January 28, 2010 by Michelle
Go Ask Alice is a book written in the form of diary entries by a 15-year-old girl. She is first introduced to drugs unwittingly one day, when she attends a party held by one of her schoolmates. In her diary, her one and only true friend, she tells about the colours she sees and the exhilaration she feels when she’s high on drugs. She also writes about the different kinds of drugs available out there, and the different experiences each one gives her.
Along the way, she meets with different people, some of which are drug users who don’t intend to quit, while others are like her, drug users who want to quit but can’t.
Apparently, this was first published as non-fiction, as it is said to be the actual diary of an unnamed girl. But later on, the editor of the book, Beatrice Sparks, went on to produce other books, also said to be diaries of disturbed teens she meets as a therapist and youth counselor. This, of course, generated a lot of talk about the authenticity of her books, and whether or not she is actually writing those books herself, and passing them off as ‘diaries’.
I think in part, knowing about this controversy about whether or not this was a book based on fact or fiction made it a little difficult for me to really get into the mind of the narrator. Every other page, I would be asking myself, is this believable? Would a 15-year-old write like this in her diary? She says she takes drugs, but how come she only writes about the great feelings, but none about how awful it must have felt when she was trying to refrain from drugs?
Then again, it can be explained that it is precisely because it is a diary, not everything is written in it, and the parts that are not, we as readers would have to use a little of our own imaginations and expand the story from there.
The book almost didn’t feel real enough for me. I keep forgetting that this is supposed to be a 15-year-old girl’s diary. I didn’t quite relate to her in the end.
For: Banned Books Challenge
Note: I know there are some who would completely not forgive the author for trying to pass this book off as non-fiction, if it actually is fiction. For me, it’s very dubious, and I don’t quite appreciate the author for not coming clean about it. But I suppose, if you’re not sure if this is fiction or not, I’d much rather just treat it as fiction, and read it that way. Like all works of fiction, there are always some elements of truth and reality, no matter how miniscule.