“Go Ask Alice”: An Eye-opening Book in the LaFASA Resource Library

The un-refrained review by Megan Cortez, LaFASA volunteer

NOTE: “Go Ask Alice” is a 1971 diary about a teenage girl. Attributed to “Anonymous,” the book is in diary form, and was originally presented as being the edited “real diary” of the unnamed teenage protagonist. Questions about the book’s authenticity and true authorship began to arise in the late 1970s, and it is now generally viewed as a found manuscript-styled fictional work written by Beatrice Sparks, a therapist and author who went on to write numerous other books purporting to be real diaries of troubled teenagers. Some sources have also named Linda Glovach as a co-author of the book. – Wikipedia

Let me start by saying I love this book. It is not a story, but a diary; the truth of a 15-year-old female drug user. I feel so emotionally connected to it. It’s a very raw experience. I cried three different times throughout the book. It does have a lot of triggers, so if you are not emotionally ready, you might want to wait to read it until you feel strong. 

The narrative of this anonymous diary starts from the perspective of a typical 15-year-old girl. I’ll refer to her as “Alice” for the sake of clarity. Alice comes from a nice background and nice family. She experienced that “raw” teen angst that most teens experience. Alice’s mom was overbearing and Alice was considered the “black sheep” of her family. From the perspective of another “black sheep,” I completely understood her passages. She moved to a new town, but the sibling rivalries and a love/hate relationship with her parents continued.

She met a girl named Jill Peters and invited Jill to her party she was planning to have three days later. It was a seemingly fun party, however someone gave her a soda spiked with LSD, of which she was unaware. Only once have I had the experience of been given a drug without my knowledge; it is the worst. This was Alice’s first time consuming a drug, and it was LSD. They played a game called, “Button, button who’s got the button?” Turned out, it was Alice. 

Ten days after the first time she’d ever taken any kind of drug, Alice had already tried “torpedoes” (an upper) and “speed.” Alice wrote that doing the speed was scary at first, because her date, Bill, shot her up. She went on to write, “I loved it and can’t wait to do it again.” She references Lewis Carroll and how he must have been on drugs while writing “Alice in Wonderland.” I have to say, I do agree with her, but I love “Alice in Wonderland.”

Two and a half months later, Alice begins selling weed and acid. She made friends with a girl named Chris. And two weeks after, she snuck out of her house in the middle of the night to meet Chris and move to San Francisco. When I was 16, I left the house and started staying with friends. Basically “couch crashing.” It wasn’t because I had a bad family or anything, but just like the girl in the book I needed to get away from home. I wasn’t doing right or living up to my mother’s standards. 

A couple of weeks later, Alice tried heroin for the first time and ends up getting raped by two people who had taken her under their wings. They got Chris high on heroin, too, and raped her, too. Both girls decide they can’t continue to live that life anymore, so they go home for Christmas. I would always go home around the holidays, but I would never stay long before I was gone again. 

Alice stayed clean for about a month. However, in late January, she relapsed with Chris. She felt elated to be back on drugs. She ran away from home again. This time, she went to Colorado, then Oregon. She was homeless for about a month or longer before she had to go back home because, there was nowhere else left to turn. She had no money for food or shelter. I’ve been there before. 

She stayed clean for a long while. Her grandpa and grandma died within 2 month of each other. I cried both times because I lost both of my grandmothers within 4 months. So reading that really triggered me, but also resonated with me. It felt good to let out a cry because I really, really miss my grandma.

Alice went back to school, still clean. The dope heads and acid heads at school tried to get her hooked on drugs again, because they didn’t like her clean. I’ve found once you get clean you lose a lot of “so called friends.” It really seemed like Alice had turned her life around. Until one day, one of the jealous dope heads laced some chocolate covered peanuts with acid and she had a bad trip that landed her in the hospital for weeks. From the hospital, they moved her to the state mental health hospital. I’ve personally been to two of them, so I know exactly what she went through while there. 

Alice stayed there a couple of months before she was finally able to go home. Everything was looking up for her. She was happy again and made new friends. She had the best 17th birthday she had ever had. Horrifically, three weeks later her parents came home to find her dead of an overdose. No one knows if it was an accidental OD or a premeditated one. That hit me really hard. I cried again. 

It was very emotional to me because at age 16 I lost my best friend to suicide. My life spiraled out of control after that. I’ve lost quite a few people to overdoses. I’ve also lost quite a few people to gun violence and car wrecks. She was only one of thousands of drug deaths that year. The same applies to my friends that I have lost, just one in thousands. The number of overdoses keeps rising every year. I’ve personally overdosed twice, but luckily for me it was not my time and the invention of Narcan saved my life. I love this book because I can relate so much, as I’m sure many people can. Even though this diary was about a girl in the seventies there are many similarities to today’s world. 

I encourage anybody to read it whether you have dealt with these things personally or not. It is really eye opening. Most people don’t realize how fast one drug turns into the other, until you find yourself homeless or crashing random places. I went through a lot of trauma at a young age just like this young girl did. May she rest in peace.

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