Title: Go Ask Alice
192 pages, published by Simon Pulse
Buy The Book:Amazon
COULD BE ANYONE.
COULD BE SOMEONE YOU KNOW.
With over a million copies in print, Go Ask Alice has become a classic of our time. This powerful real-life diary of a teenager’s struggle with the seductive — often fatal — world of drugs and addiction tells the truth about drugs in strong and authentic voice. Tough and uncompromising, honest and disturbing — and even more poignant today — Go Ask Alice is page-turning and provocative reading. (Summary provided by Simon Pulse.)
Today I am taking part in Banned Books Week being hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey. Keep reading after the discussion for info about how you can win a Banned Books Week prize package.
The following review contains major spoilers regarding the book Go Ask Alice. Read at your own risk!
I chose to re-read Go Ask Alice by Anonymous for Banned Books Week. I first read Go Ask Alice as a seventh grader attending a Catholic junior-senior high school. The book was located in the school library, and I remember being blown away by the young girl’s story of sex, drugs, and rebellion. I know now how truly remarkable it was that the school I attended happened to have Go Ask Alice among its library shelves, and I am thankful that it was there.
I remember being captivated by Alice’s diary, and at the time I truly believed I was reading the real diary of a troubled, young girl. (Now it is widely believed to have been written by Beatrice Sparks. Click here for more information regarding controversy surrounding the authorship of Go Ask Alice.) Alice’s frank discussion of drug usage and sex both fascinated and scared me. Go Ask Alice is the cautionary tale to end all cautionary tales: The author is reported to have died three weeks after the last diary entry. This totally freaked twelve-year-old me out! I did not want to be like Alice who, by the end of the diary, was doing her best to stay off drugs and she still died!
I re-read Go Ask Alice this week in preparation for this post. The last time I read the book I was an impressionable teen. Reading the book as an adult (with the added knowledge that a teen more than likely did not actually write the “diary”) was a completely different experience. I viewed it more as a glimpse into the late 60s, early 70s. Little things like Alice using orange juice concentrate containers to curl her hair and the “groovy” slang she used throughout the book made me feel nostalgic. I didn’t find the drug usage and sex nearly as shocking as I did when I was twelve. Instead, I paid attention to the structure of the diary.
Alice goes on and on at length after each drug relapse about the dangers of drugs. Alice describes briefly opening a boutique with one of her friends when she runs away from home to California. (I feel terrible admitting I laughed out loud when I read this part the other night. Maybe it was a simpler time in the late 60s and super easy to open a boutique? Maybe it is a teen exaggerating her misadventures? Who knows?) Alice also wants to become a counselor and counsel kids about the evils of drugs. She discusses statistics. She describes in detail the way the drug crowd at school terrorizes her when she decides to get off drugs. While I think all of this could certainly happen, something seemed off. I definitely think an adult wrote it as a sort of warning to teens to stay away from drugs. I am also lead to wonder if modern teens with Google at their fingertips will be as likely as I was at age twelve to believe Alice really existed. I hope they are…
When I began re-reading Go Ask Alice it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t view the book with the same awe and wonder that I did when I was twelve. However, I remember this book having a huge impact on me when I read it in junior high. I remember crying for Alice at the end of the book. I definitely had her story in the back of my mind when I encountered similar situations to those that Alice faced in the book, and I proceeded with caution. This is clearly a book that can make a difference with young people. Teens are the ones who need to read Go Ask Alice. Obviously, I understand some parents may not want their teens to read books with lots of drug usage and casual sex. In turn, those same parents need to understand that if they don’t want their child to read such books it is their job to preview their child’s reading material not the schools’ job.
Leave a comment on this post to enter to win a Banned Books Week prize pack. One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to win a Banned Books Week t-shirt (men’s size large) and Banned Books Week book marks (pictured below)! Entries for the contest will be accepted until midnight CST on Tuesday, October 9th and I’ll announce the winner within this post sometime Tuesday afternoon. Congrats to commenter number 14, Aurora! Aurora won the Banned Books Week prize pack.:)
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