Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Title: Go Ask Alice
Author: Anonymous, produced by Beatrice Sparks
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: September 14, 1971
Genre: YA
Pages: 211
*Read for book club.

The torture and hell of adolescence has rarely been captured as clearly as it is in this classic diary by an anonymous, addicted teen. Lonely, awkward, and under extreme pressure from her "perfect" parents, "Anonymous" swings madly between optimism and despair. When one of her new friends spikes her drink with LSD, this diarist begins a frightening journey into darkness. The drugs take the edge off her loneliness and self-hate, but they also turn her life into a nightmare of exalting highs and excruciating lows.

Although there is still some question as to whether this diary is real or fictional, there is no question that it has made a profound impact on millions of readers during the more than 25 years it has been in print. Despite a few dated references to hippies and some expired slang, Go Ask Alice still offers a jolting chronicle of a teenager's life spinning out of control.

This book really was an eye-opener about the roller coaster that is the world of drugs. The closest I’ve come to illegal drugs is stories from friends. I’m a person who really disapproves of doing drugs, including smoking cigarettes, because of the negative health effects. For someone like me, this book gave me the opportunity to see drugs through the eyes of someone who literally lived through the addiction... To see the other side of the story. Like I said, it was an eye-opener.

I think I forgot what teens can be like: when they like someone, that person is their true love; they change their minds about things every other day; they think their parents are out to ruin their lives; and so on. The diarist was all of these things, and sometimes it irritated me, but then I’d remember that this was a real person’s life and this was how she truly felt when she was writing. Being empathetic to the diarist really helped when reading this story. It was almost a requirement. I feel like it would have been wrong to judge the diarist. That would be like judging the life of someone who lives on the streets in your city. It’s just wrong.

It was really great to see the family relationship change. She started out thinking her parents were unloving and dismissive, but as the book progressed she began to realize that they really only wanted her to be safe and actually loved her very much. She also had a great relationship with her grandfather, but I’ll let you discover that one on your own. The relationship between her and her brother was great as well. After having gone through all the drugs and problems she did, she just wanted to be able to protect her siblings. Since her brother was much closer to her in age than her sister, she was most concerned about him following her same path. She wanted to make sure he was sheltered from the life of drugs, but was afraid to tell him of all her experiences, for fear that he’d think poorly of her.

I enjoyed reading this book. It was relatively quick to read because it’s journal entries, and I always find that those make the book fly by. It was shocking to read, especially when I would remember that it wasn’t fiction, and that this girl really lived what she wrote, when she was only 15. It’s not a book for those who are iffy about drugs and sex in what they read, but it’s definitely something I’d recommend to anyone who’s even thought of picking it up. Do it.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


  1. This is such a good book and your review is very similar to the way I felt when I read it. When you remind yourself that it is non fiction it becomes that much more jarring. When I have kids one day I think this is something I might suggest they read. I know for a long time they taught it in school which makes sense to me. I think this book speaks to the teenaged mind more than any parent or teacher ever could about the slippery slope of substance abuse. Good review!

  2. I read the Indonesian version of this book.I learnt a lot from this book.
    I hated the ending. I thought after those bad days, there was still a chance for her.