Go Ask Alice

Thoughts    Go Ask Alice by “Anonymous”, Simon Pulse 2006(orig 1971), 214 pages


“This novel in diary form powerfully depicts the confusions of adolescence.  Its impact cannot be denied.”

– School Library Journal

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MOTIVATION for READING:    For Banned Books Week (Sept 26 – Oct 1); given to me by my neighbor.  This also qualifies for the What’s In a Name Challenge for a title involving movement.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:   These are the diary entries of a young girl who is slipped a drug in a drink at a party and the subsequent events and her feelings about ‘tuning in and turning on’.   It is harrowing to say the least.

ABOUT being BANNED:   Knowing the reasons many books are banned or discouraged from being read by impressionable-youths, it is not hard to see why ultra-conservative adults might not want their children to read this.  It is full of drug use, descriptions of the pleasures of drug use, defying authority, and immoral behavior.  But from my viewpoint, every parent and every adult working with teenagers should read this to understand that kids can be hard to understand and preaching at them is never the best communication strategy.   It is also full of the scary sad dangerous consequences of drug use, presented by a teenage girl who experiences the horrible lows and tragedies of using.   

I was somewhat shocked that it was written in and within the setting of the 60s and I also assumed the girl was naive BECAUSE it was the 60s.  At one point, I thought she was also just dumb. BUT.   The point is that kids can and do get hooked beyond their abilities to think it through.  They do push to younger kids!   They want, crave the escape – and the other kids do hound or bully and make life suck.  It is still relevant today, and I don’t think I am assuming that times now are different or better or worse or kids are more knowledgeable.   It still feels quite relevant in tone and theme.

Maybe other books do this better and because this was a huge hit when published and was considered ground-breaking, I still suggest this is an important book and should be read.

I do not have a problem with this being fiction yet presented as a ‘true account’.   However, if you had asked me last year what this book was about, I would have mentioned this issue before saying it was about drugs.

I wish I could have read this when in High School and that I could be privy to what I would have thought of it then if I had read it.   Can’t do it, though.  Time machine not invented and I would have to have my mind from that time which I wouldn’t have it I was sent back 30 years.    Time travel thinking does fascinate me, though.

Rating:  Three slices of pie.

One more thing.  I made the mistake *of reading the last page while still in the first few pages and so this really caused me great anticipating grief and horror knowing or being confused by what I thought was going to happen when only having two pages left to go!    My palms were starting to sweat, my heart was beating, I was quite anxious.  SO.  If you do read this and don’t know what happens, do NOT read the last page first!!!    Or was it good for my experience that it happened this way?   I’m getting myself all confused just thinking about it.


* I rarely read the ending – I hate spoilers!   I really do not know HOW exactly this reading-the-last-page-thing happened.   Maybe I’m losing my mind.


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14 thoughts on “Go Ask Alice

  1. I have a really old copy of this book which was read so many times by different family members that it is now in three pieces (we’re all spine creasers). I think most people would throw it away, but the family connection and my intense feelings upon my first reading in highschool have me holding on to it.

    1. I do enjoy the history of books when they have such tumultuous starts. I bet many people were in shock that such things happened to “nice” families.

  2. I remember reading this in high school and being horrified at some parts. I definitely agree with you, Care, that this is a book that parents and kids can read and discuss. There’s so much going on in the world that we need to prepare our children for.

  3. I’ve occasionally truly accidentally glanced at the last pages of a book (usually when I check the number of pages). And then I see the name of a character, who I thought dead, or a particular spoiler picture, etc. And with two pages left in the book, I start sweating, feeling anxious, etc wondering if what I think will happen! Ha! This book sounds awesome – I’ve been meaning to read it. I was always intrigued that the author is listed as Anon, so I just checked wiki now, the book does have a named author – Beatrice Sparks.

    1. Especially when there are only 2 pages left and your expectations are being realized – it’s crazy! re: Beatrice Sparks; the print book does not mention her name at all to create the illusion of how ‘real’ it is. Not that it’s not depicting real stuff but that it is fictional.

  4. I didn’t read a banned book because I’m trying to focus on getting through my stack of ARCs (ha – some days that works out). Someday I’ll get around to reading this one! I would have read Lolita if I’d felt like I had the time, since it’s been sitting on my shelf for eons.

  5. I didn’t read a banned book for Banned Book Week, but I *did* read GO ASK ALICE (a couple times) back in high school. I can’t go back in the time machine either, so I don’t know why it fascinated me; I was really drawn to it (a cautionary tale?). I do know that I thought it was nonfiction, and only learned that it was fiction a few years ago. Burst my bubble.

    1. Very scary! and did it influence you to keep a diary? That seems to be one of the *shoulds* of the book, besides the obvious – “DON’T DO DRUGS!” Just what she talks about and contrasting it with my growing up. I guess I was sheltered. Yay for me.

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