Feb 19, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: Go Ask Alice

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

This week's selection is Go Ask Alice by Anonymous. This diary of an ordinary teenage girl tracks her descent into the monstrous world of drugs. I read it in middle school at the recommendation of the librarian. I will be forever grateful to her for the unique reading opportunities she provided me.

"Alice" is just your average teenager going along in her own little world. She has her up's and down's as is expected of a teen and of course she thinks her parents are "perfect." While her family is attempting to settle into the new town they just moved to, "Alice" is still clinging to her old hometown and friends. She goes to a party with one of her old friends and gets slipped some LSD and it all goes down hill from there.

She manages to fall in with the wrong crowd, namely a girl named Chris, who introduces her to more drugs and the party lifestyle. Eventually things get too hot in their town and the girls runaway to San Francisco where they plan to live a nice, drug-free life. Naturally it doesn't go as planned and the girls end up succumbing to the drugs' calls. There are more ups and downs that cause "Alice's" life to spiral out of control on a downward slope. She can't seem to get away from those who just want her to be high. No matter how hard she tries, she can't seem to stay afloat without the chemical timeouts.

This book opened my eyes to a different world. Some of the references were a little outdated (it was originally published in 1971) even by the time I got it, but the impact was the same. It's validity has been questioned for years, but to me that's kind of a moot point. The fact remains the same that this book changed the way people think about drugs. Nowadays there are countless songs, books, and movies that catalog teen drug use, but for its time, this book was the end all, be all.

For me, this book really changed the types of books I read. Up until this point I had mostly be reading "safe, happy" books like Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, Choose Your Own Adventure books and Animorphs. This book opened up a whole new world that included books like The Body of Christopher Creed, Number the Stars, and Killing Mr. Griffin. Drugs were a really big no-no for me, not only due to personal choice, but I was extremely asthmatic and that would probably not bode well for my health. These books allowed me to see into a world that I would not otherwise know about, from the safety of my own home. This book in particular was my first real glimpse at how horrible life can go if you aren't constantly vigilant in your pursuits.

If you have not already read this book, I consider it a must read for everyone. There is just rawness and power in this book that paved the way for such books as Crank, Love You Hate You Miss You and After. It's heart-wrenching, but well-done. "Alice" could honestly be any teen and that's what's so frightening about this story. Give it a shot. Have you read it?


Jo said...

I haven't thought about this book for a long, long time -- but your posting has made me want to revisit it. And I really like your idea of "Nostalgic Friday" ! :)

loreleimarsh said...

Thank you so much for your feedback! I like it too, I might open it up for contributors if I start to run out of ideas.

Mardel said...

I read this when it first came out (god, I'm so old!). I remember feeling a little sad for the girl. Of course it didn't stop me from my rebellion a few years later. Too bad. I was 11 when I read it though, not sure if that made a difference.