Go Ask Aliceby Published 01 Jan 2006
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Go Ask Alice Ebook Description
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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 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.
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.
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.
- They told me to go ask you.
- Ask me what?
- Ah... I guess, should I do drugs?
- Well, how would I know? I'm just a made-up girl in a piece of anti-drugs propaganda that somehow became more famous than it deserved.
- Hey, don't be like that. I meant, if you actually had existed, then what would you have said?
The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)
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).