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Banned Books Books Young Adult

Revisiting Banned Book: Go Ask Alice

Revisiting Go Ask Alice:  I know schools are still requiring this book.  Since my original post I’ve discovered that research suggests that this book is truly a work of fiction and not based on a real person.

Wow. Go Ask Alice is my current read for Banned Books Week. And all I can say is: Wow. Seriously.  Supposedly based on a diary of a young teenage girl, the book had me gripped from beginning to end.

I’m sure the book was banned due to its drug use and sex references. But, unlike some books (and many movies) these  experiences are NOT glamorized at all. At ALL.  The main character (whom I do NOT believe to be named Alice, although she references an Alice) complains and suffers bitterly because of her drug use.

If she could do a PSA I’m pretty sure she would say “don’t use drugs. ever!” But, alas, she does not get the chance.

Multiculturalism is a sticky wicket in this book.  I am 100% certain that all the characters in this book are Anglo, however, the main character does interact with her Jewish friend.  The setting is a middle class neighborhood in the early 70s where mothers still stayed at home, etc.  The sticky wicket is the drug activity.  A few references to homosexuality bump this book up to slightly more pluralistic viewpoint than many of the other books I’ve read recently.

Something scary about this? I just NOW noticed that there is a face on the cover of this book.  Wow.  Never saw that before and I look at this book OFTEN.

I HIGHLY recommend that you read this book with your children. Young teens (13+) need to get this lesson.

I wonder why it wasn’t made into a movie?

This is a Four Paw read if there ever was!

By Pam

My passion is advocating for diversity in children's and YA literature.

19 replies on “Revisiting Banned Book: Go Ask Alice”

Found your website via the Blog Hop! 🙂 Banned Books Week sort of passed me by, I just completely missed it…wish I hadn’t, because I would’ve loved to read something new on the list. Go Ask Alice seems like a heavy read…worthwhile, though, I imagine. Sometimes I think this frankness is necessary when dealing with teens, I have family members who got into major drug problems as teens and the family was at a loss as to how to help them. It was very sad, because I used to be close to them but because I was younger by 6 years my mom started keeping me away from them. She didn’t want the same thing to happen to me. I’m happy to say that they beat the addiction after ten years, but they missed out on so much. I wish I had a book like this to read or to get them to read.

On a happier note, AT&FFS is absolutely hilarious! I LOVED this book series in high school. In fact I still find them damn amusing, but I reread them many, many times. I only recently found out there was a movie and I STILL haven’t seen it.

Happy Blogging!

I am SO glad to hear that your family members beat that addiction. i would hate to hear otherwise (as in Alice). So far, I’m REALLY enjoying AT&FFS! My daughter (13) turned me onto it initially and it reminds me of a much younger Bridget Jones!

Read this book in Jr. High. And back then it was “OOOOH, you read ‘Go Ask Alic’?” It was such a controversial book. I really hoped she kicked the habit. Now that I’m a parent, I see the parents side of all this. The frustration and sadness they must have gone through watching their daughter just waste away, then try to come back. A truly moving book.

I think I read this book in eighth grade…I even owned a copy of it! The book was scary and depressing. It definitely sent an anti-drug message to me! While its a harsh topic, it definitely needs to be read and discussed with teens.

Unfortunately, Go Ask Alice is a hoax. The book was published and marketed for years as “a real diary,” ostensibly the diary of a psychiatrists’ client now being published after the diarist’s death from an overdose as an object lesson to young people. But it turned out to be (and was finally admitted to be) a complete fabrication. (See )

I read it when it first came out, when I was 14, and even then I was highly skeptical. It just didn’t pass the “sniff test” for me, and seemed too obvious a cautionary tale, designed to be all negative and all scary–just a couple of rungs above “Reefer Madness.” I wasn’t surprised when it turned out to be fraudulent.

I would never recommend this book to anyone, for this reason. I don’t agree that it, or any other, should be “banned,” but people who read it–especially young people–ought to know that it was created as a form of manipulation and was published under false pretenses.

It was made into a movie, BTW: an ABC Movie of The Week broadcast in January, 1973.

I, too, have heard the rumors over the years about this book. Regardless of it’s origins, I still feel that this is a book worth reading as it still shows the negative side effects of this kind of lifestyle. There are probably many other manipulations in the form of books today and in the past.

Complete fabrication or not, the book sounds gripping and raw. I am going to look into it. Thanks for the review.

So. Way back in the day there was something called “Afterschool Specials” on ABC. These specials would highlight some issue: drug abuse, drinking, bullying etc and would be quite riveting to my 11 year old mind. At the time I didn’t have instant access to everything that happens as it happened and thought these Afterschool specials were enough to keep me on track. My grown up mind most certainly can see the obvious manipulation but as a mom I think my kid needs some guidance away from the glamour filled look at drugs and wild behavior and a grittier look at what the real deal is.

Go Ask Alice was one of the most memorabel books that I read in high school. Definitely a must read for girls!

I read go ask Alice many times as a teenager and thought it was a good book then and still think it was a good book now. I last read it a year ago. Whether it was a real diary or not doesn’t matter. The story was good, it was engaging and a real pager turner. I understand that the drug and sexual references were abundant, but banning the book seems extreme.

Great synopsis of the book, I’m looking for more books to read. I’ll be sure to pick write this down on my list && I’ll be back for more suggestions!

I agree with Becky, it’s one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read. I’d always assumed it was fiction, and still, very gripping.

I’m surprised to see how many books are on the banned list; I may have to check this book out, not sure how my sisters will feel if I bought it for their kids though :/

I remember reading this as a kid (or young teen) and it was shelved in the adult section. The librarians had permission for me to get adult books but other kids were unable to check the book out and so would hide in the library and read it there. Unfortunately it didn’t do enough to teach me a lesson, as I had plenty of my own horrible experiences later as a teen and early adult. Luckily I got my act together by the time I had my daughter in my mid 20’s. I really do hope that more teens read it and take the message to heart. Drugs are NOT good!

thank you for sharing your story. isnt it great that we get a do over and try to get our kids to steer clear of the dumb mistakes we made?

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