Aly in Wonderland

Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice - Anonymous Anonymous Edit: 18/07/2014 After some research, I've finally found out that this book is NOT a true story, at all. It was passed off as a real, anonymous diary for years and years, but the author is actually [a:Beatrice Sparks|69007|Beatrice Sparks|]

Does this change my opinion of the book? Only slightly. I'd like to know when I'm about to be cheated out of my opinion. If I'd known this beforehand, I probably would not have felt so invested in the book. So, yeah, you can say I am really, seriously, beyond pissed. But I'm not going to change my review because, at the time, this is what I felt.

Consider this a friendly warning that it isn't a true story.


WARNING: Triggers are contained within this review.

Read more reviews at The Beautiful World of Books!

"Go Ask Alice is based on the actual diary of a fifteen-year-old drug user. It is not a definitive statement on the middle-class, teenage drug world. It does not offer any solutions. It is, however, a highly personal and specific chronicle. As such, we hope it will provide insights into the increasingly complicated world in which we live."

Go Ask Alice is the first book that I have read that had me bawling my eyes out from around 50% up to right at the very end. It's raw, brutal and terrifying.

You're inside a fifteen-year-old anonymous girl's head.

You're watching her struggling to fit in.

You begin getting that clammy feeling in your hands and neck that means something horrid is going to happen.

You watch a fifteen-year-old spiral out of control, and there is nothing you can do to help her.

After some research before writing this review, I'm still not 100% sure if this is a true story or if it's based on true events. Everything I have looked at either tells me it's unknown or it's true, so I'm not going to be adamant about the 'true story' bit. The passage I quoted at the top is a note from the editors, but that doesn't mean much, really.

It's a difficult book to review, the worst one so far this year. We have no idea whose diary we're reading, or who this girl even is (we're never actually given a name). All we know is that it takes place in the late sixties/early seventies, when drugs were easier to come by than alcohol; when drugs were literally given out in the streets.

It's not an easy book to read, either. From the outset, I knew it was going to be a tough book, one I wasn't sure I could stomach. It hit too close to home with the drugs (I've known and lost friends to extensive drug abuse and it's the most horrible feeling when you watch them abandon themselves and there is nothing you can do. They're too far gone to listen) but it's the most accurate portrayal of the downward spiral drugs have to offer; it shows the ugliest parts of an addict, that they are willing to do anything just to get high. People become so dependant that when they're not constantly on, they can't remember what it's like to feel free and happy without chemicals in their bodies.

We follow a fifteen year old's journey on this route. She's always struggled to fit in -- maybe she was too pudgy, then far too skinny, her hair wasn't right, she was too nice or not nice at all -- and at a party, her drink is spiked and suddenly, she's accepted:

Now that I think back I should have known what was happening! And dum-dum should have known, but I thought the whole party was so strange and exciting that I guess I just wasn't listening or maybe I didn't want to listen - I'd have been scared to death if I'd known. So I'm glad they did it to me, because now I can feel free and honest and virtuous about not having made the decision myself. And besides the whole experience is over and past and I'll never think of it again.

Except it's true what they say; once you pop, you can't stop...

For two days now I've tried to convince myself that using LSD makes me a "dope addict" and all the other low-class, unclean, despicable things I've heard about kids that use LSD and all the other drugs; but I'm so, so, so, so, so curious, I simply can't wait to try pot, only once, I promise! I simply have to see if it's everything that it's cracked up not to be! All the things I've heard about LSD were obviously written by uninformed, ignorant people like my parents...

And from there, it just gets worse...

Remember I told you I had a date with Bill? Well he introduced me to torpedos on Friday and speed on Sunday. They are both like riding shooting stars through the Milky Way, only a million, trillion times better. The Speed was a little scary at first because Bill had to inject it right into my arm.

She tries to stop:

I don't know why I shouldn't use drugs, because they're wild and they're beautiful and they're wonderful, but I know I shouldn't, and I won't! I won't ever again. I hereby solemnly promise that I will from this very day forward live so that everyone I know can be proud of me and so that I can be proud of myself!

But she's not strong willed enough, and quickly things begin to spiral...

Last night Doris was really low. We've run out of pot and money and we're both hungry... Oh, to be stoned, to have someone tie me off and give me a shot of anything...

The writing completely changes during the book. We start off with a proper, educated young girl with perfect grammar and a sweet tone that made me want to befriend her. But by 52% (just after the waterworks started), the writing gets ugly, there's horrible amounts of cussing, talks of baby prostitutes and of selling her body for the drugs she so desperately needs. It's grimy, horrible, dirty and disgusting. It would make even the cleanest of people stay off drugs for the rest of their lives. After every high, every crazy passage written, you get a sad, depressing passage when she hits a low. You see her struggling with herself, not understanding who she is or what she's doing. She's desperate and slowly going insane.

Dear Diary, I feel awfully bitched and pissed off at everybody. I'm really confused. I've been the digger here, but now when I face a girl it's like facing a boy. I get all excited and turned-on. I want to screw with the girl, you know, and then I get all tensed-up and scared...

It's a wake up call kind of book. As I mentioned before, I've known heavy drug users, people so stuck in their circle they're not sure whether they're meat or fish. When it gets to that point, it's very, very hard to get them out of it. In the end, if they don't want to save themselves, there's absolutely nothing you can do.

This book should absolutely not be read by anyone who cannot handle the following triggers: drugs, rape, abuse and sex. It is a blunt and cruel diary of a girl and she doesn't skim over the facts. It's there in black and white. I've warned you.

I'm still iffy about the rating, because I simply have no idea how I should rate something likes this. So, for now, I'm going to leave it as it is and will come back to it at some point.

If you are interested in the story, but don't think you can hack the book, there is a 1973 movie adaptation.

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