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How often do you wake up in the mornings wondering what the point of getting out of bed would be today, thinking to yourself, why have I even bothered waking up, when thing's couldn't possibly get worse? Well very recently I did, and in my solemn mood I decided rather than going out and cheering myself up, I decided I would pop to the shop, buy a book and read it in a nice hot bubble bath.
The book I picked was Go Ask Alice, admittedly I wasn't particularly drawn to it at first, but there was a severe lack of choice, so, I decided to go into it with an open mind and figured hey, maybe I'll enjoy it!
Alice is an ordinary teenage girl, suffering with low self esteem, yo yo dieting, feeling excluded, alone and really just wanting to fit in. In her sheer desperation to be accepted by the cool kids, she accepts an invitation to a party, where in she unknowingly ingests LSD in a spiked bottle of coke. As soon as she gets homes she writes about the experience of the 'high' in her diary and admits her guilt for being foolish but the excitement she felt from her rebellion. She soon finds herself however, slipping further into the world of drugs, running away, living on the streets, going cold, hungry and alone all in her desperate search for the better high, desperate to give it up, but addicted beyond her own understanding.
It is a story no different to many other teenage girls finding themselves wrapped up in drugs, with one incredibly important difference. Alice kept a diary. Go Ask Alice is the publication of the diary and therefore Alice's accounts of the story, exactly how she saw and experienced it.
By the time I was halfway through the book I was already thinking to myself, what have I got to complain about? Why am I sat here thinking life is so terrible when quite clearly it could get so much worse? More to the point though, I couldn't put the book down! It's an insightful and painfully honest look into the drug culture among teenagers. It gave me a genuine understanding of just how easy it can be to find yourself in a place you never thought you could possibly be, and how your life can change in one simple night.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who needs a sudden realisation of just how lucky they are, or are just interested in the drug culture of the 1970s.
A true account of a young girls life in the 1970s, 'Go Ask Alice' is a cautionary tale about a girl who gets caught up in the wrong crowd.
The author is anonymous as no one knows 'Alice's' real name but this is a true story.
Starting off trying mild recreational drugs, Alice's life quickly spirals out of control when she has flashbacks of drug use, has horrific hallucinations and ends up injuring herself (whilst being completely oblivious to how), becoming homeless and ending up in hospital numerous times.
Throughout the story a number of false friends come and go, always leaving Alice ultimately alone, a turbulent relationship with her parents and siblings and stealing her grandparents medication are all the ingredients for a recipe for disaster for Alice, and despite all of this, the reader remains sympathetic to the protagonist as it seems so quick and too easy how her life spirals into a mess.
Without giving away the ending, this story is ultimately a tear jerker and would put anyone off the use of drugs.
A good read for teenagers, as it is a really dark and interesting book to read but it will also get rid of any potential desire to experiment with drug use.
***Several sources have debunked the fact that this is a genuine diary, apparently it was promoted as such whilst it went to publication but this has since been de-bunked.
This does not affect my review of the product though and I still consider it to be worth 5 stars!
GO ASK ALICE
First published: 1971
"Go Ask Alice" was published in 1971, in the wake of a whole generation of American and British youths being caught up in the largely hippie drug culture....a drug culture which was somewhat different in mood, intent and practice, to that which exists amongst the young now in the 21st century.
Parents on both sides of the Atlantic dashed out in their droves to buy this book, in the hope that their teenage offspring would read it and see the light, change their ways, and become fine, good and upstanding young citizens.
For a spell in the early 1980s during the Thatcher regime, "Go Ask Alice" was removed from print in the UK, as it was believed the book gave the wrong message to the young, the philosophy behind the ban being that if Britain's youth were protected from all knowledge of drugs and drug taking, they wouldn't slide down the slippery path themselves. I personally find that mode of thinking rather ludicrous, as firstly the book in itself doesn't condone or encourage drug use in the slightest - quite the opposite - and surely, young people are drawn to drugs not by reading about them, but by observing their friends enjoying themselves whilst under the influence, thereby wanting to do the same, or being drawn into drug use by peer pressure.
I believe the ban on this book was lifted later on in the 1980s, but it made little difference to its availability, as by then it was out of print anyway.
In more recent years, "Go Ask Alice" has reappeared on our bookshop shelves, re-published and with a complete re-design of the cover, which is now a dark brown, with the words "Go Ask Alice" in white (the old 1970s cover was a turquoise blue, and bore photos of various items connected with drug use, such as a paper twist containing white powder and a syringe).
Allegedly, "Go Ask Alice" is the diary of a 15-year-old American girl from a stable, loving, middle-class home, who feels alienated from her family and everyday life in general. The title of the book is taken from the Jefferson Airplane song of the same name, because the song is about the use of LSD. It is estimated that "Alice" was supposed to have written her diaries mostly during the year of 1968, at the time the drug-related events in her life took place. "Alice" (apparently not the girl in question's real name) quickly gets drawn into the world of drugs, and her initiation takes place at a party where her Coke drink is spiked with LSD during a "Button Button Who Has The Button" game. The LSD takes effect, and Alice goes on a wonderful trip, which blasts her mind from one end of the universe to the other.
Later on after the party when she's at home alone in her bedroom (still spaced-out), "Alice" writes all about the LSD trip in her diary.
As time goes by, "Alice" gets more and more caught up in the world of drugs - leaving home twice, going to hippie "love-ins" and rock festivals, suffering abuse at the hands of various truck drivers who she hitches lifts from, then finally makes the decision to chuck the whole sordid lifestyle in forever, go back home to her parents, and be a good girl.
Safely back in middle America and re-united with her worried but very forgiving family, "Alice" starts dating a nice clean-cut, straight and sensible boy (Joel) who is one of her college lecturer father's pupils. After "Alice" tells Joel of her drug and runaway escapades, he decides it makes no difference and that she is still the love of his life. Despite the sun seeming to shine upon her at long last, there remains a darker side to "Alice's" straight life in that she is being pestered and bullied by the "druggies" at her school, who continue to make things very difficult for her. At the end of the book, it is claimed that "Alice" was found dead from a drugs overdose by her parents on their return from an evening out, and that it was never determined whether this overdose was deliberate or accidental; nor does it reveal what drug apparently killed "Alice". (NB: The book never mentions "Alice" using heroin. Her drug use was, as far as the book reports, largely cannabis, LSD and amphetamines).
When I very first read this book, I was still pretty young, and lapped up every word religiously, marvelling at the supremely brilliant articulacy of this 15-year-old girl. At the time, I myself was "dabbling" a little here and there, and I found that the descriptions of the drug experiences in the book seemed very accurate, artistically written, and very readable/entertaining, as well as being desperate, sad and shocking....I was naive in those days though.
As the years wore on, my life changed beyond recognition and I didn't read "Go Ask Alice" for a long time - it stayed in my bookshelf, gathering dust. The subject matter had ceased to be of interest to me, but I held onto the book as part of my collection, and for posterity.
Two years ago I moved to where I'm now living, and as I was unpacking my book collection, my eyes fell upon "Go Ask Alice" and I decided to, after more than 30 years, give it another read for old times' sake.
It isn't a long book, and I managed on this occasion to read it from cover to cover in one evening - and when I had finished it, I sat back and gave the contents of the book some serious thought - but this time, through the eyes of a 52-year-old (the age I was then in 2006), rather than the eyes of an 18-year-old (the age I'd been when I first read it). My first thought was that something just didn't seem right about the book - that hadn't occurred to me in the slightest from those times I read it when in my late teens.
What didn't seem right? The very first thing which sprang out of the pages at me was that it is highly unlikely a young person back in those days would have used LSD (albeit "Alice" was supposed to have had her drink spiked) as their first drug experience. Most would have begun on cannabis - but, "Alice" writes of using cannabis for the first time a few days after the LSD trip. She also expresses nervousness at using cannabis - why would someone be scared to use cannabis when they have so obviously enjoyed LSD a few days before? LSD is infinitely more powerful than cannabis, and that fact was widely known amongst the youth of America themselves back in the late 1960s. Throughout the whole history of youth drug culture from the mid-1960s to date, it has been common knowledge that rarely does anybody begin their drug career on the "hard stuff" - they start at the lower end and work upwards, in stages.
I also felt that no matter how articulate any 15-year-old can be, the language used to write these "diaries" was all wrong, especially as "Alice" was supposed to have been stoned out of her mind most of the time whilst writing; particularly a batch of diary entries said to have been scribbled on items such as paper bags, tissue paper etc. whilst she was a runaway, living and sleeping rough. It is highly unlikely that somebody would retain that level of articulacy while smashed out of their head on a concoction of pills, plus tripping the light fantastic to hell and back on LSD which in those days, was far far far stronger than it ever has been since.
This time around in 2006, the whole book suddenly came across to me as having a great sense of contrivedness, and I felt it had the hallmark of being written by somebody much older. Also, with hindsight, I realised that quite a few of the accounts in "Alice's" diaries of her drug escapades did not seem as if they were written and described from first-hand experience. The accounts of LSD trips, particularly "Alice's" last one, are very far away from what the drug does actually feel like in reality. I also questioned as to why "Alice", if she were a real teenage person and the true author, would go to so very much trouble regarding fine detail, together with the writing being almost formal in its grammatical perfection, for the purposes of merely scribbling out her day to day life events in a diary. A diary is surely is a personal thing that we don't usually intend anybody else to read, so why write it with a level of detail and precision as if you are expecting it to be published and read by the rest of the world? Also, would a young girl on the run and living rough, so freaked out on acid she can hardly think straight, bother to write on those paper bags, tissues etc? Even if she did, would she in that blasted to bits state of mind have been careful enough to keep them (after all, she was supposed to have had no luggage, bags, toiletries or anything with her - and only the clothes she stood up in while living rough) and take them home when she decided she'd had enough of that lifestyle?
I decided to go down the path of research regarding the authenticity of "Go Ask Alice" - to determine one way or the other if it truly was the diaries of a troubled 15-year-old girl put into book form and published, or if it was a contrived piece of writing designed to be an anti-drugs testimony, intended to scare the general public during an era when drug use amongst the young was still in its early stages, but greatly on the increase, with more and more drug (mostly LSD) casualties across the USA and northern Europe being reported each day.
My research, taking everything into account, shows that there is quite a lot of doubt regarding the authenticity of "Alice's" diaries. It does seem very likely that this book is not the work of a despairing, yet highly articulate and imaginative 15-year-old girl at all, but was created by one or a group of authors, with the sole purpose of cooking up a piece of readable anti-drugs propaganda. On the cover of the original publication of the book, it claims to be non-fiction - but this later at some point in the 1980s was changed, and the claims since then and now on the book's re-publication, are that it is a work of fiction.
The true source of the book still remains at its speculative stage, and the psychologist Beatrice Sparks at one time claimed to be the author. She does hold the copyright to the book, so there may be some truth in this. (Beatrice Sparks is an American psychologist and writer who has published several works of fiction, all written in first-person style, some in diary format - such as Jay's Journal which was a publication similar to "Go Ask Alice" - all of which highlight various social problems affecting children and teenagers, such as drug use, eating disorders, sexual abuse, self-harming etc.).
When challenged, Beatrice apparently asserted that she based "Go Ask Alice" on the life of one of her patients, but the truth of this has never been determined one way or the other. After writing and publishing "Jay's Journal" (apparently Jay was another of Beatrice's patients), Jay's family came forward and stated that most of what Beatrice wrote hadn't been taken from Jay's actual diaries at all, and was 99% fiction. It is interesting to note that nobody from "Alice's" family ever came forward to approve or disapprove of Beatrice's alleged authorship of "Go Ask Alice" together with the contents of the book, or even claim to be related to her.........did "Alice" really exist, or was it she a figment of Beatrice's or someone else's imagination?
It has also been suggested that a number of people collaborated to create "Go Ask Alice", again with the deliberate intent of it being a piece of anti-drugs propaganda, but the information as to who these collaborators could have been is sketchy, and there is no proof.
There are though, always two sides to every coin. Regardless of whether "Go Ask Alice" is an authentic collection of a troubled young drug user's actual diaries, or a work of anti-drugs propaganda fiction, it is certainly a good read. If "Alice" was in fact a real person, had she not have died of a drugs overdose, she'd doubtless have made a superb writer; but, I do strongly suspect "Go Ask Alice" is the work of Beatrice Sparks, as I have read a couple of her other books and the writing style is as near identical as dammit, to that of "Alice".
Fact or fiction, this is a very well-written book that highlights how easily a troubled young person can get inextricably caught up in the world of drugs. What stands out most of all for me in this book (let's just pretend it's real for a moment) is that towards the end of the book while "Alice" is trying so hard to put her sordid past behind her and get her feet on the straight and narrow (she is simultaneously being bullied and manipulated by her druggie ex-schoolfriends into slipping backwards down the old path), her mother warmly approves of these girls and even encourages "Alice" to associate with them - completely deaf to "Alice's" verbal expressions of worry and fear of the drug-pushing bullies.
"Go Ask Alice" might not be everybody's cup of tea, but it is a good read - and I heartily recommend it, despite the strong likelihood of the whole thing being a complete fake. There are a couple of minor descriptions in the book which are reasonably close to the real experience of the effects of LSD, but these could have been gleaned by word of mouth from speaking to anybody who has used the drug, and transmitted into the "diaries". There is an excellent description by "Alice" of a burnt-out (drug-wise) hippie girl at a rock festival, but this could easily have been the fake author's own words to relate something maybe seen on a news report, as at the time, the activities of acid-droppers, hippies, rock festival-goers etc. was a major cause for concern, and often reported extensively in the media.
I'm not quite sure how to properly rate "Go Ask Alice". From the point of view of it most likely being a fake it only deserves one star, but from the point of view of it being a good read in itself, it deserves full marks - so, I have decided to split the difference and opt for 3 stars.
Wow lol that took ages to write and edit!
Thanks for reading!
I was assigned to read Go ask Alice as part of my Sociology course, about teenagers and drug abuse. Go ask Alice was the book that really helped me get involved and connect with my topic. By reading Alice's diary you begin to like her, identify with her and will her to get better.
At the start of the book Alice is a normal fifteen year old. But when she moves house, she struggles to fit in and descends into a whirlwind of drug abuse. Go ask Alice shows just how easy it is for some teenagers to go from just experimenting with drugs to struggling with addictions.
'Go ask Alice is based on the actual diary of a fifteen year old drug user. It is not a definitive statement on the middle class, teenage drug world. It does not offer any solutions. It is, however, a highly personal and specific chronicle. As such, we hope it will provide insights into the increasingly complicated world in which we live.'
Although Go ask Alice was first published in the 1970s, the story is the same thing that many people are going through even today.
It's a great book, that will really make you think.
I have recently joined a brilliant website called www.readitswapit.co.uk where you (as you might guess from the title!) swap your books. Its all free and getting rather carried away, I ended up with about ten new books last week alone. One of them was this book Go Ask Alice, an anonymous diary of a fifteen year old American girl who became embroiled in the drugs scene.
As a mother of a fifteen year old daughter myself, I wanted to read this. I believe knowledge is power and anything we can use to equip ourselves in the fight against our own kids taking drugs must be helpful. Yesterdays news story about an eleven year old girl in Glasgow taking heroin just serves as a reminder that drugs are a part of an increasing amount of young peoples lives even those still in primary school!
Alices story begins a few months before she first tries drugs. We get to find out a lot about her and she seems she is a normal teenager. She struggles with relationships with her parents and siblings, tries her hardest to fit in with her peers, wants to have a boyfriend and be loved. She struggles with her weight and goes through the trials and stress that teenagers everywhere have to deal with. Essentially this is about a teenager, not just someone dealing with the temptation of drugs.
Alice is confused and vulnerable, but she is easy to like and the reader soon finds themselves on her side. We learn about her home life, her school life and the way she is treated by people. The most shocking aspect of this, in my opinion, was how her friends treated her. It is a common theme throughout the book that if her so-called friends took drugs, the drugs were their real friends and the one they showed the love and loyalty towards.
Instead of being one of millions of teenagers who actively decide to try drugs for the first time. Alice has this decision made for her. One of these friends spikes her drink with LSD at a party, as part of a game where only some of the Cokes are laced and others are just the drink. Her first trip is described in detail and was fascinating to read, but also terrifying that a small amount of a chemical substance could alter perception and distort reality so much.
We are taken on a journey through Alices life. This book is based on the two diaries she wrote, which cover her normal teenage problems a growing sexuality, trying to maintain grades at school, family problems and so on alongside her drug use/abuse and the ensuing mental health problems.
Apart from an afterword, everything is seen from Alices point of view, which should make this book very accessible for teenagers, rather than one written by parents or professionals who might be seen as preachy. I certainly plan to pass this round my own teenage children.
The book itself is short, only 156 pages and I read it in a few hours. The diary format means the text is broken up into easy, bite size chunks which encourage the reader to keep turning the pages. It is also a fascinating read and for me, the mixture of the known and familiar teenage world with the drug culture held my interest throughout.
The only problem I had with this book really was some of the language. It is an American book, so some of the terminology used is a little confusing, but it is also rather dated. The book was originally published in 1971 and some of the vocabulary is very much of that era groovy, dig, man and so on, which kids of today might find off-putting when reading it or even comical.
I realise I have said very little about Alices story, but this is deliberate. You need to read the book not knowing what happens, so that each event comes as a surprise. I believe in this way, the book will remain as shocking as it should be. I had already heard Alices fate, so found myself waiting for something to happen, instead of just absorbing her story without preconceptions.
As a parent, I found myself reading this on two levels how I was as a teenager in the 1980s compared to how I am now as a mother of teenagers in the 2000s. I was looking for clues as to things I could do or say that might help my kids make the right decisions and not experiment with drugs. But reading critically, Alices parents and grandparents seemed loving and supportive and I couldnt really see how they could have changed what happened. They were there for her, they loved her throughout and they rescued her from difficult situations.
Perhaps that is the scariest message of all. No matter what you do and how much you love and support your kids, sometimes it just isnt enough.
GO ASK ALICE by Anonymous.
Cover price £4.99 (1995).
Book swapping website
Yahoo group for people who love to read
This book was recommended to me by a friend about 4 years ago. It touched me then, and when i read it again, a short time ago, it still had the same effect on me. Go Ask Alice is the actual diary of a white American teenage girl who experiments with the drug culture. This diary is a very unusual record of the changes she experienced. I was surprised to notice, after i had read it, that it was first published in the 70's-i had assumed that it was recent. The problems she faced as a teenage girl have altered so little in all those years. I think it is for that reason that i was affected so greatly by the book-i could relate to so much of what she was saying-her insecurities were my insecurities and i was experiencing similar situations. The only way that we differed was the way which she handled things-she turned to drugs, and was eventually defeated by them. Unlike many fictional books which follow the same lines-nice young girl gets mixed up with the wrong crowd-Go Ask Alice does not preach. Because it is a real diary, the message is put across in the tragidy itself, and not by some author feeling it is there moral responsibility to show the evil which is the drug culture. The diary begins a short peroid before 'Alice' begins to experiment with drugs. She is seen to be an 'average' teenager, living a 'normal' life. We then follow her introduction to, and subsequent abuse of, a variety of drugs. We see how this changes her lifestyle, and how she falls down to the depths of dealing to survive her addiction. Go Ask Alice is particularly heart-rendering because you feel like you have got to know the person-the diary is a part of her, and it is also Alice's best, and at times only, friend. Although inevitable, the ending surprised me, and moved me to tears. This diary really is a phenominal piece of writing, which deserves to be read by the million. For a young girl, Alice writes with such matu
rity and self awareness, and some of the passages written while she is under the influence of drugs offer a remarkable insight. The book also contains a short psychologists report into the pressures which young people are exposed to -the pain of having to conform to pre-set rules. I would say that this book is as much scary as it is unique-it shows just how easy it is to slip up, and Alice just never managed to get back on her feet. In case you were wondering, the young girl has been named Alice after a reference she makes to Alice through the Looking Glass in her diary.
How long is it since you were a teenager? Two years? Two decades? And, do you have any children? Are they at the 'terrible twos' or 'turbulent teens' stage? Do you intend to have children in the future? Do you have younger brothers and sisters? Do you work with young people - a teacher or a social worker perhaps? If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, then "Go Ask Alice" is a book that you should be reading. You won't enjoy it.But you might just learn something from it and what you learn could even save a life. Think back to your teenage years. I bet you were as confused as I was. Half of you probably wanted to rebel - to stand out from the crowd and be different, while the other half desperately wanted to conform and to be accepted by your friends. This book is the true story of 15 year old Alice's attempts to fit in. To belong. To be in with the right crowd. And the only way that she believed that she would ever accomplish this was by taking drugs. Sadly, as the notes on the book cover say, "You can't ask Alice anything anymore". Yet perhaps we don't need to actually ask Alice, since she kept a detailed diary... This book, then, is Alice's Diary, a personal chronical of her transformation from a happy, bright 'All American' girl to her eventual death from a drug overdose. (It is not known whether this was deliberate or accidental.) It is a moving, highly personal tale of teenage angst and insecurities, of desperation, guilt, shame and defiance. Throughout the book, Alice oscillates between being 'Mummy and Daddy's little girl' and the original teenager from hell. Every feeling is documented. The highs, the lows, and the often unpleasant realities and pressures of simply being a teenager. The book was first published in 1972, so it may seem a little 'dated' to the reader(some of the 'fashion items which Alice yearns for - such
as plaid trousers - are thankfully long forgotten) However, it was reprinted every single year until 1981, when my copy is dated, and a quick check at amazon this morning showed that it is not only still in print, but is about to be reprinted yet again. It is also very much an American book, filled with the American slang expressions which would have been used by a teenager of the 1970's. But you'll just have to get over that, because, believe me, this book is just as relevant today as it was almost thirty years ago. Even though 'Alice' is only 15 years old, she writes with both maturity and insight - and she is ideally suited to look at the drug problem from that most important of view points - that of an impressionable and lonely teenager who wants to be accepted - whatever the cost. It is not a long book - only 142 pages - which includes a short comment by a psychologist into the pressures which teenagers faced then ...and today. It is a powerful social document, one which deserves to be read. For (as is asked in a review of the book which is printed on the cover) "Can it be that love is not enough?" (Sunday Mirror) I make no apologies for reviewing this book, although I can promise you that you won't enjoy reading it. You will cry, rather than laugh, shake your head in puzzlement many times and close the book with a feeling of deep regret for a young life wasted - for what could have been. You won't enjoy it - but, please - read it anyway. "Go Ask Alice" - Anonymous - Corgi - ISBN 0 552 09332 7
The actual story of a desperate girl on drugs and on the run - who almost made it. Based on the diary of a 15 year old.