Weird History

The Shady YA Drug Diary 'Go Ask Alice' Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg When It Comes To Author Beatrice Sparks

The 1971 book Go Ask Alice is infamous for being repeatedly challenged and banned, but it's also known for a different reason: was it based on a true story? For decades, this story of addiction and a seemingly inescapable downward spiral has captured the imaginations of young adults drawn to the darker side of YA literature, but despite the book's marketing as a true story, it's more fiction than fact. The book's author - or self-proclaimed editor - Beatrice Sparks made a thriving literary career exploring the trials and temptations of teens, including stories of addiction, abortion, Satanism, and other topics intended to scare kids straight.

Why did Go Ask Alice get banned? Even if fictional, the book's portrayals of drug use are often graphic and intense, describing acid trips and speed in glowing language, though the narrative is staunchly anti-drug. But unlike other famous diaries targeted at younger audiences, the truth behind Sparks's books has become so skewed and misrepresented that it's hard to say if those passages have any validity. Sparks, unlike editors of factual historical diaries, seemed more interested in selling her ideology than in telling real stories - but the results have captivated audiences since the '70s.