“Go Ask Alice” by Anonymous

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As a historical piece of early YA, I’m extremely glad I read Go Ask Alice by “Anonymous.” But as a reader, I feel hoodwinked.

Supposedly, Go Ask Alice is the real-life diary of a girl from the late 60s, early 70s, who gets hooked on drugs and spirals out of control. One soda laced with LSD is all it takes. Before you know it, she’s tried everything from pot to heroin. The “editor” goes to great lengths to make the reader believe in the authenticity of the diary as a true, first-person account of what it is liked to become a drug addict.

But according to Wikipedia, that’s all bogus. Go Ask Alice is a piece of fiction created by Beatrice Sparks. Originally, it the publisher listed it as non-fiction, but later characterized the book as fiction.

If you look at the book as a piece of fiction, there are several problems with it. Go Ask Alice has a slow start. There are several diary passages that a modern-day fiction editor would remove because they don’t add anything to the narrative. If the book was truly non-fiction, then I would be okay with these issues because it was a “real” diary. But it’s not a real diary; the whole thing is fake.

Still, I truly appreciate Go Ask Alice for what it was, a compelling look at drug addiction that several decades ago probably helped a lot of young readers advert that course.

Now, I believe teens would be better off reading Crank by Ellen Hopkins which includes a terrifying look at meth.

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