Go Ask Alice Summary

Beatrice Sparks

Go Ask Alice

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Go Ask Alice Summary

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Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks is an epistolary work, meaning that is structured as a series of entries such as letters or in this case, a diary. In Go Ask Alice, the diary is written by a teenage girl over a two-year period and chronicles her experiences with drugs—mainly marijuana, acid, and speed. The story takes place in early 1970s America. After publication, Go Ask Alice was exposed as a fraudulent work, not the diary of one girl but cobbled together by an author from the experiences of several people. That doesn’t change the impact created by the hard and honest tone that speaks to how life can fall apart, be rebuilt, fall apart again, and tragically end.

The earliest entries describe Alice’s life before drug use, which was not free from conflict. The narrator’s weight and self-image, along with a difficult relationship with her mother, plague her. She suffers from the pangs of an unrequited crush. Her father’s job transfers the family to a new town, and she expresses hope that she can start a new life there.

Those hopes are quickly dashed when making friends in her new town proves difficult. Meanwhile, her younger siblings—a brother and sister—have an easy time making new friends and fitting in. Eventually, the narrator does make a friend, but when that friend leaves for summer camp, the narrator is thrust back into loneliness.

She’s invited to a party and is keen to attend. There, the narrator takes a hit of acid. She doesn’t do this on purpose; it’s been slipped into her drink. The experience excites her, though afterward she feels guilty for having used drugs. Despite that, she wants to experience a drug trip again, so she starts dropping acid and experimenting with an array of other drugs, such as marijuana, uppers, and downers.

The more she uses drugs, the more rebellious she becomes. She meets a new friend—a girl named Chris—and together they delve deeper into the subculture that surrounds drug use. They deal drugs and become sexually involved with other dealers. When this situation eventually disgusts them, they decide to leave it all behind and run away to San Francisco.

There, they are happy for quite some time. They manage to find regular jobs and start planning to open their own boutique like the one Chris once worked in. Months pass without either of them using substances, but when Chris’s boss invites them to a party, they are faced with an array of drugs. They slip back into old habits, but break from their lifestyle yet again after they’re sexually assaulted by a friend of Chris’s boss.

In order to remove themselves from a culture of drug use, they both quit their jobs and move out of their old apartment and into a new one. They turn their new digs into a jewelry boutique. Soon after, that boutique becomes a refuge for young people like them. Despite that, when Chris and the narrator start to feel homesick, they leave San Francisco and go back to their families. The narrator decides to steer clear of drugs from that moment on.

Though her family lovingly welcomes her home, she faces ridicule when she returns to her school. Her drug user friends resent her. They’re certain she’ll use again and verbally torture her. It’s at this point that she meets Joel, a college student. The diary makes a sudden shift—evidence of a different individual’s experience—and the narrator is back on drugs and running away to Oregon. There, she suffers from her loneliness until she meets a minister who convinces her to call her family. She returns home, once again vowing to stay away from drugs.

Resisting temptation proves difficult as she copes with the deaths of her grandparents and acid flashbacks. Her former friends threaten her and secretly slip her some acid. This time, the trip is bad for the narrator; she hurts herself physically and is committed to a psychiatric hospital. Authorities at the hospital don’t believe her when she says she didn’t intend to drop acid, but she is ultimately released when those who forced her to take the drug confess.

After the narrator leaves the hospital, she appears to get her life back together. She reconnects with Joel and makes other friends. She prepares to perform in a piano recital. She writes about how she’s going to stop journaling because as an adult, she can confide in people instead of in a blank book. She seems to have finally kicked her drug addiction by seeking out the support that can help her battle temptation. The last entry is followed by a note that indicates the narrator was found dead from a drug overdose, just three weeks after the last journal entry was written.