Go Ask Alice

Common Sense Media says

Authentic, tragic portrayal of teen drug use - a classic.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Drugs are a part of the culture. Readers will learn a great deal about the reality of being drug addicted.

Positive messages

A dramatic chronicling of drug addiction that comes across with a power and authenticity that makes the anti-drug message stronger.

Positive role models

The main character enjoys taking drugs, lies to her parents, and runs away.  But she makes sincere attempts to go straight. This book shows kids that druggies aren't glamorous but tortured.


The main character is raped and assaulted. Main character hallucinates that she is being eaten by worms after taking LSD. Extremely distressing due to its honesty about the subject.


Frequent references to sexual acts, but no descriptions given.


Drug addicts use profanity, some of the slang is really dated.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

This is a book about the perils of drug addiction so it's full of drug taking and selling. But since the message of the book is ultimately cautionary, the drugs are required to tell the tale.

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. 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 teenagers 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?


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. It socks readers in the gut.

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 teenage girl who became a drug addict in the 1960s, this story is nothing short of harrowing -- and that's why it works. Teenagers who read the book easily sense that it tells the truth.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:January 1, 1971
Number of pages:189
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 14

This review of Go Ask Alice was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bybabe1230 April 29, 2011

Don't shoot it down for what it is

Yes, this book is not innocent. The reader has to be mature, but the book should not be shot down because some people are too immature to read it. It has very good information, the emotion in it is outstanding, and the book overall is one of the best books I have ever read. Be advised, it is NOT a book for younger children.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byFutureEnglishTeacher September 29, 2011

How else should kids learn?

I think it is important for kids to read about things that are bad. Parent anti- drug talks are lame and no kid wants to listen to what their parents have to say. This book allows kids to learn about the effects drugs can have on their lives. Maybe this should be the new anti-drug campaign... To comment on the bad language and violence and drug comments of others: Well DUH! That's the point. This is real life stuff. You would never believe what kids are really doing these days. I think they need to read about what could happen if they don't think about their actions. Without books like this, kids will just have to try these things on their own instead of reading about it....
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written byXxGrAwRxX May 10, 2011

About Drugs, But Teaches You Why NOT To Do Them.

Its Definitely Only For 12 And Up It Has Alot Of Sexual Talk And Alot Of Bad Language And Things About Drugs. It Was A Good And Very Touching Book Though. I think It Definitely Teaches Kids To Stay Away From Drugs Because In The Book Gradually You Can See Her Getting More And More Addicted And Going Down A Bad Path. I'm Very Glad I Read The Book. It Was Amazing <3
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
Great messages


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