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Rose, Santa Barbara Mission

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Truth matters

I believe that I was in junior high when the book Go ask Alice came out. It was a cheesy book that used very clumsy fear mongering to warn children about the evils of drugs.

And it was written and billed as a true story.

Surprise, surprise. It wasn't.

More than 5 million copies later, the book continues to shock a new generation on #BookTok.

But to some, the trajectory of Alice’s downfall — from one acid-laced soda to shooting speed before trying marijuana — seems like uninformed anti-drug propaganda.

Retired radio personality Rick Emerson is one such reader. He was floored by the book in high school, but it failed to pass the smell test as an adult. In 2015, he looked into the background of the book’s mysterious copyright holder, a UCLA-trained therapist named Beatrice Sparks. The result of his seven-year investigation is “Unmask Alice” (BenBella Books), out now —the first full unraveling of the “Go Ask Alice” myth. It’s a story of ambition, deceit and a gullible public, hungry for morality tales. 

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