Go Ask Aliceby Published 01 Jan 2006
|Go Ask Alice.pdf|
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.
Read her diary.
Enter her world.
You will never forget her.
Go Ask Alice Reviews
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.)
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.
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.
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.