Go Ask Alice is the first-person tale of an accidental downward spiral into drugs, alcohol, unwanted sex, and impoverished living. Go Ask Alice has been around for decades, and is even being used as reading material in high schools. This is my second read of Go Ask Alice, and I loved it just as much the second time around.
I’m an advocate for banned stories that teach difficult lessons the easier way, and Go Ask Alice definitely falls into this category. This book is an honest account of a young person finding themselves accidentally in the world of addiction. Our protagonist doesn’t fall into this bottomless pit because she seeks out drugs, but rather she was drugged. Without her knowledge. Once this accidental LSD trip is over, curiosity sets in: what are other drugs like? Is pot a better trip because of its herbal, laid-back qualities?
This one accidental trip sets the catalyst for everything else. The protagonist of Go Ask Alice starts asking questions about—and wanting to try things—that she might never have had interest in if she hadn’t touched drugs.
This is all an accident, but it is an accident that irreparably changes a life.
** Spoilers ahead. **
Other stories about addiction, at least the ones I’ve read, mostly have the choice to take drugs in the hands of the user. In Crank, Kristina chooses to use meth with her new boyfriend. Looking For Alaska‘s Alaska chooses to smoke pot and drink alcohol. In Go Ask Alice, however, this choice is taken away. I think that makes the story that much more difficult to swallow.
This unnamed protagonist (who was a real, live girl in the eighties) didn’t choose addiction. She didn’t choose to have schizophrenic tendencies. She didn’t choose to rip at her own skin in a drug-induced rage. Tearing her own nails right out of her fingers and her own hair out of her head was not a choice. That first trip wasn’t her choice, and it decided her fate.
Go Ask Alice is a cautionary tale, sure. However, it is not just a cautionary tale about addiction. This story warns of the vindictive, spiteful, terrifying reality that people do get drugged by accident. Not every addict in the world put themselves there. We, as a society, have so little tolerance for addicts, assuming they are where they are because they’ve made bad decisions. This isn’t always the case.
Go Ask Alice reminds us all that we never really know what’s going on behind others’ closed doors, and compassion can go a long way.
My full review of the anonymous Go Ask Alice is also available on Goodreads. Have you read Go Ask Alice? Please leave a comment below (spoiler free)!