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5 Books like Go Ask Alice: Going Down the Rabbit Hole

Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorFollowing the rise of the Hippy counter culture and the introduction of hallucinogen drugs such as LSD in the sixties, a novel by the name of ‘Go Ask Alice’ was published in 1971, depicting the struggles an anonymous girl faces after going down the rabbit hole. With the public now becoming strongly aware of the effects drugs can have on individuals, more and more anti-drug testimonials were published. Let’s take a look at five of the most shocking teenage drug addiction stories in literature: ‘Junk’ (Melvin Burgess, 1996), ‘We Children from Bahnhof Zoo’ (Christiane F., 1979), ‘Crank’ (Ellen Hopkins, 2004), ‘Brass’ (Helen Walsh, 2004) and ‘Thing of Beauty’(Stephen Fried, 1993).
~ Roxanne Sancto

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice. Acid and Smack and No Way Back.

Published in 1971 by “Anonymous”, ‘Go Ask Alice” tells the story of a nameless teenage girl, who gets lost in a world of drugs. Originally said to be extracts from a diary, it was actually edited by the psychologist turned writer, Beatrice Sparks. According to Sparks, these extracts are taken from the diary of one of her former patients, though some parts have been fictionalized.

The books’ protagonist starts out as an innocent, naïve girl who is desperately trying to find her place in the world and amongst her peers. She falls in with the wrong crowd and tames her curiosity about drugs only to realize that she wants no part of that world. When some of her new friends get busted for drug possession, they turn on her, accusing her of being a fink. They make her life miserable.

She throws herself into her school work and family life but can’t escape the constant harassment from her former friends. When she meets Chris, who is a few years older than her, she is turned on to drugs once again – this time amphetamines. Together they run away from home, making their way to San Francisco where things quickly run out of hand.

Upon her return home, she tries to change her life for the better once again. But her former group of friends have still not forgotten about her and when they decide to play a nasty prank on her involving a chocolate bar spiked with acid, it almost kills her.

‘Go Ask Alice’ is not light reading, that’s for sure. But if you’re interested in learning more about the effects of drugs and the people who fall victim to addiction, you should look into books like the ones mentioned below.


Books Similar to ‘Go Ask Alice’…

‘Junk’ (Melvin Burgess, 1996)

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Tar is a teenage boy with a big heart and a shitty home life. When he can no longer take life with his abusive father and martyr mother, he runs away to Bristol. Here he meets Richard, a squatter and anarchist. He moves in with him and joins Richard on his actions against the government and capitalism.

One day he meets Gemma, a confident young girl seeking adventure and an escape from her boring day to day reality. They fall in love with each other and form an intense bond. At a squat party, Gemma is fascinated by a girl wearing nothing but a fishnet dress and a pair of boots. Gemma and Tar and Lily and her boyfriend Rob strike up a friendship.

Gemma and Tar have both dabbled with different drugs but it is Lily and Rob who turn them onto heroin. It’s not until they’ve experienced the worst aspects of drug addiction that they finally realize it is time for them to leave Bristol’s drug world behind…

Similarity Match: 95%
The ‘Go Ask Alice’ protagonist and Tar and Gemma from ‘Junk’ are the same age and find themselves trapped in the same hopeless downward spiral of drugs.

‘We Children from Bahnhof Zoo’ (Christiane F., 1979)

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Chances are you have heard of Christiane F., the world’s most famous junkie who published her biography when she was just sixteen years old. The content of her story, “We Children from Bahnhof Zoo” shocked a nation and ultimately, the world.

At 13 years old, Christiane moves into a social-housing development with her mother. The place is depressing and the elevators always smell of urine but she can always rely on David Bowie’s music to console her. Sometimes hash does the trick too. When she finds out her older class mate regularly goes to the Sound (the most popular Discotheque in Europe at the time), she tags along. Here she meets Detlef and falls head over heels in love with him.

Detlef is a few years older and a lot more experienced with drugs. At first it’s just LSD and pills but soon Detlef starts using heroin and spends his days working as a male prostitute at the Bahnhof Zoo train station in order to finance his habit. At first Christiane is against his H use, but she soon follows him down the same route, wanting to be on the same wave-length as him.

Within no time, Christiane turns into a full blown addict and a child prostitute. No matter how many times she ODs, no matter how many times she goes cold turkey – the drug is always stronger than her willpower….

Similarity Match: 85%
‘We Children from Bahnhof Zoo’ deals with the same subject matter as ‘Junk’ but in a highly graphic manner.

‘Crank’ (Ellen Hopkins, 2004)

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Kristina is in her junior year of high school when she goes off to visit her father in Albuquerque during the summer. Her father is out working most of the time, so she is left to entertain herself. When she meets Adam, he knows exactly what to give her to while away her boredom: Crank.

Kristina and Adam get together and remain in contact even after she goes back to her hometown, Nevada. By this time she’s addicted to meth. In Nevada she meets Chase and Brendan, her new connection for the drug.

When she is sent to juvenile hall one day, she makes a new contact that runs an entire Meth lab in Mexico. Upon her release, she steals her mum’s credit card and goes meth shopping in Mexico. She starts dealing on The Avenue but also gets high from her own supply. Things take a turn when she finds out she’s pregnant…

Similarity Match: 85%
Methamphetamine may be different to LSD and heroin, but ‘Crank’ and ‘Go Ask Alice’ protagonists move in the same shady circles and deal with similar issues.


If You Like ‘Go Ask Alice’, You Will Also Like…

Matthew Nespoli’s novel ‘Broken’ focuses on various characters in LA who are somehow interlinked. If you want to read a book like ‘Go Ask Alice’ that involves characters struggling with drugs as well as a bit of humour, Nespoli is your man.

Nic Sheff’s ‘Tweak: Growing Up on Amphetamines’ will you give insight into the mind of a young addict who starts his journey into drugs at the tender age of eleven.

If you want to hear Sheff’s father’s account of his son’s drug addiction, read ‘A Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Meth Addiction’. With these kinds of topics, it is always a good idea to get the parents’ perspective as well – remember, there’s nothing more difficult than watching your child self-destruct.

‘Brass’ (Helen Walsh, 2004)

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Millie is a college student who never got over the fact that her mother abandoned her at a young age. Her father is a teacher at Millie’s university and cares deeply for her but doesn’t seem to notice her inner struggles. She has lost all interest in her studies and prefers a life of “the beak and the booze”.

Her best friend Jamie is her lifeline but as he is settling down with his new girlfriend, he has less and less time for Millie and her outrageous drinking, drugging and sexual behaviour. After a series of violent sexual encounters and a few extremely heavy come-downs, Millie realizes Jamie is more to her than a friend…

Although Millie is a university student, she struggles with a lot of the same feelings as the ‘Go Ask Alice’ protagonist.

‘Thing of Beauty’ (Stephen Fried, 1993)

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Gia Marie Carangi (January 29th, 1960 – November 18th, 1986) was one of the first supermodels to woe the fashion industry and its most famous designers: Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Armani and Versace.

Gia grew up in Philadelphia but her home life was far from harmonious. She desperately craved her mother’s attention but to no avail. In high school she became a true “Bowie kid” and felt drawn to David Bowie’s gender ambiguous and high-glam fashion sense. By the time she was 17 she signed with Wilhelmina Models and went on to have a prolific career in the world of fashion

Gia had already experimented with drugs like cocaine but following the death of her mentor Wilhelmina Cooper, she moved on to harder things and developed a taste for heroin. This was the beginning of a downward spiral that cost not only her career, but her life.

The lives of Gia and the ‘Go Ask Alice’ protagonist widely differ and this book is not just based on Gia Carangi’s life but the fashion industry of the seventies and eighties as well. However, their sentiments about drug (ab)use are very much the same.


Heavy Reading Material…But It Has to be Read

Obviously, books like ‘Go Ask Alice’ aren’t exactly the kind you should be reading just before bedtime – unless you want to fall into a depressed and nightmarish slumber. No, these books are definitely not classed as “easy reading”, but you know what? Sometimes it just has to be done. How else are we ever going to understand youngsters in the grasp of drug addiction?

If you are genuinely interested in the subject of substance abuse in teenagers, this list should give you enough examples of innocent experimentations gone wrong. Which one of these books touched you the most? What did you learn from it?

Share your thoughts with us!

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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