Friday, April 1, 2016

A: Anonymous & GO ASK ALICE

This month, I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. My theme: authors whose work I read when I was younger. Each post will come with a quote and some details and thoughts about something I read by this author. Most featured stories will be YA, though there'll also be some MG and adult fiction sprinkled into the mix. The selected authors have an initial matching the assigned letter of the day.

“I looked at the sky this morning and realized summer is almost gone which really made me sad because it doesn't seem as though it’s been here at all.” 
-Anonymous (a.k.a. Beatrice Sparks), GO ASK ALICE 

I read Anonymous's GO ASK ALICE (Simon & Schuster, YA) before I was even in high school. GO ASK ALICE is a first-person narrative about an unnamed girl whose life spirals downward when she becomes addicted to drugs. At the beginning of the book, there is a note from the editor that reads: GO ASK ALICE is based on the actual diary of a fifteen-year-old drug user." So back then, when I read the book, I took the story for real. I remember feeling a little sad to learn that the narrator died weeks later after her final diary entry.

Now that we have the Internet, I've learned that Anonymous is actually an author named Beatrice Sparks, and that the story behind GO ASK ALICE was fictional.

When I read the book as a kid, I remember feeling uncomfortable with certain details, but I don't remember the story as being terribly creepy as other books I've read. And that was when I believed the story was real. Having skimmed through the story recently as a parent, I feel much more troubled by some of the content, and that's me, aware that the story is fictional.  

Have you read GO ASK ALICE? Do you feel that being older and/or having children has made you more sensitive and prone to worry? 

32 comments:

Michelle Wallace said...

I haven't heard of this book/author before.
According to your internet search, the story is fictional. Yet the editor's note says that it's based on the actual diary of a teen drug user? Strange.
Enjoy the challenge!
Writer In Transit

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I have not heard of this either. Maybe it was based on someone's life, but more fiction than not.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Not heard of this one either. It sounds pretty intense.

Donna McDine said...

I have not read it either. I'm intrigued though. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I'm delighted to have connected through A to Z. Love the name of your blog!

Denise said...

I've heard of the book but never read it. There have been several books I've read over the years where I wondered if it was really true or part fiction.

Denise said...

I've heard of the book but never read it. There have been several books I've read over the years where I wondered if it was really true or part fiction.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Shame it was all fictional. Maybe it scared a few kids from trying drugs though.

M.J. Fifield said...

I've read Go Ask Alice. It was popular in my middle school. Everyone read it, I think.

I'm really going to love your A to Z posts!!

—M.J. Fifield
My Pet Blog

Stephen Tremp said...

Cynthia, I have not. Reminds me of That was Then This is Now. movie was terrible but the book a classic!

I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings during the #AtoZChallenge at Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

betty said...

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

I did read Go Ask Alice when I was about 15 years old; probably a freshman in high school. That was way back in 1971. People were dying from use of drugs, that combined with the fact that I did enjoy living, and reading the book, really made an impact on me choosing not to experiment at all with drugs. Now I'm curious to re-read it years later and see what I would think of it!

betty

Sandra Cox said...

I have not read this. It seems like it would certainly make a young person think before trying drugs.

Pam Margolis said...

Yeah Go Ask Alice is good story. I dont really care that its fiction. it still gets the point across. I'll be stopping back for more books to add to my TBR. Happy A to Z!

Pat Hatt said...

Sometimes thinking it was real can be for the better.

Sherry Ellis said...

I am glad the story wasn't real, but believing it was would probably help a lot of kids stay away from drugs.

The Silver Fox said...

I read that book when it first came out, and was really ticked off years later when I found out it was fiction.

Doree Weller said...

I read Go Ask Alice was a teen, and I too believed it was real. I haven't reread it as an adult, but I definitely think it was good for me to read this as a kid. I think that it introduced themes that are important for kids to think about, and since it's coming from a book and not an adult, it means more.

I may have to reread it.

@DoreeWeller from
Doree Weller’s Blog

Grazona said...

I read this book somewhere around age 12 and I recall that it scared the crap out of me although I can't remember any details except it's about drug use and maybe she hallucinates bugs on her skin? I also believed it was real and feel relieve to know it wasn't! It's interesting to think of how the books we encountered at younger ages have affected the rest of our lives!

Hart Johnson said...

I haven't read this, but I've always intended to. Can totally see how a young person could think it was real.

Elsie Amata said...

Wow. I literally just found out it's fictional. All this time I thought it was a true story. I have to admit, I'm kinda bummed. I told my daughter it was real too and she read it.

Cathy Kennedy said...

Cynthia,

I have not read this book, but I can understand why how such a story would impact a younger person and it should. I imagine the intent of the author was to show the evils of drug addictions. If this fictional piece keeps others from experimenting with drugs, then I applaud the author because kids just don't understand how serious that first step can be. It's nice meeting you through the #AprilA2Z challenge!

Curious as a Cathy
All Things Vintage: Artists #AprilA2Z #BoTB

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

This book had a big impact on me. It was widely read when I was growing up, and it looks like they've been re-releasing it for a new generation.
The controversy over its provenance is interesting. As I understand it, it was presented as nonfiction, but only when later controversies surfaced over her other books did they look more closely into it. When they couldn't identify "Anonymous" they assumed it was fictional, but it's not clear to me how much truth and how much fiction it's compounded from. We'll probably never know. Unlike with one of her later books, where the family of the person the book was based on published a counter-narrative.

Karen O'Connor said...

I have vague recollections of reading it but don't remember too many details. It is amazing how perspective changes with time. I'm looking forward to your posts. I might need to revisit some of those I only vaguely recall now!

@WeekendsInMaine
Weekends in Maine

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I never read it, but I saw the movie. I feel a little duped. I always assumed the book was real. I think I'd have added that to the forward in the very beginning.

Keith Channing said...

I've not heard of this book, but that it has managed to convince so many people that it is not a fictional account, suggests the writing is very strong. I'm happy to say that my children, two in their forties and one fast approaching it, made it through adolescence and young adulthood without (as far as I am aware) being involved with drugs.
Keith Channing A-Zing from http://keithkreates.com

Debs Carey said...

Difficult: I read a book that I believed was a genuine diary until the epilogue, when the author came clean. I was disappointed, although I still recommend the book as it was excellent. It also wasn't on such an emotive subject.

Debs Carey
@debscaringcoach
www.bunnyandthebloke.com
www.caringcoaching.co.uk

Christine Verstraete said...

Wow I remember reading that back in high school. Don't remember the contents, though. The big thing was the song by Jefferson Airplane. Hopping by for A to Z - GirlZombieAuthors - Author of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I haven't read GO ASK ALICE, but think it's terrible they misled readers by telling them the story was true.

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

Not a book I have read, but as for the whole getting older part. As I have grown my tastes in literature and media have changed a lot. There are some things I could read and watch as a teenager that make me shudder these days. I think it might be because of a growing sense of my own mortality :)
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Claire Annette said...

I remember reading Go Ask Alice and being really scared. I also thought it was a true story. I wonder how the author researched the book?

Claire Annette said...

I remember reading Go Ask Alice and being really scared. I also thought it was a true story. I wonder how the author researched the book?

Tawnya Rivers said...

I never read this book, but now I want to! Thanks for enlightening me!

Joanne said...

I remember this one and the movie -it made me fear drugs, that's for sure. Also love the Jefferson Airplane song of the same name.

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