp?) upon the book in any review, but the impact that it has upon the individual. A year after having first read GO ASK ALICE, I was stunned to find that somebody, perhaps the school library, had white-outed many of the words, either curse words, or one's not 'deemed fit' for the student to read. And I couldn't help but wonder, if they are going to alter the story in such a fashion, why not just pull the books off the shelf intirely, because with things 'censored' out, what use is the book then, without its full impact and meaning?
First published in 1971, Go Ask Alice is a controversial book involving teenage addiction. It's written in first person in traditional diary form. We don't know the troubled teenage girls name but we follow her rapid descent into her life as an addict.
"Anonymous" is a lonely teenager who feels like she will never live up to the expectations of her parents. She struggles with self-esteen issues, loneliness, etc. On top of that her family has now moved and she's having trouble making new friends. But things go from bad to worse beginning the night she's at a party and someone spikes her drink with LSD.
She likes the feeling the drugs give her and feels like they take the "edge" off. She doesn't feel so insecure and lonely when she's high. It's not long before she's experimenting with more and more drugs and it starts affecting all areas of her life. Her life quickly spins out of control.
I've read quite a few really good books about addiction and this is one book that I will never forget. I'm not sure if it was my age at the time or some of the things happening around me or both but it really had an impact on me.
As it was written in the 70's there will of course be some dated refrences (I didn't know until recently that the title of the book was taken from the Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit"). It was also made into a movie in 1973.
When I read it years ago, I thought it was a true story. However there has been a lot of debate over how much of it (if any) is actually true. It's been under criticism for many reasons. Some say it was written by a psychologist about one of her patients, but greatly exaggerated. Even if it's entirely fictional I still took something away from it. We are all entitled to our opinions and I understand some may not like it. In my opinion if someone learns something from it then I'm happy they read it.
Yes, times have changed and drugs themselves have changed. But the one thing that hasn't changed is that addiction can still ruin lives the way it always has.
Bwaaah. So disappointing. Some of my co-workers were discussing this book at lunch one day, and I remembered being super curious about it when I was younger, but for some reason never got around to it. Unfortunately for my enjoyment of the book, I did some digging before reading it. I see on Goodreads that the author is not credited as "Anonymous" (as it still is on the cover of the book), but Beatrice Sparks. On the book, Sparks is listed as the editor, but a preface still states it is the real diary of a real teenager. Now there are three possibilities here, 1. Sparks has the most depressing job ever, surrounding by teens facing fatal distasters, but always keeping a diary about it, 2. Sparks stalks especially literate high-risk children across the country, 3. Sparks totally made it all up. Go Ask Alice is one of about seven diaries of anonymous teenagers edited by Sparks (with Jay's Journal even having the same cover, but with a boy instead), who also is apparently a Mormon youth counselor. SO, unsurprisingly, there's a bit of an agenda going on, with the plot lines seeming a little to hyperbolic and a pretty obvious anti-hippie/free love vibe throughout the book (and a bizarre and troubling underlying theme of drug use causing homosexual desires and behavior, which is later regretted and seen as intensely shameful and dirty).
So, if the events of the book are not true, it robs it of the punch at the end of the book. But maybe if it's written really well, it would be redeeming. Sadly, no. This is a book written by an adult, I suppose, trying to sound like a teenager. Apparently, teenagers use the phrasing "I do, I really, truly do!," "I want to, I would really, really, want to!," a LOT, as well as an excrutiating number of sacchrine adjectives and adverbs (along the lines of "Daddy is such a lovely, sweet, caring, lovely, lovely Daddy!"). Ugh.
Some reviews I've read also attack the diarist as exceptionally weak, self-pitying, and self-absorbed, with no willingness to change her circumstances. I didn't have a problem with her characterization, however, since a kid would likely have self-esteem issues in order to be tempted into the lifestyle that she had. Also, this is supposed to be a diary, where someone would reveal their thoughts, fears, and flaws, without really trying to defend themselves. I can't imagine a diary that I wrote in middle school would be free of weakness or self-absorption.
I suppose there was an underlying noble cause in wanting to scare kids off drugs motivating the creation of this book, so it has some sort of value. But at least from my experience, kids read this book and were freaked out in around 5th grade, a while before they would even have an interest in drugs (contrary to Go Ask Alice, 10 year olds do not generally sell LSD to elementary school kids in upper-middle-class suburban neighborhoods). Once kids got to the age where they would be tempted to use drugs, the scariness of the book had faded, and it was more of a "hey, remember that crazy book we read when we were little?" The unrealistically exaggerated plot lines also probably distances kids from relating the diarist's lessons to their own lives.
I guess what I'm getting at is the hoax in authorship robs the book of the punch delivered in the epilogue (which is itself given away by reading the summary on the back of the book, amateurs), which would be the only poignant/jarring aspect of the book. The rest is simply drug scare tactics written poorly. If you don't have authenticity to rely on, you need something else to carry your book.
My daughter read this book. I was ready to freak out - This book is way too graphic for an 11 year old. I was composing a letter to the middle school librarian who allowed her to check this book out. I was preparing a lecture for Ashley about what is and is not appropriate for a child to read. Then Ashley came to me and started talking about drugs. She started talking about the things that kids say about drugs at school. She told me that she and her best friend had a teary talk about how sad the book was, and how easy it was for the author to fall into the drug lifestyle. They made a vow to always be honest with each other and to always have each others backs. They vowed to speak up if they see the other making bad choices. I'm glad that she read the book. It was such a great starting point for a tough talk.
I couldn't even finish this book. I found it a real boring drag, even though it's only a novella. I tried so hard to get through it, I kept thinking surely it must get better... but it didn't. I couldn't stand the narrator, I felt no connection with her and despised most of her views. My eyes skipped through paragraphs in a desperate bid to get past extremely boring parts... only to find they continued throughout the book. It wasn't a very good diary, you didn't seem to get a proper look inside the person's head and you couldn't sympathise with them. Every time something went wrong, I wanted to strangle the girl for being so damn pathetic... staying in bed for days because she lost her virginity - seriously, grow up. I didn't come away feeling that I gained anything or experienced a good story, the supposed message about drugs was mixed. I know the allure of this book comes from the fact that it's a true story and someone's actual diary, well maybe they should have discarded the original and made one up because, true or not, this girl and her endless self-pity just made me sick. I suppose there's always the possibility that the ending would have stolen my heart for being so incredible, but I honestly don't feel any regret at never finding out.
I read this for the first time in college as part of a reading-intensive young adult lit class, and it was the worst of the many, many books we read. For one girl in the class, it was the only book of the many, many we read that she actually liked, solely because it was the only one she morally approved of (man, how she loathed Weetzie Bat). She went on to become our slacker school's valedictorian. She was a poet and used the word "tapestry" too much in her writing. I think all of this is quite reason enough to stay away from this book.
On July 10, she was secretly dosed with LSD at a party. By July 20, she was using intravenous drugs. By September she had bought a leather fringed vest, and it was all over.
"This was the scene, these were the swingers, and I wanted to be a part of it!"
So it goes in this 1971 classic of hysterical anti-drug malarkey. Within a few months our unnamed heroine has been gang raped on heroin; shortly after that, she's become a "Priestess of Satan" and drugs have literally "took her the homo route." That's a quote. Drugs make you gay, kids.
Go Ask Alice - marketed as a real teen's diary - was actually written by Beatrice Sparks, a Mormon youth therapist who lied about her PhD and wholly invented this story, as well as many other insane fake teen journals about things like Satanism and AIDS. It contains every ludicrous canard trotted out by the direly lame anti-drug crusaders throughout the 70s and 80s, and was required reading for two generations of kids who learned that school was not going to be the right place to learn anything useful about drugs. Secretly LSD-laced candy that makes you freak out, planted by "the grass gang" as revenge for you going square? Why yes, that's here. Teens pushing drugs to nine-year-olds on playgrounds? "Another day, another blowjob"? Acid trips that lead directly to mental institutions? Yep, yep and yep. And did I mention that drugs make you gay?
As a book, it's...hard to judge, really, because it's so distractingly inauthentic. It's sortof entertaining, in an "Oh no she didn't!" way, and it doesn't outstay its welcome. It's terribly written, but literary quality doesn't even seem relevant here. As a time capsule of the supersquare anti-drug efforts of the 70s and 80s and why they were such an abject failure, it's perfect.
I just wish it had been more specific about where she got that leather fringed vest. It sounds sweet.
This book is pretty silly & most likely a work of complete fiction. It was written back when conservatives thought they needed to fictionalize drug abuse in order to frighten teenagers. Luckily, this is a new millenium & most of us know what crack whores look like or have known people whose lives have been ruined by drugs. Most kids read this book at a young age & find it too thrilling to realize it's anti-drug propaganda. If you're not convinced that Go Ask Alice is fiction, read another "diary" that Beatrice Sparks has edited, like Jay's Journal, which is so ridiculous, even 12-year-olds can see that it's poorly written fiction.
Go Ask Alice, Beatrice Sparks In 1968, a 15-year-old girl begins keeping a diary, in which she records her thoughts and concerns about issues such as crushes, weight loss, sexuality, social acceptance, and relating to her parents. The dates and locations mentioned in the book place its events as occurring between 1968 and 1970 in California, Colorado, Oregon, and New York City. The two towns in which the diarist's family reside during the story are not identified, and are only described as being college towns. ...
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفدهم ماه آوریل سال 2018 میلادی عنوان: برو از آلیس گمنام بپرس: یک کتاب فوقالعاده، نوشتهای از واقعیات دردناک؛ نویسنده گمنام؛ مترجم: مصطفی (مجید) کاربخش؛ تهران: مصطفی کاربخش راوری، 1382؛ در 168 ص؛ شابک: 9640642835؛ عنوان: خاطرات آلیس؛ نویسنده: ناشناس؛ مترجم: علیرضا طباطبایی؛ تهران : نشر آبی، 1386؛ در 195 ص؛ شابک: 9645709822؛
کتاب حاضر یادمانهای دختر پانزده ساله ی معتادی، در ک��ور آمریکاست، که خانواده ای با موقعیت اجتماعی بالا داشته، و به ظاهر مرفه بوده است. دختر در آغاز دوره ی جوانی، و بحرانهای آن، تنها محرم اسرارش، همین دفتر خاطرات بوده است. وی به شدت در دام مواد مخدر افتاده، و در مدرسه همه او را، به عنوان یک معتاد، و فروشنده ی مواد میشناسند. بر اثر حادثه ای، به وسیله ی پلیس دستگیر میشود، و آنها او را برای نجات از اعتیاد، و مشاوره، به یک تیمارستان، تحویل میدهند. دخترک ساعات مشاوره و روانپزشکی بسیاری را گذرانده، و مجددا به خانه بازمیگردد. خانواده، توجه بیشتری به او معطوف میکنند، اما اعتیاد همچنان ادامه دارد. تا روزی که او تصمیم میگیرد، دست از نوشتن خاطرات بردارد. درست سه هفته پس از این تصمیم، هنگامی که پدر و مادرش، از سینما به خانه برمیگردند، او را مرده مییابند. آنها به پلیس و بیمارستان خبر میدهند، اما اینکار حاصلی ندارد، چرا که دیگر کسی نمیتوانست کاری انجام بدهد. ...؛ ا. شربیانی
What drug you would have to be on to believe that this was a real diary?
Maybe Squeaky Clean Jesus Powder.
And yes, this is coming from someone who has never done drugs, and believes strongly in the illegality and deleterious effects of all drugs, including (and in some cases especially) marijuana.
I cannot tell you how much I hate the hypocrisy of missionary efforts like this one. "Oh, here's an idea! I'll wrap my didactic message in a 'true' story! My lies are sanctified by the holiness of my crusade against drugs/satanism/homosexuality. God hates these things, therefore God is on my side!"
I love the part where Miss Anonymous Narrator from this true true true story forgets whether her pet, Happiness, is a cat or a dog. Beatrice Sparks, may you burn in the flaming pits of heck.
ETA: Oh, Mormonism. I try to respect you. Really, I do. I so admire the early work of Orson Scott Card. The work you did rebuilding New Orleans deserves nothing but praise. Your 'wholesome family values' are cloying and myopic, but decent rules to live by, for the most part.
I try so hard to think of you as a real religion, and not a crazy cult full of God-blinded chumps being preyed on by a few vicious frauds.
But then you pull something like THIS BOOK.
Really? Stephenie Meyer AND Beatrice Sparks? What is it that you DO to your female authors? Why do they think it's alright to lie in interviews?
I was feeling sort of shame-faced about bringing up the heavy-handed plugs for Mormon theology (Mormon concept of 'resurrection,' insistence on eternal families.) I don't usually like bringing up a religion just to criticize. I took this line out of an early version of this review: "Sparks, you are every bit as bad as the straight-laced missionaries who show up at my door with a sales pitch and a smile and a watered-down version of their religion specifically crafted to be palatable to non-believers like me."
But then I read the wikipedia article on Beatrice Sparks.
Sparks was entrusted with the true diary of a genuinely suicidal boy, but rather than editing it and printing it as the family wished, she used it as a platform for her personal crusade against satanism-- which the boy was not involved in. Needless to say, a horrific violation of trust, and a flat refusal to offer anything but trite, simplistic answers in the face of monumental grief and loss.
She then went on to become a TEACHER employed by Brigham Young University-- the church's cornerstone for cranking out more good Mormons, despite the fact that she habitually lied about her educational background (she advertized herself as a PhD, which she did not have) and her counseling credentials (she had none, and yet became a youth counselor.)
Please tell me wiki is wrong, because this smacks of something wrong at the very top.
I really feel I ought to smoke a joint now, just to distance myself from such narrow-minded, groupthink pablum. My rating is for my sense of violation and because the author is an embarrassment to everything she stands for, not because the writing is expressly atrocious.
An interesting one to review. I've read this book three or four times, beginning when I was about ten -- I was enthralled by it then, completely invested in 'Alice' and devastated yet fascinated by the downward spiral of her life. At that time in my life it was easily a five-star book, especially because it was a true story (!).
Of course I later learned that it's a fictional book, presumably written to scare kids off drugs. I don't actually have an issue with that message, though I'm not sure that tricking someone into believing a person existed is the ideal way to go about that. If I'd known as a kid that the book was essentially a lie, I think I would have felt quite betrayed, though luckily by the time I found this out it had been quite a while since I'd last read it.
I do think there is some value to it, for the right age group, but it's dated of course, and doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. Knowing it is fiction makes it feel quite hypocritical in some ways and I'm unsure how I feel about it now. However, I'm leaving the four-star rating because, while I can't bring myself to give it five, it did have an undeniable effect on me in my early years, and really meant a lot to me.
I think the book has a lot of good intentions and means well, but it seems odd to try and pass this off as something other than a novel (I'm not sure about more recent copies, but mine is insistent that Alice was real, this is her real diary, her real life etc). It made me a little paranoid when I was younger, the shocking ease of how someone could get you addicted to drugs and then before you know your entire life has fallen apart -- I know this can happen, but obviously this book doesn't actually have any real authenticity to it anymore, which kind of takes away it's power. There are probably many better books available to teach kids/teens about drugs, the risks etc, but this is the one I read! For all its faults, at least you could use it as a conversation starter of sorts.
Sorry the rather mixed, slightly rambling review, I suppose I'm torn about this one. It used be a very meaningful book to me, but I'm honestly unsure if I would recommend it -- at least not without drawing attention to the issues I mentioned above.
Updated: I recently watched the TV movie adaptation. I found the film disjointed and less compelling than the book. It removed or toned down the most interesting parts. I felt for the actress, who was clearly trying her best, to little avail as the material feels false and forced, which makes sense given what we now know about the 'diary'. I spent the entire film waiting for William Shatner to show up, only to realise he'd been in it the entire time, as Alice's father. I'm still embarrassed about this, though in my defense the picture resolution was poor.
I have a copy of Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson to read soon and am looking forward to learning more about the background of the author - although I know the story behind Jay's Journal is much more appalling than the one for this book. At least "Alice" was merely a fictional creation, perhaps inspired by real people or more likely, rumours of real people, rather than a cruel misuse of a real life with added fictional Satanism to make it more shocking.
Popsugar Challenge 2021 - A book that was published anonymously
'It's a good thing people bleed on the inside or this would be a gory, blood smeared earth'
Published in 1971 there's always been a bit of controversy surrounding this book. It was pitched as the real diary of a 15 year old drug addict however since there have been claims of the diary being amended or that its full fiction written for the purposes of educating a YA audience of the dangers of drugs. Bottom line, we don't know either way.
It has also been banned multiple times in multiple countries and states over the decades due to content.
Regardless of all that this diary really hit my heart. Alice is an average 15 year old girl who fills her diary with her struggle with her weight, her relationship with her parents and keeping the 'establishment' happy and the complicated relationships that at formed at school. I could relate to Alice so much, I think most people can look back at their teenage years and see some of Alice in themselves. She's all of us.
When Alice goes to a party of a school friend and her drink is spiked with LSD nothing is ever the same again.
Written in diary form there is no consistency, sometimes there's an entry every day and then nothing for weeks. There's blanks and unexplained events and entries without any context but the reader gets the jist loud and clear.
Everything we see is through Alice's eyes, its as unreliable as any diary can be and it tore my heart out.
I can absolutely see why this was the inspiration for Thirteen Reasons Why.
Fiction or non fiction this is a book that is going to stay with me.
This book has it all: Teen sex, preteen whores, gay and lesbian sex (not looked upon favorably), drug usage of all types, rape, hippies, communes, hitchhiking, lecherous bohemians, wild parties, drug pushing to 9-year-old grade-school kids, Berkeley burnouts, surreal drug dreams, lots of imagery involving death and maggots, teen vengeance and peer/herd cruelty and vicious rumor-mongering, babies in peril, cats spun in washing machines, girls in an insane asylum, menstruation and teen pregnancy issues, glue sniffing, body image woes and purging, and references to fucking as "balling," a term which fell out of usage to that effect approximately in the fall of 1974.
And for all of that - FOR ALL OF THAT! - the book is a BORE!
I mean, what can you say? We all know this thing is a fake; and passages such as the one where her dad cites statistics on VD and suicide and other social ills and somehow she manages to remember and write them down verbatim hours later in the "diary" kind of give the thing away.
I like the attempt at "authentic" touches, eg.: "Everyone knows that sex and shit* go together," with the asterisked "shit" referenced at the page bottom as "*drugs" just in case the shocked adults aren't hip to the diarist's youthful lingo.
The writing style goes from the goo-goo-ga-ga golly gee-willikers level to the usage of more sophisticated words such as "nary" and "woebegone" at the drop of a hat.
I am wondering how, when our diarist heroine was in the gutter and writing her diary entries on paper bags and such, she managed to maintain the clarity of mind to actually stow away these inconvenient pages to get them pasted back into the diary. And, presuming that she kept the diary with her (since she had it with her on all her travels, based on the dates and locales) -- and based on the fact that the diary is said to have not been filled -- why she would need to use scraps of other kinds of paper at all. (Methinks the REAL author has trapped herself in her own dramatic license... The Hercule Poirot in me, folks.)
The boffo bleak abrupt ending is probably what takes the wind out of most readers' sails. The book is a cautionary exploitation classic in the grand tradition -- with Gramps and Granmamma and gingerbread men and Christmas trees and God and Holy Matrimony and virginity always imperiled by the lurking dark menace ever at hand. It's one of those books where LSD and pot are put on the same level to create guilt by association, as in the sentence: "Anyone who says pot and acid are not addicting are foolish!" In fact, our woebegone gal tries all the hard substances first, but it's pot that throws her over the edge. Riiiiigghhttt...
I'm giving the thing two stars for sociological interest and for at least being a fast-enough read to not have wasted too much of my life.
Go Ask Alice is one of the least believable fake diaries I have ever read. The protagonist is so robotic and idiotic and rings false at every turn.
This story is also just clearly meant as a “don't do drugs, or you will die” cautionary tale. The character actually ends the book resolved to drop her drug addiction, and then dies at the end. I take issue with this form of narrative punishment; I prefer stories where characters make mistakes and yet persevere. This story would be more powerful as a story about redemption.
I also take issue with this entire scheme. Don't write fake diaries as anti-drug propaganda. Is fearmongering really the best way to solve drug problems? I think not.
The only reason I read this book is because I thought it was an autobiography. When I finished reading it, I did some research and found out that it was not a real diary. Now that I know it isn't a true story, I don't really have anything good to say about it.
It really bothered me that the author said it was a real teenagers diary, when really it was just a work of fiction. The author was clearly trying to scare people with this book. When I was reading the book, the only redeeming quality was the fact that I thought it was a real story. While I read it though I did question the authenticity of the "diary". First of all it just seemed unlikely that a drug addict would constantly write in a diary and keep it with her all the time. Secondly, it didn't sound like it was a 15 year old's diary. Even when she wasn't on drugs, it just didn't sound right to me. Halfway through I wanted to stop reading because I was so bored and I was skimming but I kept going so I could find out what happened and also so I could give it a negative review.
The message I got from the author was - "don't do drugs ever. Don't even do them once because then you'll get wrapped up in that world and you'll get raped and abused and beaten and once you decide to get clean, drug users will track you down, bully you, beat you, rape you, drug you and you'll land in a hospital with horrific injuries and then land in a mental hospital. You will be marked for the rest of your life and then you will die because of drugs. Don't do drugs ever. And don't have sex before marriage."
I do think drugs can ruin lives. It was only here a few weeks ago that a young girl died from taking ecstasy. But this book didn't do anything productive. If it scared people out of doing drugs, I suppose that's a plus but for me, it was not a good book and it didn't have a positive clear message. The one good thing (I suppose) about this book was that it told teens that it is okay to speak to someone if you're in trouble.
“It's a good thing most people bleed on the inside or this would be a gory, blood-smeared earth.” ― Beatrice Sparks, Go Ask Alice
Man. This book.
Somehow, I have never gotten around to reading Go Ask Alice before. I knew of it but all I really knew is that it is considered a classic , was anonymous and was about a teenage girl's descent into addiction. That's it.
I did not anticipate liking it all that much. I was wrong. I have had a tough time concentrating on reading lately, with the corona virus. I picked this up last night, intending to read a few pages and wound up finishing the whole thing. It is not very long either.
It was nowhere close to what I expected. I guess I thought I'd open up the book and Anonymous would already be deep into addiction. I imagined a real gritty read that wouldn't be easy to follow. I was wrong.
When we meet Alice, she is a young and wistful girl, popping with vitality, brimming with innocence with a somewhat child like and earnest world view. I adored her by the second or third page.
Her transition into darkness is so real. I mean I know many have said, in their reviews, that it feels to fast and that makes it feel unreal. But I felt it read very authentically. I have never struggled with drug addiction but have known so many..many of whom are still in my life..who have. I have lost people to it, either to mental illness or to death or just to oblivion. I know of nobody..absolutely nobody..who has not had someone in their life with these struggles.
So it all felt natural to me and heart breaking. I cannot say this book was "enjoyable" but it was deeply moving and now I wish I had read it year s ago.
There were two things I did not know. One: I did not know about the controversy. I did not know this true story might be fake. I frankly do not think it READS as fake at all. If the person many speak of having wrote it, did in fact write it, wouldn't there be more about the evils of rock music? Look at the time period it came out in. I am not convinced this is not authentic and even if it turned out it isn't, there are many an Alice across the planet, that I would have been moved and rated it the same anyway.
The second thing I did not now. I did not expect to end the book, with a smile on my face thinking Alice was on her way to recovery, only to read the epilogue and find out she died three weeks after her sunny "see ya" to her diary. That was a crushing moment. I cried. It lent the book so much power and I have to say it hit me like a ton of bricks. Excellent book.
I think the older one is the more they will like the book as having more life experience, absolutely causes you to think more in regards to this type of book.
In closing..a powerful cautionary tale and one that wound up being way more powerful and better than I ever thought. 4.5 stars. Read it if you haven't.
Though purported to be the real diary of a 15-year-old girl who became addicted to drugs during the 1960's, Go Ask Alice is actually a work of fiction.
The narrator unknowingly takes LSD (acid) at a party and has a great trip. She is instantly addicted and a few weeks later, she is willingly sucking down any and every drug she can get. Come on!
While I am certainly not an advocate of drug use, there is no scientific evidence that LSD is addictive--or marijuana, another key ingredient the narrator's downfall. Can a bad trip be permanently dangerous to a person's sanity? Absolutely. But the sheer speed of the narrator's descent into addiction is laughable. And there is a scene where she describes shooting up speed and then in the next sentence worrying about how dangerous pot is. I just didn't buy it.
While the pure drama of all the bad stuff that happens to the narrator after she runs away from home (and continues after she returns home) will surely appeal to teens, Go Ask Alice is not a realistic or even a particularly well-written account of the life of an addict. It amuses me that this book regularly appears on banned book lists because it's purpose is not to encourage drug use; just the opposite.
For readers looking for similar books with a less preachy feel, try these:
Crank - Ellen Hopkins Glass - Ellen Hopkins Smack - Melvin Burgess St. Iggy - K.L. Going Beauty Queen - Linda Glovach Crosses - Shelley Stoehr Candy - Luke Davies (extremely graphic)
This book is something every kid should read before high school. The main character is slipped LSD and hooked on drugs. As she becomes an addict, her diary explains her deepest fears and thoughts. The truth in stories can be scary.
I don’t know if this is a true diary or fiction, but if it is fiction some of it is not far from the truth some people experience. Due to the style, form and plot I can imagine that this is one of those either ‘you love it or hate it’ books, which I’d say is great as long as there is something to discuss in it. The style of writing is not my favourite, and due to the diary structure there are too many questions left open. In addition, the given dates and the progress of the diary writer���s addiction do not make complete sense to me as everything seems to happen within a rather short period of time. But the descriptions of the protagonist’s experiences that let her spiral downward are clear and did not leave me cold. 4 out of 5 stars.
In my opinion GO ASK ALICE is a very realistic book. Because it was written and published in 1971 you have to forgive the book being a generation behing in coolness, if you will. However, coolness is not what GO ASK ALICE is about. This diary style written book is a story of a 15 year old girl who goes through the trials and tribulations of the basic teenager who throughout the book remain anonymous. Anon finds her diary to be her only friend and confides in it for almost 2 years. During this time she goes through truly horrific experiences.
There are a total of two diaries total and the end of the book is completely left unexplained. I wish that would have been more clear. Obviously, if this really is based on a true diary and Anon decided not to continue to write anymore, we would not know but I don't believe that Anon had a relapse. I just wish there would have been some more of the diary.
I hope that the kids in this generation won't let the verbage in GO ASK ALICE turn them off to reading this book because it's very informal and should really be read in it's entirety. I have read reviews that a lot of kids quit the book or that it's fake, etc.
This is for those people:
1. Read the book completely and we'll talk.
2. Have you been there? Yes, I mean right up in the middle of an acid trip. Good or bad. Smoked a doobie? Snorted a line? Shot up some heroin? Candy-flipped? Ate a handful of shrooms?
3. Don't judge or talk about things unless you REALLY know what you're talking about.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.