Meredith's Reviews > Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
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did not like it

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.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 5, 2008 – Shelved
June 5, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Edmund Davis-Quinn The ending feels tacked on and ridiculous. As fiction would have been more interesting to keep the redemption story.

Mothernature Sorry to bother....but i want to read this book and i can't....what do I do???

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