Book Review: Go Ask Alice

April 3, 2013 Whitney Review 10 Comments

Book Review: Go Ask AliceGo Ask Alice
Author Beatrice Sparks
Publisher Simon Pulse
Publication Date January 1, 2006
Source: Bought

A teen plunges into a downward spiral of addiction in this classic cautionary tale.

January 24th

After you've had it, there isn't even life without drugs....

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.

For thirty-five years, the acclaimed, bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl's harrowing decent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers. As powerful -- and as timely -- today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction.

Alice is your typical teen-aged girl. She worries that she is too fat. She wants a boyfriend: “I wish I were popular and beautiful and wealthy and talented.” She frequently makes resolutions in her diary to do better in school, work toward a better relationship with her mother, and lose weight. Her life changes when she goes to a party and is given acid in her drink. She loves the feeling the drug gives her: “I could smell it and touch it and feel it as well as hear it.  Never had anything ever been so beautiful.”

I first read this at thirteen, just a few years younger than Alice.  I was appalled and absorbed by this novel at the same time.  Now fifteen years later, I am just as appalled and absorbed but now see the dept and sorrow of this short life.  Between the bleakness, I could see sparks of light trying to break through, but never quite reached the surface.

Alice writes several times about streaking her diary with tears and I almost did the same while reading this short book.  A vivid description of life on the streets and the constant dislike of what she had become was heart breaking.  Who knew a 200 page book could be so emotionally draining?

Like Anne Frank’s diary is to the Holocaust, Go Ask Alice is a testament to the powers of addiction and should be a book everyone reads at least once.

After writing this review and reading several thought-provoking comments, did some research on the authenticity of Go Ask Alice and the general conscience is that it is a work of fiction.  Looking back, I realize how obvious it is, like James Frey’s “Million Little Pieces”.   Remember the Oprah scandal?  While reading both A Million Little Pieces and Go Ask Alice I thought they were too unbelievable to be real.  As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true than it probably is (only substitute good for bad).

In hindsight, how could Alice remember in clarity her thoughts and actions during an LSD trip?  In general, the cohesiveness of the plot under the current circumstances seemed too tidy.  Lastly, like in “A Million Little Pieces” his love interest Lily conveniently hangs herself the day James is released and in Go Ask Alice, the subject dies three weeks after deciding to stop keeping a diary.  If there is any truth to this novel, was it just fate that Alice stopped her diary or did Beatrice Sparks decide that was a good stopping point?

I still stand by what I said, fiction or no this still leaves the reader with a haunting message on drugs — Just say no.

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10 responses to “Book Review: Go Ask Alice

  1. Wow. I've heard of this book but never read it, and now I'm wondering why on earth not! Fantastic review, it's going straight on my library/wish list – and I'll make sure to read it safe at home with a box of tissues handy…

  2. This was required reading in high school… and I hated it. It seemed so obviously made up just to scare kids into being good. I remember being really annoyed with it back then! LOL so interesting how people can see a book so differently 🙂 I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • After reading your comment it made me question the authenticity of the book too. How could Alice remember in such clarity her actions during an LSD trip? Especially a bad one. After doing some quick searching on the internet learned that Beatrice Sparks did a little more than just editing and is (if not all) mainly fiction.

  3. I somehow managed to miss this when I was a teen; probably because I was homeschooled and we had different readings lists. 🙂 I read it sometime last year, I think. It is definitely eye-opening. I also did some research on the book, and the general consensus is that yes, it was fiction, written by a psychologist (I think). But that doesn't change the haunting message of the book.

    • After reading Sarah's comment above I did some researching too and while it is indeed fiction Go Ask Alice still holds the message DARE officers instill in 4th graders — Say no to drugs.

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