Bibliographic information: Go Ask Alice. Anonymous. Prentice-Hall, 1971. $17.99. 192p. ISBN-13: 9780671664589.
Summary: A fifteen year old girl keeps a diary of everything she is feeling and what she does with her day. She starts out by telling us about all sorts of issues, such as crushes, weight loss, sexuality, social acceptance, and her difficulty relating to her parents. She wants to make her parents happy more than anything and they don’t think she gets out enough with friends, she is always cooped up in her room. When her father accepts a new job in a new city they move, and the girl feels like even more of an outcast, without any friends. She eventually finds a friend, Beth, and they become best friends. Beth leaves for summer camp, so the girl goes to stay with her grandparents in her old town and reunites with an old schoolmate, Jill, who finds it cool that the girl is living in a big city. Jill invites her to a party and the girl accepts because it’s nice to be accepted. At the party the girl is given a drink, that is unknowingly laced with LSD, and ends up having an intense drug trip that she finds pleasurable. And this is the start of an up and down roller coaster of drug addiction for the girl.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 9 and up
Review: Supposedly based on an actual diary written by a fifteen year old girl struggling with drug addiction, this book should be a Lifetime special. This book is highly controversial and has been since it first came out in 1971. The name of the girl was never given in the book, we just get to see life through her eyes and how hard it was for her to fit in to society. She wants to be perfect for her parents, but can’t seem to get it right. After she tried the drugs once, she couldn’t seem to stop no matter how many times she decided she was going to. She was constantly being pulled back into the drug world by a craving she couldn’t overcome. Also, she appeared to be under a lot of pressure and the drugs helped her feel light and carefree. But she always suffered the consequences, until it was finally too much. The girl comes off as very realistic and believable. It is hard not to feel a little sorry for her. Although, this is a great book against drug use and the details of the writer are amazing, especially for a fifteen year old, which makes you wonder about the author. Something every teen should read.
Readers’ annotation: She never experienced a drug trip before, but now she can’t get enough of it. How could something so bad for you, be so powerful?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The girl is struggling under the pressure to be the perfect daughter and student, but she can’t handle the pressure and is sucked into the world of drugs and it creates the downfall for her. Teens will be able to relate to the girls troubles and her struggles and they will be able to understand that drugs are not the answer and they should choose a different path. If they are feeling pressured and can’t hold the weight, they should talk to somebody about their troubles rather than despair under the weight of it all.
Issues present: Contains heavy drug use, some alcohol, smoking, sex, and vulgar language as well. Some parents or teachers might be against these issues and not want their teen to read this book. However, we see the bad side of these substances and are shown what will happen if you were to become addicted to drugs. Teens will be able to learn from this book and understand that drugs are not to be used.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce the girl’s character.
Compare the girl before and after the drugs.
The first time she tried them she was hooked.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: drug abuse
Readalikes: Ellen Hopkins books, Jay’s Journal, Beauty Queen, My Name is Cloe, A Not-so-simple Life
Author’s website: Anonymous author, that was supposedly a fifteen year old girl who kept a diary of her adventures into the world of drugs. Beatrice Sparks is reported to be the author/editor, but this is not marked in the book anywhere so I can’t be sure whether it is true or not. Sparks apparently is the author/editor of several books like Go Ask Alice, such as Jay’s Journal, Treacherous Love: The Diary of an Anonymous Teenager, Almost Lost: The True Story of an Anonymous Teenager’s Life on the Streets, Annie’s Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager and It Happened to Nancy: By an Anonymous Teenager. and is given credit for this one as well. I could not find an official webpage for her.
Awards: Winner of YALSA 100 Best Books Awards 1950-2000 (2002)
Reviews: Commonsense media: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/go-ask-alice; Teen Ink: http://teenink.com/reviews/book_reviews/article/56564/Go-Ask-Alice-by-Anonymous/
Why I chose it: I have always been interested in Go Ask Alice because I had heard so many mixed reviews on it from friends and co-workers. So I took the opportunity to read it for this blog.