November 1, Book 21: Go Ask Alice, Anonymous

Posted on 01.11.2012

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I actually read this book when I was maybe 14. I definitely related a lot better to it then than I do now.

I ordered this book and re-read it in order to see if I could/should use it for my Cultural Studies class. It only took me a few hours, as it’s a younger reading level and written in the ‘dear diary’ fashion. First published in ’71, the book had a few different controversies surrounding it, the least of which was whether or not kids (or teenagers, who the book is clearly marketed to) should be reading its somewhat graphic descriptions of drug usage and everything that comes with it (read: teenage angst, sex, running away, abuse/rape, etc).

The controversy topic that definitely hit me harder this time (as opposed to the last time I read it) was whether or not it was actually written by a 15-year-old drug user. Maybe at 14 I was able to write off the language as that of a teen from a previous decade, but as a 30-year old (on my last days of the year), it seems just slightly more contrived than I had originally thought. Add to this my very low tolerance for people who complain and don’t seem to actually DO anything to fix their problems, and the mindless rantings of immature people, and I wasn’t going to enjoy it nearly as much as last time.

Maybe last time I needed to read it. One thing is certain: I never got into drugs after reading this book, and I clearly remember thinking (at the time of first reading) that it was good this book was published, since it pretty much told me everything that COULD happen when using any of a wide variety of drugs mentioned in the book… If anything kept me OFF of drugs, it was this more than my mother’s threats. And seeing how my friends at the time acted while under the influence of anything (which is to say, stupid).

My own personal experience (or non-experience) aside, it does seem to read as a ‘don’t do drugs, kids’ lecture. It definitely reads like it was written by an adult or someone who never got that deep into things, maybe someone like a counselor.

“This is Alice’s true story” is written on the front cover. Meh.

The only reasons I say this are really the language and the back-and-forth of the story. The language is a bit TOO full of buzz words (even for someone born 10 years after first publication) to be written or spoken by an actual teen, IMO. Also, the constant ‘back to god’ that happens whenever she cleans up seems a little too thickly laid on, if you know what I mean. Sure, this was a different decade and she grew up in a different time than me, and religion has NEVER been a big part of my life… but still, it makes me think ‘contrived’. Just a little.

And when books are written by anonymous, we really will never know.

Either way, I read it again, marked some pages I plan to use, and am happy to have re-read it.

It’s funny the things you forget about books, or plot points, until you go back and re-read them. I forgot a lot of things until I was just about to re-read them, and then knew exactly what would happen. Book de javu?

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