Go Ask Alice
Nov. 23—Feb. 24
(Nov. 23-Dec. 3) Sheila's towering, flashy apartment bedazzles Alice and Chris, and the beautiful guests are even more stunning. The girls are lured into smoking what appears to be marijuana and sleeping in the bathroom until the next day. Unable to remember the night's events, Alice worries she may have gotten pregnant again and resolves to take birth-control if she's going to continue partying—which she does, viewing independently wealthy party-girl Sheila as a role model. One night while with Sheila and her boyfriend, the girls try heroin. Alice realizes that Sheila and the boyfriend had raped and brutalized them while the girls were high on heroin. When they return home, the girls decide that they must kick their drug lifestyle. They plan to start up their own boutique, although Alice feels bad about leaving Mr. Mellani.
(Dec. 5–10) With Chris's business know-how and Alice's artistic talent, the girls find a new apartment in Berkeley and open a jewelry shop there. (Dec. 12–15) Their shop does decent business and turns into a hangout for the neighborhood kids, who watch TV and listen to their stereo. Alice listens to the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home" and cries, identifying with the song's teenage runaway. She plans to return home around Christmas, though she doesn't mention it to Chris yet. (Dec. 17–18) The inane, drug-related chatter of the relatively privileged kids annoys Alice and makes her more lonesome for home.
(Dec. 22–25) Alice telephones home and tells her emotional mother that she and Chris will fly home. Her entire family meets her at the airport (as do Chris's parents, who reunite for the first time in years), and her grandparents fly in to stay for Christmas. Richie and Ted are not listed in the phone directory, which relieves Alice. The holiday spirit and family camaraderie revives Alice.
(Dec. 26-Jan. 1) Alice feels like her family accepts her as an adult, and she reflects on the difficulty of finding oneself in adolescence. She hopes the most trying times have passed. She sees a Christmas card from Roger's family and decides she must forget about Roger, as it was only puppy love. The family throws a New Year's party for the people in her father's department. Alice has a great time listening to the guests' anecdotes and cleaning up afterward with her family and Chris.
(Jan. 4–13) Alice begins school, and she wants to learn Spanish. A classmate asks her if she is selling drugs, and Alice has to convince him that she isn't. She's invited to a party, but she asks her mother if she and Chris can do something with the family instead. She also confides that some kids at school are trying to get them back into drugs. Her mother agrees that they will plan family activities for the next few weekends, and they have a great time in a mountain cabin.
(Jan. 14–21) A classmate, Lane, pressures Alice to get him drugs and even physically twists her arm in an effort to threaten her to get him some. He calls her at home, and Alice's mother senses something is wrong and encourages her to stay home from school, although Alice doesn't confide in her. School grows more complicated as it seems like everyone wants to lure Alice back into drugs, yet her mother is none the wiser.
(Jan. 24–Feb. 6) Chris has marijuana, and the smell hooks Alice. They smoke, and Alice restates her earlier belief that ecstasy is only possible under its influence. She asks Lane to get her uppers. Her social life improves, which pleases her mother, who doesn't know the real reason for the increased phone calls. (Feb. 13–24) Lane gets busted for dealing. Alice, not allowed out on weeknights by her parents, was not with him. The police raid Chris's house while she and Alice use drugs. They lie and tell their parents it was their first time and nothing happened. Nonetheless, the girls are put on probation and Alice will be sent to a psychiatrist.
The counterculture again betrays Alice, which increases her dependency on the unflagging trust of family. Sheila, as much a part of the establishment as anyone because of her wealth, only seems in tune with Alice and Chris because she uses drugs. Her heinous crime against them awakens them to the empty values of the counter-cultural life, which becomes increasingly evident in the boring company of the Berkeley teenagers.
Alice has by now passed through her trial by fire, and she feels like an adult from the way others treat her as an "individual." She declares "I am somebody!" but her real maturation is not from how others respond to her, but from her wise reflections on what it means to survive the troubled times of adolescence. Still, she is not completely ready to accept her past; she wants to repent for her sins, but she also wishes she could push her nightmares back into the "darkest and most inaccessible crevices" of her mind. She is not openly discussing her experiences to purge herself but instead represses them. Although she does open up to her mother a bit, she can't fully confide in her, and Alice's mom remains oblivious to her daughter's life apart from the family. Chris's unhappy home life is further indication of what causes an adolescent to go to these extremes—the inability to have an open relationship with one's parents. When Alice writes yet another "thank you" note to Mr. Mellani, it reminds us that the best way she can express love is through writing. It is no wonder, then, that she wants to learn Spanish, as she believes it is crucial to be able to communicate with "all people."
Alice's return to drugs makes her renege on all her prior declarations of loving family life. She reverts to her prior attitude that a life of sobriety is drab, and her discussion of drugs as mentally addictive substances reminds us that her drug use is not solely a hedonistic undertaking, but rather a debilitating psychological need. She remains perceptive, as always; previously, she and her friends had viewed the ease of acquiring marijuana and the difficulty of getting alcohol as a hypocrisy of the Establishment, and now she feels the same way about drugs and the birth-control pill.
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