Go Ask Alice

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A teen plunges into a downward spiral of addiction in this classic cautionary tale.

January 24th
After you’ve had it, there isn't even life without drugs…

It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth—and ultimately her life.

Read her diary.
Enter her world.
You will never forget her.

For thirty-five years, the acclaimed, bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl’s harrowing decent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers. As powerful—and as timely—today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction.

A Guide for Reading Groups

About This Book
She doesn't want to get hooked on drugs. Every time after she uses, she feels guilty and low and vows to stay away. But she just can't resist the way the drugs make her feel -- beautiful and popular and connected to the world around her. And since nobody understands how alone and miserable she is without the drugs, how can they possibly understand how much she needs them? We may not know her name, but we can imagine how she feels as her diary records a descent into drug-induced madness.
Discussion Questions
1. Every time the main character has something important happen in her life -- a summer with her grandparents, her family's move, an invitation to a big party, etc -- she focuses on her weight and wardrobe. Does this help her fit in and make friends? Is it good for her? Are there any connections between this and the things that happen to her later?
2. As her family prepares to move, the narrator says, "Even now I'm not really sure which parts of myself are real and which parts are things I've gotten from books." Do you understand what she means by this? As time passes, what else does she use to define who she is? What are some other (possibly better) things that you can use to create an identity for yourself?
3. The main character does not feel like she fits in with her other family members, nor does she belong to any group at school. What causes her to feel so separated and different? Do these reasons change throughout the course of the story? Do you think she really is as odd as she feels?
4. How does the writer get along with the other members of her family? Do her parents understand her? Is her relationship with her mother unusual for a teenage girl?
5. "Anonymous" makes friends at different times throughout the book, but none of them are in her life for very long. Why do the different friendships end? What does each person -- Jill, Gerta, Beth, Chris, etc -- mean to the writer? Is she a good friend to each of them? Who do you think is the best friend to have?
6. Do you think that the narrator's life is really as horrible as she makes it out to be? Do you know of people who have it worse than she does? Where else, besides drugs, could she have turned to solve her problems?
7. The main character spends a lot of time justifying her actions -- she only sells drugs to kids who would buy them anyway, she didn't realize she was dropping acid the first time, etc. What are some of her other excuses? Does she really believe all of these? Do you think any of her actions are justified?
8. Why is it so hard for her to remain clean? Why do her former friends give her such a hard time? Is there anyone who helps her go straight? Would it be that hard to switch crowds at your school?
9. The second time the writer runs away from home, the tone and style of her diary entries change radically. What are some of these changes? Why do you think her writing style changes during this time?
10. Why is the author so obsessed with death, and with what happens to bodies after they are buried? Do you think these thoughts affect the acid trip that lands her in the hospital?
11. How do you feel about the ending of the book? Does it fit with the rest of the story?
12. There has been some debate about the authorship of this book, with many people saying that it is not an actual diary but is instead a fictionalized account created by an editor or another writer. Who do you think wrote the book? Does the author understand what it's like to be a teenager and address the problems that young people have? Does it change the way you feel about the book to think that it might not be a true story?
13. Go Ask Alice was written over 30 years ago -- is it still relevant today? How has life changed for people your age? What things are the same?

1. Most communities have a helpline that people can call when they feel like they have nobody to talk to. After completing some training, you may be able to work at such a helpline. Check into opportunities and consider volunteering. Or talk to your school officials about starting some sort of peer counseling group at your school. You can help others just by listening to their stories.
2. Choose your favorite scene from the book and rewrite it using modern language. Make it sound like something that you might write in a diary.
3. Go Ask Alice was written in the 1970's, a decade with a very unique sense of style. There are several books with 70's-style crafts -- macramé, string art, clothing items, etc. Make your own 1970's project to wear or use as decoration.
4. The narrator tries to change her image several times throughout the story. Figure out how you could change your image, even for a day, and see how it works. Consider changing your clothes, your hairstyle, the people you hang out with, or your attitude toward school. See if you have as much trouble changing as the character does in the story.
5. In the book, the main character talks about how drugs make her feel more connected, both to other people and to the world that she lives in. Find something that makes you feel like you belong and make it a part of your life. Perhaps you can do some charitable work, start a book club, paint, or chat online. Be creative!
6. There have been other books that deal with teenagers and drugs, most notably Crank by Ellen Hopkins and Smack by Melvin Burgess. Read one or more of these books and compare them to Go Ask Alice.

This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers * SimonSaysTEACH.com

The Boston Globe ...a book that all teenagers and parents of teenagers should really read.

School Library Journal This novel in diary form powerfully depicts the confusions of adolescence. Its impact cannot be denied.

The New York Times [This] extraordinary work for teenagers is a document of horrifying reality and literary quality.

Library Journal An important book, this deserves as wide a readership as libraries can give it.

  • School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
  • ALA Best Books For Young Adults
  • Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
  • Christopher Award
  • ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults

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