Go Ask Alice

My 9-yr old daughter is reading a book written in the style of a teenager’s diary, which apparently describes some distressing events such as the physical abuse of the “author” by her older brother. I said something about reading “Go Ask Alice” when I was in middle school, and my wife looked at me blankly - not only had she never read it, she had never heard of it.

I thought it was one of those books that just about everyone read at that age, and at that time (this would have been in the early 80’s). There was some kerfluffle about it being removed from libraries due to objectionable content - per Wikipedia I see my home state tried to do so around the time that I read it, which probably boosted its popularity among my cohort. But I always assumed that it was considered a classic young adult novel - maybe not great literature, but somewhat of a cultural touchstone.

If you grew up the 80’s or 90’s, did you read it? Have you at least heard of it? If you’re younger, is it still known today?

(It was also made into a movie in the early 70’s with William Shatner as the diarist’s dad!)

I’m 31. I was never assigned it in grade school or high school but I did read it at some point as a teenager. I was aware of it as one of those books that teenagers read at some point.

Right, I don’t think even today it would be assigned reading. First because it’s not exactly classic literature, but also because of the subject matter. I’m sure I read it on the sly.

I’m 35, we passed that bad boy AROUND.

From what I remember it was first marketed as autobiographical but was found to be totally made up. To me it was clearly an adult’s idea of how a nice girl ends up a messed up xrug addict. Sort of like Reefer Madness for the '70s.

I’m 43. Never heard of it.

It wasn’t assigned reading, but it definitely made the rounds when I was in 8th grade, so the early 80s. Biggirl is right, it was billed at the time as a real diary, but it turned out to be fiction (something which I think would be immediately obvious to anyone reading it as an adult).

There was another one by the same publisher, along the same lines, although it wasn’t as well known. Jay’s Journal … about the perils of SATANISM. It terrified me as a kid, now it reads like laugh-out-loud satire.

I’m curious about what book your daughter is reading now.

I vaguely recall reading it as a teen in the 1970s. I believe my mother gave it to me to read so that I would not become a druggie.

I didn’t know the story had been debunked. Interesting!

Same author actually. The author’s name is Beatrice Sparks and she wrote several of these types of stories. She was a therapist and claimed that her stories were based upon the experiences of her patients but she never produced any of these diaries for review. I think it’s assumed that she made it all up.

I’m 47 and this is the first I’ve heard of it.

  1. Heard of it, never read it. Was it intended only for girls?

Now I got White Rabbit stuck in my head…

I read it in 1991, when my freshman college roommate had a copy. By that point it was more “haha drug horror stories” than anything else. I don’t recall if I was familiar with the book’s existence before that.

I read it early in high school, when I was, ahem, rather interested in the topic of psychoactive drugs. It felt a little fishy at the time and I wasn’t 100% surprised to find out it was made up.

I’m 60 and I read it.

I’ve never read it, but I remember my sister reading it when she was about seventeen, which would have been in the mid-seventies. All I knew was that it was a book about drugs.

I’m 46 and I remember that it was one of the most popular books in the young adult section on the public library, only to be shadowed by anything by Judy Blume.

I was in high school in the seventies, and I remember the book (and movie) well.

I’m 55, and NEVER read it, but I’ve definitely heard of it. In the early to mid-Seventies, loads of girls I knew read it. Several teachers I knew recommended it, as a sort of “Scared Straight” anti-drug preventive measure.

It had already fallen out of favor and earned a reputation for being hokey before it was revealed as a fraud.

I was a voracious reader as a kid, so I’m not sure if I read it in the late 70s or early 80s. It was big enough and made the rounds in the same way as Mike Warnke’s Satan Seller or another of that ilk, Michelle Remembers. By the time I got to them, they were debunked not too long afterwards, so they never quite had the impact that they originally packed.

And yeah, Judy Blume was HUGE.

I’m almost 48.

I’m 45, and we read it in an Adolescent Literature class in college (back in the early 90s). I’d not heard of it prior to that. I remember thinking at the time it was obviously fiction and not someone’s real diary, and couldn’t believe anyone had ever thought otherwise. Of course, I was also a cynical college student at the time…