As I also mentioned on Twitter, it’s quite amazing how well a book published in 1971 reflects today’s teenage struggles.
Go Ask Alice is basically the diary of a young girl, trying to fit in and be accepted. A young girl who makes mistakes, who is afraid of sharing her feelings, afraid of loneliness, and tormented by her fears. It does sound similar to your own adolescent years, doesn’t it?
Alice has good days, and bad days. Sometimes she talks to her mother and she feels understood and connected to her and sometimes it’s like they speak different languages. She has a few friends, but she feels lonely, a misfit. She is self-conscious and believes to be unworthy and antisocial, but sometimes talking to people comes naturally to her. She is drawn to a bad environment, only so she can feel surrounded by people, accepted, wanted. She loses herself in a search for others.
“I’m living with doubts and apprehensions and fears that I never dreamed possible.”
This book is a perfect example of how eager we are to damage ourselves, just so we can meet other people’s expectations. And of how we lose ourselves in the process. Teenagers – and people in general – should stop being afraid of loneliness and stop being willing to do things that are contrary to their life philosophy, only to be accepted in a group of people they have nothing in common with.
Alice doesn’t have an abusive family, but actually a nice caring one. Her environment doesn’t promote the kind of behaviour she develops, but that’s the thing. Shit just happens. The biggest mistake she made was that she kept all of her problems a secret. She kept saying that she’s not worthy of her family, that she just doesn’t deserve them. At the end of the book there’s a little explanation made by a psychologist. It seemes that even though her family was great, they didn’t encourage her to communicate more, to surpass that barrier that kept her from being honest.
Her first encounter with drugs was unforseen. It was summer, she was at a party and the people played a game where they put LSD in Coca-Cola and only some of them got the drugged cans. Alice was one of them. She like it and it made her curious. She knew it was bad, she knew what she didn’t want to become, but the pressure of fitting in, of having friends and having some excitement in her life made her go a way she was going to regret. There is nothing wrong with being curious, but we have to understand that there are consequences and mistakes that can follow us throughout life. Even though Alice wanted to stay clean, her old friends made her life a hell. Even though she made everything in her powers to build a stable environment, to focus on her studies, her plans kept falling apart because of her past.
The desire to be accepted makes us vulnerable. That is why we have to learn to understand and love ourselves, so we won’t seek the acceptance of others. We have to carefully choose our friends, the people that surround us. As human beings, our purpose is to learn from each other, so that we’ll grow and be able to accomplish beautiful things. But some people are just anchors, sucking out the good energy, feeding from our dreams, our goals, our unique way of seeing life. So look for the good people until you find them! Don’t feed others your soul, that’s yours to keep.
This book is about the ups and downs of teenage years. The struggles. The emotional ungliness of people around us. The traps that can strip us away of innocence. The consequences of not listening to our own voice.
This book is heartbreaking.