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Go Ask Alice
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a no-holds-barred vivid picture of the life of a teen heavily addicted to drugs during the 1960s. Presented as a real-life diary published under the name "Anonymous," it was actually a cautionary tale written by the late Beatrice Sparks, a therapist and Mormon youth counselor. While some of the scenes and language may feel dated, the book still carries tremendous emotional power and feels authentic. Teen characters are involved in drugs, prostitution, etc., but the shocking reality of this book has been credited with keeping many teens from trying drugs. Though the writing may not be literary, but its truth comes through on every page. The story is riveting -- even reluctant readers will devour it. The book is a powerful way for teens to really experience the tragic consequences of drug addiction.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
We never learn her name. She's 15, the daughter of a college professor. She's given LSD at a party and loves it. She dives into the drug world, and soon begins selling to children to pay for her own drugs. She runs away and is again drawn into drugs. She returns home determined to stay clean, but takes drugs one night and hitchhikes to Colorado.
She drifts, sick and in a stoned fog for months, trading sex for drugs. A priest calls her parents and she returns home again, but the druggie students at her school torment her. One puts LSD into some candy and she has a horribly bad trip, ending up imprisoned in a mental hospital. Home again with no desire to return to drugs, she feels hopeful, but fears returning to school. The story ends with tragedy.
Is it any good?
This book socks readers in the gut. Only parents can decide if they want their children to read GO ASK ALICE; they know their children best, and may wish to read the book themselves before deciding. Clearly, the book is intense: It graphically describes the waking hell into which the main character descends, her heartfelt but futile battles to return home and stay clean, her pleas to God to save her, her trust and love for her family, and her ultimate failure.
Many realistic young adult books use frank language, but none more so than this book. Purportedly based on the real diary of a middle-class, nice teen girl who became a drug addict in the 1960s, this story is nothing short of harrowing -- and that's why it works. Teens who read the book easily sense that it tells the truth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about drugs in our culture. Why do people think they are cool? What forces in media make drug taking look better than it is?
How does the main character view herself when she's sober?How does her self-image change when she uses drugs? Do you think she really believes her excuses for her actions?
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