Just Ask Alice!

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The diarist was found dead in her home by her parents when they returned from a movie. She died from a drug overdose, either accidental or premeditated. The anonymous diarist's name is never revealed in the book. Despite the lack of any evidence in the book that the diarist's name is Alice, the covers of various editions have suggested that her name is Alice by including blurb text such as "This is Alice's true story" [22] and "You can't ask Alice anything anymore.

But you can do something—read her diary. In the television film based on the book, the protagonist played by Jamie Smith-Jackson is named "Alice".

Go ask ALICE

The manuscript that later became Go Ask Alice was initially prepared for publication by Beatrice Sparks , a Mormon therapist and youth counselor then in her early 50s, who had previously done various forms of writing. Sparks had reportedly noted that the general public at that time lacked knowledge about youth drug abuse, and she likely had both educational and moral motives for publishing the book.

With the help of Art Linkletter , a popular talk show host for whom Sparks had worked as a ghostwriter , the manuscript was passed on to Linkletter's literary agent, who sold it to Prentice Hall. Upon its publication, Go Ask Alice quickly became a publishing sensation [33] and an international bestseller, being translated into 16 languages. Libraries had difficulty obtaining and keeping enough copies of the book on the shelves to meet demand.

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By , more than three million copies of the book had reportedly been sold, [31] and by the paperback edition had been reprinted 43 times. The book remained continuously in print over the ensuing decades, with reported sales of over four million copies by , [1] and over five million copies by Go Ask Alice received positive initial reviews, including praise from Webster Schott in The New York Times , who called it an "extraordinary work", a "superior work" and a "document of horrifying reality [that] possesses literary quality".

Years after its publication, Go Ask Alice continued to receive some good reviews, often in the context of defending the book against censors see Censorship. However, starting in the s, the book began to draw criticism for its heavy-handedness, melodramatic style and inauthenticity, in view of the growing consciousness that it was fiction rather than a real teenager's diary see Authorship and veracity controversies.

Although school boards and committees reached varying conclusions about whether Go Ask Alice had literary value, [31] [32] educators generally viewed it as a strong cautionary warning against drug use. However, some adults who read the book as teens or pre-teens have written that they paid little attention to the anti-drug message and instead related to the diarist's thoughts and emotions, [9] [45] or vicariously experienced the thrills of her rebellious behavior.

Although Go Ask Alice has been credited to an anonymous author since its publication, and was originally promoted as the real, albeit edited, diary of a real teenage girl, over time the book has come to be regarded by researchers as a fake memoir written by Beatrice Sparks, [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [10] [26] possibly with the help of one or more co-authors.


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Go Ask Alice was originally published by Prentice Hall in as the work of an unnamed author "Anonymous". The original edition contained a note signed by "The Editors" that included the statements, " Go Ask Alice is based on the actual diary of a fifteen-year-old drug user Names, dates, places and certain events have been changed in accordance with the wishes of those concerned. Upon its publication, almost all contemporary reviewers and the general public accepted it as primarily authored by an anonymous teenager. According to Lauren Adams, Publishers Weekly magazine was the only source to question the book's authenticity on the grounds that it "seem[ed] awfully well written".

Not long after Go Ask Alice ' s publication, Beatrice Sparks began making public appearances presenting herself as the book's editor. In an article by Nilsen, based in part on interviews with Sparks and published in the October issue of School Library Journal , Sparks said that she had received the diaries that became Go Ask Alice from a girl she had befriended at a youth conference. The girl allegedly gave Sparks her diaries in order to help Sparks understand the experiences of young drug users and to prevent her parents from reading them.

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According to Sparks, the girl later died, although not of an overdose. Sparks said she had then transcribed the diaries, destroying parts of them in the process with the remaining portions locked in the publisher's vault and unavailable for review by Nilsen or other investigators , and added various fictional elements, including the overdose death.

Although Sparks did not confirm or deny the allegations that the diarist's parents had threatened a lawsuit, she did say that in order to get a release from the parents, she had only sought to use the diaries as a "basis to which she would add other incidents and thoughts gleaned from similar case studies," according to Nilsen. Nilsen wrote that Sparks now wanted to be seen as the author of the popular Go Ask Alice in order to promote additional books in the same vein that she had published or was planning to publish.

These books included Jay's Journal , another alleged diary of a real teenager that Sparks was later accused of mostly authoring herself. Urban folklore expert Barbara Mikkelson of snopes. According to Mikkelson, the writing style and content—including a lengthy description of an LSD trip but relatively little about "the loss of [the diarist's] one true love", school, gossip or ordinary "chit-chat"— seems uncharacteristic of a teenage girl's diary. In hindsight, commentators have suggested various motivations for the publishers to present Go Ask Alice as the work of an anonymous deceased teenager, such as avoiding literary criticism, [26] lending validity to an otherwise improbable story, [26] and stimulating young readers' interest by having the book's anti-drug advice come from a teenager rather than an adult.

Sparks said that while there were "many reasons" for publishing the book anonymously, her main reason was to make it more credible to young readers. Sparks was involved in a similar controversy regarding the veracity of her second diary project, the book Jay's Journal. It was allegedly the real diary, edited by Sparks, of a teenage boy who committed suicide after becoming involved with the occult.

Just Ask 'Alice'

Some commentators have noted that these books use writing styles similar to Go Ask Alice [34] and contain similar themes, such as tragic consequences for spending time with bad companions, a protagonist who initially gets into trouble by accident or through someone else's actions, and portrayal of premarital sex and homosexuality as always wrong. He identified Linda Glovach, an author of young-adult novels , as "one of the 'preparers'—let's call them forgers—of Go Ask Alice ", although he did not give his source for this claim.

Following Sparks' statements that she had added fictional elements to Go Ask Alice , the book was classified by its publishers as fiction and remains so classified as of and a disclaimer was added to the copyright page: "This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously.

Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Despite the classification and the disclaimer, Go Ask Alice has frequently been taught as non-fiction in schools and sold as non-fiction in bookstores.

Go Ask Alice has been a frequent target of censorship challenges due to its inclusion of profanity and references to runaways, drugs, sex and rape. Some challenges resulted in the removal of the book from libraries, or in parental permission being required for a student to check the book out of a library. Decades after its original publication, Go Ask Alice became one of the most challenged books of the s and s. The likely authoring of the book by one or more adults rather than by an unnamed teenage girl has not been an issue in censorship disputes.

Stand-up comedian Paul F. Tompkins ' comedy album Freak Wharf contains a track entitled "Go Ask Alice" in which he derides the book as "the phoniest of balonies" and jokingly suggests it was authored by the writing staff of the police drama series Dragnet. The album title itself comes from a passage in the book in which the diarist refers to a mental hospital as a "freak wharf". American metalcore band Ice Nine Kills included a song related to the book, entitled "Alice", on their album Every Trick in the Book. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Archived from the original on Retrieved — via Proquest.

Retrieved Memoir: A History. Urban Legends Reference Pages.

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New York City: Bustle. Publishers Weekly. New York City: publishersweekly. Bennington Banner.

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Bennington, Vermont. Retrieved — via Newspapers. Clarksville, Tennessee. The Times. San Mateo County, California.


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The Cincinnati Enquirer. The Arizona Republic. Phoenix, Arizona. BBC News. Cincinnati, Ohio. The book's subject we are never given her name, but assume she is Alice comes from a normal, middle-class family Go Ask Alice Avon Books paperback ed. New York City: Prentice-Hall published If I don't give Big Ass a blow he'll cut off my supply Big Ass makes me do it before he gives me the load.

Everybody is just lying around here like they're dead and Little Jacon is yelling, 'Mama, Daddy can't come now. He's humping Carla.

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Girl Detective blog. Then I talked to Alice, who I met just sitting stoned on the curb. She didn't know whether she was running away from something or running to something, but she admitted that deep in her heart she wanted to go home. Go Ask Alice Mandarin Paperbacks ed. London: Arrow Books published Front cover. Go Ask Alice First paperback ed.

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