The fiction book ‘Go Ask Alice’ was published in the year 1971, but the author remained anonymous. It is about the story of a teenage girl who starts developing addiction of drugs and at the age of 15, she runs away from her home. The journey that she has from there on is all about the self destructive escapism.
The book is written in the form of a diary and it is said that originally the book was presented as the real diary of an anonymous protagonist who is a teenager. In the late 1970s, the authenticity of the book started to face questions; there were controversies regarding the true authorship of the book. In the present day, the book is generally viewed as a fictional work written by the author Beatrice Sparks.
Sparks is also a therapist along with being an author; she went on to publish similar works through her lifetime which apparently were books that were purporting to be a troubled teenager’s real diary. There are certain sources that have claimed that along with Sparks, there was another author who helped her to write the book; it is believed that Linda Glovach is the co-author of ‘Go Ask Alice’.
The book is about a teenage girl’s addiction and her journey of self destructive escapism which indicates that the book was meant to target the young adult audience. However, the book refuted such boundary of target audience and became popular bestseller. Initially, the book was praised very much for conveying such a profound message about the perils of drug addiction and drug abuse; yet in the present day, the book is being criticised intensively for being a book that is a poorly written propaganda of anti-drug concept.
In spite of being accused as a literary hoax, the popularity that the book gathered helped it to endure the fact and the accusations. The print of the book has remained constant even after four decades of its publishing. The book also has been ranked among those books which are frequently challenged for a relevantly long period of time; this book was challenged due to its utilization of blasphemy and the explicit references to the abuse of drugs, rape and sex.
Due its popularity and conveyance of the profound message regarding the abuse of drugs, the book ‘Go Ask Alice’ was also adapted into a television film by the same name of ‘Go Ask Alice’; the movie was released in the year 1973 and it starred William Shatner and Jamie Smith Jackson. A stage play by the same name of ‘Go Ask Alice’ was published in the year 1976 and was written by Frank Shiras.
The title of the book is a line that is taken from a song “White Rabbit” penned by Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane in the year 1967; the whole song in turn referred to certain scenes from the novel ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll, that was published in the year 1865. The line states “go ask Alice/ when she is ten feet tall”; in the book by Lewis Carroll, the character of Alice eats as well as drinks diverse things that makes her grow into a larger person or a smaller person. The song has used the story of Lewis Carroll as a metaphor for having a bad experience in drug abuse.
The story begins right before the protagonist turns 15 in the form of diary. Just like a typical teenage girl, the protagonist is also mostly concerned about her hair, boys and how to fit in. Her father had a new job that leads them to shift to a new location which is situated across the country. The protagonist has to attend a new school and this is the time when the protagonist finds herself to be extremely insecure and sensitive.
Initially, she tries to fit in by making new friends and flounders but her attempts go in vain and she cannot make new friends; this is why she eventually gives up on everything including her efforts to stay hygienic. However, at a certain point she makes a new friend Beth who is a Jewish girl; she is invited to a party where her soda is spiked with LSD and she falls in with the crowd; the LSD was given to her without her consent, yet she likes the experience so much that she gets eager to do it again.
This is where the protagonist starts to take everything including marijuana, hallucinogens, drugs and more. Such was the extent of her addiction that she even loses her virginity in an orgy that was fuelled by drugs, yet the teenager does not get affected by the fact. When she visits her home for the new year of school, she abandons her best friend Beth for some new friends like Chris, Richie and Ted.
Her debits grew to such an extent that she was compelled to sell drugs to the younger customers so that she could fund her debts. The protagonist is disturbed when she gets to know that a nine year old boy would want LSD, but she is so much in love with Richie that she continues to do her job. After she experiences a cruel sexual assault, her perception changes and yet there goes on a cycle where she gets clean, vows to never touch the drugs again and breaks the vow.
Eventually, the protagonist gets tired of being poor, taken advantage of and hungry; she calls her home to rescue herself from the spiral of prostitution, self ham and drug abuse. Her patient and loving family forget everything and take her in. Following the rescue, the protagonist gets overdosed when an old friend spikes her drink with LSD. Finally the story shows her change and she acquires some friends who know how to have fun without drugs or needles.
When her life is settled with good friends, a boyfriend and proper schoolwork, the protagonist, whose name is not revealed throughout the story, she decides that diary writing is not for people of her age. Thus the story abruptly ends with a mysterious reveal of her death due to overdose through her epilogue.