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Go Ask Alice: A Real Diary    by Anonymous order for
Go Ask Alice
by Anonymous
Order:  USA  Can
Pulse, 1998 (1988)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Go Ask Alice, first published in 1971, is the disturbing tale (in diary format) of a teenage girl's journey into addiction. The editors tell us that it's based on 'the actual diary of a fifteen-year-old drug user.' Readers share her hopes, fears, love for her family, desire to do what's right, and tremendous insecurities.

This teen girl is a bit of a drama queen, especially after being rejected by her first major crush. She has low self-esteem, and obsesses over her weight and her relationship with her mother. She's a nice kid. Of her peers she says, 'Sometimes I think we're all trying to be shadows of each other ... Kids are like robots, off an assembly line, and I don't want to be a robot!' When the family moves to a new town, she's scared of being a 'social outcast'. Like all teens, she's vulnerable. Her siblings are happy, but this anonymous girl often feels 'on the outside just looking in on my own family'. At a party, she is slipped LSD in a bottle of coke, and the experience makes her curious - 'I feel like Alice in Wonderland.' She experiments with drugs and with sex, riding a rollercoaster from elation to 'doubts and apprehensions and fears'. To cope with the latter, she takes tranquillizers and sleeping pills.

Her parents care. They notice a change and 'talked and talked and talked, but never once did they even hear one thing I was trying to say to them ... If only parents would listen!' A new friend gets her a job and supplies drugs. She begins to sell them to please a new boyfriend. She drops out of high school and heads to San Francisco. She wonders 'how much further astray could I go?' and then tells us in further diary entries. She goes home periodically, but runs away again. She fears, 'I'm losing my mind. Please God, help me.' Her high school reputation relentlessly pulls her down. Of course, this harrowing story ultimately ends badly, and readers feel for both the young woman and her family. Go Ask Alice has already sold over four million copies, and it deserves an even bigger (teen and adult) audience.

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