Kirk's Reviews > Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
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bookshelves: medium-warm

When I was a child I used to slip into my mother's paperbacks late at night when no one was looking. This was one of the first books I gobbled up, in part because my babysitters (who would now be in their fifties) had me mystified by this thing called adolescence. In all honesty, I was drawn at eight or nine by Alice's drug use, sex, and profanity. (There's a certain seven-letter compound word that I learned from the book---only back then it was two words). I pretty much thought this was what happened to you as a teenager---you ran away from home, got hooked on smack, became a prostitute, and OD'd. It sounded very romantic during the gray days of Nixon.

Flash forward nearly thirty years and I'm hired to write a book about coming-of-age novels. I went back and reread this. It now strikes me as a period piece, very much like an afterschool special of the same era (i.e. DAWN: PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE RUNAWAY). The slang has a trippy, MOD SQUAD feel. It's authenticity has also come into dispute since the early 70s. Beatrice Sparks may not have simply "discovered" the diary as the story claimed but may have actually written some passages. It'll be a great mystery for some literary detective to solve should the original manuscript---supposedly sequestered in the publisher's vault---ever surface.

As for the book itself, it reads like a template for the contemporary young-adult "problem" novel. I can respect its historical importance, but I'm too old to take the TAKE DRUGS, YOU DIE message seriously or to be moved emotionally by it.

Historical trivia: there was a made-for-TV movie version of the book, c. 73-74, starring none other than William Shatner as Alice's father. The Shat even has a full-blown, 70s era mustache that would have made John Holmes envious.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 1973 – Finished Reading
December 19, 2007 – Shelved
December 19, 2007 – Shelved as: medium-warm

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Edmund Davis-Quinn The TV movie sounds hilarious.


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