Go Ask Alice

Let’s have a show of hands from those of you who checked this book out of your junior high school library, passed it around with your friends, and never let your parents see you read it. I thought so!

“Go Ask Alice” was first published in 1971. It told a cautionary tale of the horrors of drug addiction, as seen through the eyes of an unnamed 15-year-old girl. The book is written as a diary, and the author of the book is listed as “Anonymous.” But in 1979 it was revealed that the book was written by a woman named Beatrice Sparks, a psychologist who worked at a mental hospital in Utah. Sparks claimed that the book was based on diary entries of a girl who was a patient in the hospital in which she had worked, but admitted fictionalizing a great deal of the story. Sparks later went on to write several more “diaries” of “former patients,” the authenticity of which have also been doubted.

When I read “Go Ask Alice” in seventh grade it had not yet been revealed to be largely a work of fiction. I thought it was real, and it scared me straight!

The title of the book is taken from a line in the Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit,” which uses the Alice in Wonderland story as an extended metaphor for a drug trip.