Go Ask Alice (Sort of a review, but more of a questioning)


Go Ask Alice is a memoir that follows the diary of a teenage girl during the late sixties. Everything seems normal at first, but that soon changes when she is enticed into the world of drugs. Her habit eventually becomes a problem, leading her to run away from home numerous times, before landing herself into serious danger.

I felt so many different emotions for the girl, especially towards the end of the novel, it was as if I were in her head, and I genuinely felt how lost, scared and desperate she must have been. I recommended this book to a few friends, praising it for its honesty and realism; now imagine what went through my head when I found out the entire book was a lie! 

The book became a best seller during the seventies, and was also banned by many schools and libraries due to its explicit content. It was believed to be the real diary of a teenage drug addict, that had been published by her parents. It remained this way until the mid eighties, when it came under scrutiny and later declared as a work of fiction written by Beatrice Sparks. But does it really matter that it is entirely fake? and if not, is it okay for other people to now do the same thing? 

After some extensive research (or procrastination from doing my History Coursework) I discovered that Beatrice Sparks is in fact a Psychiatrist, and that she has written several 'author anonymous' diary style memoirs, all of which are apparently based on her patients. This in my opinion is a breech of Doctor/Patient confidentiality, however neither her patients, or their parents have come forward confirming the truth behind her statement, thus leaving her in a bit of a pickle. The question of whether she has taken her patients lives and turned them into a series of stories, or if they are completely fabricated still remains unanswered. 

It could be argued though, that as she was a psychiatrist, she created the book as a way to open peoples eyes about drug abuse, and stated it was a memoir/real journal in order to show people that these things do happen. But a valid excuse doesn't mean that it was okay for her to have done that. 

Sparks wrote something that is completely untrue, and passed it off as the truth for over a decade. People were exploited and made to believe that the anonymous narrator in Go Ask Alice was a real girl that went through all of these hardships, and quite frankly that is just plain insulting to anyone who has been through any of the things she wrote about. If she was trying to get her point across that these things do happen, she could have stated it was fiction from the very beginning, but whether it would have been as widely received is another matter. 

Truth sells. People like to read things they know are true, as they can relate it to their own lives, and gain perspective on some of the events they have been through. If something is marketed as truth, it automatically affects the credibility of it, if you were doing an essay on children that lived in foster homes, you would more or less look for a text book, or something marked as truth, over Jacquline Wilson's Tracy Beaker, as you know that it is going to be more reliable. 

We could also question if she published it this way to make money, or did she genuinely want to spread her concern and bring certain issues to light? 

I tried to contact Sparks, hoping to find answers to my questions, only to find out that she is dead. I Guess we will never know the true reasons behind why she did it.

The novel is still printed today although it is now categorised as fiction, but the author still remains as 'Anonymous' 

Peace out xoxo 

Other memoirs that are fake, or largely fabricated include: 

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