Posted on July 12, 2022 at 8:37 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

A favorite podcast recently concluded a three-part episode on the well-known YA book Go Ask Alice.

For those of you who didn't read it, it claims to be the diary of a teenager — the titular Alice — who becomes immersed in the world of drugs in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Alice bounces back and forth between addiction and sobriety, and just when the reader believes it's really stuck this time, the book concludes by saying Alice was found mysteriously dead.

Since coming out in 1971, it's sold five million copies and inspired strong feelings both among those who applaud its anti-drug message and those who find its depictions so terrifying that they fight to keep it away from teens.

But the kicker? The "diary," advertised as real, is completely fictional.

In fact, it's not the only "diary" that its editor claimed to have found and published in hopes of scaring kids straight.

Some might argue that this doesn't matter or undermine its message, but others — including Rick Emerson, author of Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries, and Jonathan Russell Clark, whose sister has struggled with addiction — beg to differ.

Take a listen to Emerson's guest appearance on You're Wrong About and read Clark's essay about the damaging lies in Go Ask Alice in Esquire.

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Categories: Today in Books

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