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Go ask Alice
1. About the book itself
Go ask Aliceis based on the diary of a 15 year old girl with a normal loving middle- class familiy. Nevertheless she gets into the drugscene and has huge struggles to escape again. Three weeks after she decided not to begin a new diary because she is strong enough now to handle her problems like adults do, by discussing them instead of just sharing them with another part of herself ( the diary ), she dies.
Names, dates and places have been changed as well as some events. In fact the book includes 2 diaries. The first one deals with her normal life as a teenager with all her problems espacially with her weight, then how she gets into the drugscene until she ends in the street. When she decides to come back home and start a new life without drugs she also begins it with a new diary. This second part shows how difficult it is for a former drug-user to get rid of her bad reputation.
2. The plot
The diary of Alice starts 4 days before her 15th birthday. She is the daughter of a professor and her social surrounding is dominated by the middle-class-society. Her mother cares for Alice, her younger brother Tim and her little sister Alex.
Because of her father's job they have to move to another place where the whole familiy has no problems to make new friends apart from Alice. She feels like an outsider in the new school and becomes fat again out of frustration.
But then she finds a new friend ( Beth ) who is also an outsider like Alice. They have a great time together although Beth is a jewish girl which interests Alice very much. But when the summerholidays start Alice has to spend them with her grandparents although she doesn't want to. Against all requests both parents, those of Beth and Alice, stay strict and so she has to go and Beth has to spend the holidays in a summercamp.
Alice expects terribly boring holidays but everything turns out to be different: she meets Bill and Jill, who invite her to a party. At that party Alice makes her first innocent experience with drugs because she doesn't even know what happens to her. They play a game called " butto n button ", where 10 out of 14 bottles of coke have LSD in them. Noone knows who is going to get the drug -cokes and Alice is one of the "lucky ones", as Jill calls her. Bill cares for her while she is on the trip and she enjoys it very much although everything is new for her. She is quite prepared to do it again deliberately because she is getting more and more curious. Bill introduces her to torpedos and to Speed, which she has to inject right into her arm. Alice is excited by the effect drugs have on he r sensory perception.After her grandfather had a little heart attac she stays with her grandmother to give her moral support. Although Alice rather wants to come home again she decides to stay in order to help her grandparents, but after a while she gets bored to death and dates with Bill again. On an acid-trip she sleeps with Bill the first time which causes great pangs of remorse because she wanted it to happen with Roger her first great love, whom she has been keen on for years. When Roger visits her then, Alice is very ashamed when she thinks of the night she had with Bill, because Roger is so breathtakingly handsome. She can't even speak to Roger anymore and refuses to talk to him on the phone and in order to forget those problems for the night she takes some of her grandfathers sleeping-pills.
At home the familiy notices that something must be wrong and for the reason tha t Alice can't sleep without pills, to which she got used, her mother makes her see the doctor. With the tranquillizers she get, she is able to pour out her soul to Roger in a letter about their realationship. The problem is, that he lives far away and so they can only stay in contact by letters.
Beth has a boyfriend now too and tha t makes Alice feel even worse. She is jealous because Beth' s boyfriend lives nearer than Roger and besides Beth hasn't much time for her friendship to Alice a nymore. The news of Rogers decision to join the military school far away and his suggestion that Alice should date and have fun with other boys depresses her very much.
When school starts again she gets a job in a boutique where she meets Chris. She introduces Alice to smoking pot although she hasn't even had a cigarette before. She gets to know Richie, a friend of Chirs' boyfriend Ted and falls in deeply lo ve with him. Through that relationship she gets deep into the drugscene because Ted and Richie are pushers and encourage the two grils to sell drugs at school to younger kids. Alice has to take Dexies to stay high at daytime and tranquillizers to be able to sleep at night.
When Alice begins to become suspicious about their realationship because Richie never wants her at his home, she finds out that Ted and Richie are a couple. They exploit the two girls and used them to sell their drugs. Chris and Alice feel very ashamed how they could be such idiots! They turn Richie in to the police and decide not to sell drugs to such young kids anylonger. But they know that it would be impossible here and so the best solution is to sneak off in the middle of the night - to San Francisco.
There they live in a little dirty one-room-appartement and look for jobs which Chris finds at Shelia's boutique. The woman also helps Alice to get a job at an exquisite custom jewelry. The owner, Mario Mellani, is like a father to her and she even visits him and his familiy at home. With the help of Shelia they can go to parties where the rich and beautiful ones of society have fun with loads and loads of drugs. The girls are enthusiastic about those high-society- parties and begin to smoke pot again.
After Shelia introduces them to smack, which is another great experience they decide rather to quit that scene and to move to Berkeley although Alice doesn't want to give up her job at Mr Mellani's.
In Berkeley they open their own shop where they sell jewelry for kids. The shop is nicely decorated and turns into a youth-center where the kids speak about their using.
On the 23th december Chris and Alice fly home because they can't stand the thought of not being with the families during the christmasdays. Everyone is very happy and Alice wishes to wipe out the last 6 months she was not at home. She spends Christmas and New Year with her family. Everything seems to be much easier now because her parents treat her like an adult. When school starts again some kids go on about her to pus h them some drugs, but Alice has no connections anymore and doesn't nor want to touch the scene again. She tells her parents about the problem and they decide to help their daughter by keeping her busy. They go on familiy-trips at the weekends in order not to give Alice the danger to be tempted.
When Chris and Alice smoke pot the first time again they feel terrible in the beginning and Alice realises that drugs do cause addiction and that she can't take or simply leave them when she wants. But this reasonable thought is soon gone and they get into it again. When Chris' house is raided they promise to the police that it was their first time taking drugs and that they will never do it again. From now on Alice's parents control her because they suspect her of doing something wrong. Even her little brother Tim has to watch her when she goes to town.
Unexpected by Alice hitch-hikes to Denver while she is stoned and moves in with some kids there. Then she goes on to Oregon, where she sleeps in the park. She becomes very dirty and catchs a cold which forces her to ask in the church for help. They give her new clothes, something to eat and she gets the possibility to wash herself again. The doctor gives her something against the cold and she is advised to phone her parents, which she doesn't do because they wouldn't let her use acid at home which she doesn't want to quit.
Alice moves in with Doris, when she met at the doctor's. They have a good time together with Doris' can full of pot until they run out of it and have no money to get some more. Although Alice always hated beggars on the street she has to join them in order to get something to eat and ever more important to get a fix. She thinks about going back home again when the withdrawal symptoms torment her too much because contrast to Doris she has a loving family at home. But evidently she rejects the thought and hitch-hikes to a rally in South California. (The truck driver who gives them a lift beats Doris. So they sneak away at a petrolstation and find others who even share their pot with them. )The rally impresses them very much with all the young people sitting together smoking, drinking and taking acid.
Now Alice has come to the lowest point of her life. She feels awfully bad and alone. Without any money she doesn't know what to do and prostitutes herself to her pushers and even forgets what day, time and year it is, like real junkies do. The only solution to end all the mess seems to be death for her.
An old priest finally saves her after one month vegetating in the street and phones her parents who immediately come and get her home. Alice is overwhelmed that they still love her after a ll she has done to them and ended up with all drugs. She decides to go into child guidance or into psychiatry to help other children who are in the same situation she was and to rectify her life by helping others.
New diaryto start a new life without drugs.
Although the whole family had a bad time while she was away they are not angry with her and try to support her.
At school the headmaster shouts at her and calls her a selfish, undisciplined and immature girl. This incident is a new challenge for going into child guidance for her because adults should try to understand kids but not blame them. For that aim she studies very hard at school.
Alice often feels very lonely because she has noone to talk to and for that reason she tries to forget everything and to concentrate on school. She has no real friends anymore because of her bad reputation of a drug-user and pusher at school. Those, she knew from the drugscene invite her to parties and are sure that she will be back soon, but Alice tries to avoid any contact with teens of the "grass-gang", as she calls them. She would really like to have a normal date to go to the cinema or something, but the straight kids at school don't want to be seen with a girl of her reputation.
Moreover her grandfather has a stroke and falls into a coma and dies some days later, which makes her very sad. Espacially the thought of the dead body which is eaten by worms and maggots causes nightmares. Her grandmother moves in with them but dies too one month after her husband, without whom she didn't want to live. At school Alice's collegues are hasseling her and put joints in her bag, but she begs her father not do do anything against it because that would make her situiation even worse. He gets the permission for his daughter to use the university library, where she meets the student Joel. She falls in love with him and he often visits her at home. Her father and Joel behave like father and son because Joel's father died when he was a child. They talk a lot and he becomes a close friend of Alice.
They don't want to eccept that she has achieved to be clean ( envy - malice)
An incident makes her situation with the grass-gang worse again: Mrs. Larsen asks Alice to do the babysitting for her because Jan has cancelled the job. She agrees, but later Jan appears totally stoned and wants to do the babysitting on her own. Alice doesn't know an other solution than to phone Jan's parents to get her home. From now on, Alice gets sneers and giggles at school which is even worse than to be ignored, and the grass gang frightens her to give drugs to her little sister Alex on the street or to put acid into her father's car. But when they burn paper in her locker at school she doesn't dare to tell the headmaster who she suspects. It's the same with the incident on the street when a boy she doesn't even know nearly rapes her and she doesn't dare to tell her parents.
Joel worries about her and calls every day. When her grandmother dies, he comforts her after the funeral. He gives her the watch of his dead father and she gives him the ring of her grandmother as a sign of confidence. But during the summerholidays he is at home with his mother and they only write letters to communicate.
For the holidays she is going to get a nice job: She will care for Mrs. Larsen's baby because she is in hospital with a broken leg. But one evening, when she is alone with the baby she gets a nervous breakdown because of a bad trip. She suspects the grass-gang that they must ha ve put acid in the peanuts she ate. Alice cries, hurts herself on the ha nds, and beats her head against the walls until the neighbours call the police and she is brought to hospital with a body covered with bruises and wounds. She hasalso lost her brainconcussion and has nightmares of worms eating her body again. Although her parents believe her that someone tripped her she is sent to an insane asylum, where she nearly becomes crazy because of all the psychiatrists who want to persuade her that she has a problem and must admit that. She is terribly scared by those mad patients. Nevertheless the group therapy is good for her and she gets to know some other kids with the same problems
(like Babbie. She has been addicted since she was 12 and ended as a baby prostitute. When Alice is sent home again she feels very guilty to leave Babby back, but also glad to come home again. During the time she was in the asylum her father convinced Jan not to blame Alice as a well known pusher at school and so she took back her statement.The whole family goes on a trip together for 2 weeks because Alice's father has to finish a lecture course.)
Home again Alice make new friends from the "straight" side, those who don't take drugs. Fawn invites her to go swimming and they organize parties, but Alice is very afraid of telling her new friends about her shocking past although she knows that she has to sooner or later.
On the celebration of her own and the birthday of her father Joel comes to visit her surprisingly, which is better than any present someone could have made her.
In her last entry she decides not to have another diary again because she will solve problems like an adult now and not simply write them into a book, noone will read. She must learn to articulate and discuss problems.
3. How Alice develops by meeting different people:
Alice's character changes a lot during the 2 years she keeps a diary. The bad influence drugs can have on young teenagers is well documented in this book:
In the beginning Alice is a normal middle-class girl who dates, gets decent grades and makes diets. Her only problem is that she has a low self confidence because of her appearance and that's why she feels like an outsider in her new school and often feels missunderstood (mother!) can't immediately integrate into the new surrounding. This lack of personal confidence and poor social assurance make her vulnerable to drugs through out the whole 2 years. Beth feels like she does and that's what makes them friends. As a jewish girl she also has such problems. Now Alice has someone to talk to, which is very important for girls of that age. But she is again seperated from this relationship when she is sent to her parents. There she first gets in touch with the wrong kind of kids and is introduced to drugs and to the new world of sex. Bill and Jill have a cool image and it makes her feel good, tha t such people seem to accept her. She is impressed and very curious although she knows the danger of becoming addicted. The drugs make her feel wonderful and wanted, even accepted by the others instead of inferior and unwanted. At home she gets to know some wrong friends again and even falls in love with a pusher. During the time with Chris she begins to lose her innocence and doesn't appear or speak as the little girl she did before anymore. Alice is dazzled by her new love Richie and sells drugs for him at school. For that reason she and Chris become the most popular girls at school which is very important for Alice who last year was an ignored shy outsider. She enjoys the feeling and notices the consequences only after she has broken up with Richie. This disappointment opens her eyes and the more reasonable Alice appears again. She knows that selling drugs to such young kids of 12 can't be right and they decide to get away from everything! Although her parents suspect something wrong in their daughter's life they can't do anything because she doesn't tell them anything about her drugproblem but rather wants to run away to get rid of their carefully watching eyes. In San Francisco the girls learn to how hard it is to earn money, find jobs and to make ends, but again they "luckily" meet the wrong persons like Shelia who introduces them to the glamorous world of the beauty and rich people of society. At such parties where everyone takes drugs it is quite difficult to say no and besides they are the youngest guests and have to try to be as cool as the adults are. They admire Shelia for her beauty, success and connections. She becomes an idol for the two girls and shows them how easy life can be with drugs. But again the two girls want to escape from the scene after a while and run away to Berkeley.
Now Alice starts the first time to stay clean but again doesn't tell her parents. But whe n she first tries pot again, she gets immediately into it again and soon runs away again. This time things are worst because she becomes a real junkie who doesn't have or know anything. There is no sense in her life anylonger and she often writes about her wish to die. The entries in her diary aren't regular anymore and mostly without dates. She writes short comments and changes her mind about drugs from very often: once she is happy, everything is beautiful and she is obviously high and in an other entry she express her sadness, how bad she feels and that she wants to die as the consequence of the withdrawal symptoms she has. When she is sorber again and reads what she has written the last weeks she is shocked and can't believe that this was her, Alice. With the decision to stay clean and so go back to her family she declares war to the drugs, which made her act so badly. Alice is in a much better situation than a lot of other streetkids, who sometimes don't even know why they ran away because she has a family who loves and supports her no matter what she has done. This feeling brought her home once before christmas and now a second time. Alice seems to be doomed to be an outsider, which is the worst for her. At home again noone apart from her family likes her. Her bad reputation which has it's roots in former sins keeps her away from normal kids who don't have to do anything with drugs because she is too much afraid of being kicked out when they get to know her past. On the other hand there is the grass-gang which first wants to tempt her to come back to their habits again. But Alice is strong and refuses to go to their parties in order not to get in touch with drugs again. After she has called Jan's parents when she wants to do the babysitting completely stoned, Jan hates her and the whole gang terrorises Alice. She has only her family but when her grandparents die too, she is completely down. In this bad time a hero appears for her: Joel. He is a student, who has lost his father when he was a little child and who lives far away from his mother to study at university. To afford the studies he works 7 hours a day as a janitor. Alice meets him in the library of the university and they become really good friends. He worries about her, phones and writes letters even during her stay in the insane asylum. Joel has a good influence on her. in order to impress Joel she begins to play the piano again and studies very hard at school. The old ordinary nice girl Alice is back again and when she meets Fawn and makes friends with straight kids, her struggle against drugs seems to be won. But her parents come home from a movie and find her dead. Alice died of an overdose, but you can only guess if it was an accidental or premeditated overdose.
4. What defeated Alice?
Alice had great struggles to go through and nearly managed it, but some points made it very hard for her to give up drugs:
First she couldn't freely speak to her parents about her drug-problems because she was too scared to disappoint them. Moreover her realationship to her parents was not the best from the beginning on. It became slowly better when she came home the first time and the parents realised that they must treat her more like an adult. But she still covered up her drugproblem for a long time until it was impossible to hide, when they brought her home after the priest had called them. From then on her fears that the family would be angry and reject her turned out to be ridiculous because they were loving and kind.
The more important and painful aspect was the dreadful isolation she had to go through, when she was trying to give up: Alice was rejected by the straight kids because of her bad reputation she had at school and she was vengefully attacked by the members of the grass-gang because she betrayed Jan although this was the best she could have done. Alice tried to be friendly to all of them, but they didn't stop to terrorise her. This must have been a painful conflict which perhaps caused her to fall. She wanted to become independent of drugs and to be accepted as a person but not as a drug-user or a fromer drug-user.
real basis of the book, form: diary; time: 1970 (hippies) short plot
(espacially how did she get into it -throug h a game... why was it so difficult to get out )
alice's character (development)
+ relationship to parents
+ which "friends" influenced her most
- Quote paper
- Katharina Schulz (Author), 2000, Anonymous - Go ask Alice - a diary, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/100353