Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

shadowy face book cover

BIBLIO: 1971,Simon and Schuster Inc., Ages 13 and up.
REVIEWER: Gwen Harter.
FORMAT: Young Adult book
ISBN: 9781416914631

Written as a diary this young adult book is notable for being one of the earliest young adult books in general but also for having questionable content. Most books at the time were sweet coming of age stories that had plenty of morals and maturity. This story talks about all the taboo topics of sex, drugs,running away, and straying from the expected past.

The girl writing this diary lives with her close knit family and when they move for her father’s work her life changes. Adjusting is hard for her in this new town, no one really wants to get to know her. She returns to her hometown to stay with her grandparents for the summer and is introduced to drugs, namely LSD and sex, and she returns home thinking she is effectively ruined as a person.

Upon the start of the school year she spirals out of control in secret, using all sorts of recreational drugs, dating a sleazy boy, failing in school, and even acting as a dealer.

She runs away with her only friend Chris to California and they start off in a dismal apartment and even worse situations but in a few short months they are able to open a small, mildly successful boutique. Homesick, they are happily accepted back home. They manage to stay clean for a while but the diary-keeper falls of the wagon and while on a drug induced trip ends up in Oregon, meets some other hippies and druggies, and joins in a rally. Again she realizes she doesn’t want this life and returns to her family and vows to stay clean. She also decides that she wants to go into social work so that she can help others through her past experiences.

Shortly after her return both of her grandparents fall ill and die. This tough time for her and her family was made worse by the bullying at school and then the diary-keeper’s freak out and institutionalization after she unknowingly ingests bad LSD and self harms.

It takes a while for her to be released but when she is, her life begins to turn around. Her family becomes closer, she befriends the good kids in school, she has a boyfriend, and her attitude is much better. The book ends on a positive not until the epilogue when the author reveals that the girl dies from an overdose only a few weeks later.

This book claims to be fiction but there is a lot of speculation on how much of it is based off an authentic diary. I would suggest this book for high school girls. I liked the story and connected to the diary-keeper. This book has been popular for decades and it is easy to see why. However this book is very dated in it’s references and style and sometimes it was a struggle to look past the 70’s vibe. I also had a difficult time with the end of the story, while it’s common for relapses to happen the ending wasn’t written in a way where it seems plausible and I was shocked at the epilogue because it really seems like the diary-keeper had a handle on her addiction and went clean for good. This epilogue was a call to action for awareness, which absolutely is still necessary and needs more advocates but the way the author did it was tacky and rushed. I suggest Ellen Hopkin’s Crank for a more recent spin on this subject.