Slick's song is understood as using Carroll's story as a metaphor for a drug experience. The dates and locations mentioned in the book place its events as occurring between and in California , Colorado , Oregon , and New York City. The two towns in which the diarist's family reside during the story are not identified, and are only described as being college towns.
The diarist's father, a college professor, accepts a dean position at a new college, causing the family to relocate. The diarist has difficulty adjusting to her new school, but soon becomes best friends with a girl named Beth.
When Beth leaves for summer camp, the diarist returns to her hometown to stay with her grandparents. She meets an old school acquaintance, who invites her to a party. There, glasses of cola —some of which are laced with LSD —are served. The diarist unwittingly ingests LSD and has an intense and pleasurable trip. Over the following days the diarist socializes with the other teens from the party, willingly uses more drugs, and loses her virginity while on LSD.
She worries that she may be pregnant, and her grandfather has a minor heart attack. Overwhelmed by her worries, the diarist begins to take sleeping pills, first stolen from her grandparents, then later prescribed by her doctor upon returning home. Her friendship with Beth ends, as both girls have moved in new directions. The diarist befriends a hip girl, Chris, with whom she continues to use drugs.
They date college students Richie and Ted, who deal drugs and persuade the two girls to help them by selling drugs at schools. When the girls walk in on Richie and Ted stoned and having sex with each other, they realize their boyfriends were just using them to make money. The girls report Richie and Ted to the police and flee to San Francisco.
Chris gets a job in a boutique with a glamorous older woman, Sheila. Sheila invites both girls to lavish parties, where they resume taking drugs. One night Sheila and her new boyfriend introduce the girls to heroin and brutally rape them while they are under the influence of the drug.
Traumatized, the diarist and Chris move to Berkeley where they open a jewelry shop. Although the shop is a success, they quickly grow tired of it and miss their families; they return home for a happy Christmas.
Back at home, the diarist encounters social pressure from her drug scene friends, and has problems getting along with her parents. Chris and the diarist try to stay away from drugs, but their resolve lapses and they end up on probation after being caught in a police raid.
The diarist gets high one night and runs away. She travels to several cities, hitchhiking partway with a girl named Doris who is a victim of child sexual abuse. The diarist continues to use drugs, supporting her habit through prostitution , and experiences homelessness before a priest reunites her with her family. Now determined to avoid drugs, she faces hostility from her former friends, especially after she calls the parents of one girl who shows up high for a babysitting job.
The diarist's former friends harass her at school and threaten her and her family. They eventually drug her against her will; she has a bad trip resulting in physical and mental damage, and is sent to a psychiatric hospital.
There she bonds with a younger girl named Babbie, who has also been a drug addict and child prostitute. Released from the hospital, the diarist returns home, finally free of drugs. She now gets along better with her family, makes new friends, and is romantically involved with Joel, a responsible student from her father's college. She is worried about starting school again, but feels stronger with the support of her new friends and Joel. In an optimistic mood, the diarist decides to stop keeping a diary and instead discuss her problems and thoughts with other people.
The epilogue states that the subject of the book died three weeks after the final entry. The diarist was found dead in her home by her parents when they returned from a movie. She died from a drug overdose, either accidental or premeditated. Diarist's name[ edit ] The anonymous diarist's name is never revealed in the book. But you can do something—read her diary. Sparks had reportedly noted that the general public at that time lacked knowledge about youth drug abuse, and she likely had both educational and moral motives for publishing the book.
With the help of Art Linkletter , a popular talk show host for whom Sparks had worked as a ghostwriter , the manuscript was passed on to Linkletter's literary agent, who sold it to Prentice Hall. By , more than three million copies of the book had reportedly been sold,  and by the paperback edition had been reprinted 43 times. The book remained continuously in print over the ensuing decades, with reported sales of over four million copies by ,  and over five million copies by However, some adults who read the book as teens or pre-teens have written that they paid little attention to the anti-drug message and instead related to the diarist's thoughts and emotions,   or vicariously experienced the thrills of her rebellious behavior.
Authorship and veracity controversies[ edit ] Although Go Ask Alice has been credited to an anonymous author since its publication, and was originally promoted as the real, albeit edited, diary of a real teenage girl, over time the book has come to be regarded by researchers as a fake memoir written by Beatrice Sparks,        possibly with the help of one or more co-authors.
The original edition contained a note signed by "The Editors" that included the statements, "Go Ask Alice is based on the actual diary of a fifteen-year-old drug user Names, dates, places and certain events have been changed in accordance with the wishes of those concerned. Upon its publication, almost all contemporary reviewers and the general public accepted it as primarily authored by an anonymous teenager. According to Lauren Adams, Publishers Weekly magazine was the only source to question the book's authenticity on the grounds that it "seem[ed] awfully well written".
The girl allegedly gave Sparks her diaries in order to help Sparks understand the experiences of young drug users and to prevent her parents from reading them. According to Sparks, the girl later died, although not of an overdose. Sparks said she had then transcribed the diaries, destroying parts of them in the process with the remaining portions locked in the publisher's vault and unavailable for review by Nilsen or other investigators , and added various fictional elements, including the overdose death.
Although Sparks did not confirm or deny the allegations that the diarist's parents had threatened a lawsuit, she did say that in order to get a release from the parents, she had only sought to use the diaries as a "basis to which she would add other incidents and thoughts gleaned from similar case studies," according to Nilsen.
These books included Jay's Journal, another alleged diary of a real teenager that Sparks was later accused of mostly authoring herself. According to Mikkelson, the writing style and content—including a lengthy description of an LSD trip but relatively little about "the loss of [the diarist's] one true love", school, gossip or ordinary "chit-chat"— seems uncharacteristic of a teenage girl's diary.
Sparks said that while there were "many reasons" for publishing the book anonymously, her main reason was to make it more credible to young readers. Controversies involving other works by Sparks[ edit ] Sparks was involved in a similar controversy regarding the veracity of her second diary project, the book Jay's Journal.
It was allegedly the real diary, edited by Sparks, of a teenage boy who committed suicide after becoming involved with the occult. By an Anonymous Teenager or edited transcripts of therapy sessions with teens including Almost Lost: Some commentators have noted that these books use writing styles similar to Go Ask Alice  and contain similar themes, such as tragic consequences for spending time with bad companions, a protagonist who initially gets into trouble by accident or through someone else's actions, and portrayal of premarital sex and homosexuality as always wrong.
He identified Linda Glovach, an author of young-adult novels , as "one of the 'preparers'—let's call them forgers—of Go Ask Alice", although he did not give his source for this claim. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously.
Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Tompkins ' comedy album Freak Wharf contains a track entitled "Go Ask Alice" in which he derides the book as "the phoniest of balonies" and suggests it was authored by the writing staff of the police drama series Dragnet.
The album title itself comes from a passage in the book in which the diarist refers to a mental hospital as a "freak wharf".