"Go Ask Alice" is a 1971 book generally viewed to have been written by the author Beatrice Sparks, however the novel was published originally under the pseudonym "Anonymous". The novel is in epistolary format, being comprised entirely of diary entries and as such, was first thought to be an auto-biography. But questions about the authenticity of the book came up in the late 1970's and it … [Read more...]
Beatrice Sparks was born in Goldburg, Custer County, Idaho on January 15th, 1917. Not much is known of her early years today, except that she grew up in the town of Logan, Utah and was raised in the Mormon religion. She attended the University of Los Angeles and Brigham Young University in Utah after which she began working as a music therapist at Utah State Mental Hospital.
During Sparks' lifetime, questions were raised about her qualifications and researchers were unable to locate any record of the Ph. D. that she claimed to have. In one interview, it was claimed that Spark was "vague about specifics" when asked about her mental health and counseling qualifications.
In 1955, Sparks began working with at-risk teenagers, and it was this work that leads her to begin writing. In 1971, the novel "Go Ask Alice" was released with Sparks claiming to be it's editor. She claimed that the novel was produced on account of a real teenager combined with some fictionalized events that were based on real stories from her work with other teenagers. When asked, Sparks refused to produce the real diary for proof.
In later editions of the book, the proviso that it is a fictional work was added.
In 1973, a woman named Marcella Barret whose son had recently committed suicide read about Sparks work on "Alice" and became convinced that she was the perfect person to bring her son's diary to public notice. The diary was published under the title "Jay's Journal" and tells the story of the boy and his trials while being drawn into Satanism. Barret's family, however, later claimed that the story was fake and that the real boy, named Alden, had never been involved with Satanism and that Sparks had only used 21 of his real journal entries while making up the rest.
Despite the criticism, Sparks continued to produce more "real" anonymous diaries from teenagers who had been taken in by some terrible fate. The diaries were produced under the Young Adult genre and meant to be taken as cautionary tales. Sparks went on to release ten more books during the 1990s and early 2000s some of which claim her as the editor and all of which are labeled as being written by "anonymous." She continued to insist that the diaries were factual and written by real teenagers and that she was only the editor until her death in May of 2012.