Go Ask Alice follows the troubling story of a 15-year-old who develops a drug addiction and embarks on a long journey of self-destruction. It is written in epistolary form and it is commonly thought of as the ‘real’ story of a troubled teenager.
Go Ask Alice was written anonymously and contains some harsh imagery, themes, and references. These themes include sex, drug use, and occasional violence, so many teen readers have been advised to wait a few years before reading it.
Above all, the book centers around mental health issues and can be triggering for many readers. The narrative delves into the mind of the protagonist and provides a vivid depiction of desperation, addiction, and suffering.
There has been speculation as to whether this novel can be classed as fiction, but many believe that the in-depth descriptions and raw narrations indicate that the novel is based on real experiences.
Many people enjoy reading memoirs or memoir fiction because they enjoy the relatability. Reading real experiences can make stories more enjoyable, powerful, and gripping.
Memoirs, much like biographies, are some of the most well-read books out there. Memoirs can cover all sorts of subject matter, anything from domestic violence to substance abuse is incorporated and the stories can often be challenging to read.
The form of memoirs will often vary, some are written in diary form (like Go Ask Alice) whereas others can be written as short stories, structured like self-help books, or can adopt a classic novel form.
If this genre sounds like something you’d love to read, stay tuned to find out 20 fabulous book recommendations.
This is a very similar book, often put in a ‘series’ with Go Ask Alice and many have speculated that the two books are written by the same person, Beatrice Sparks.
Jay’s Journal is a diary-lead book that follows one man’s spiral into drug addiction. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a life-threatening situation. This is Jay’s journal that documents his battle with mental health issues.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
The Tattooist of Auschwitz mixes memoir and history and tells the brilliant story of Lale Sokolov, a holocaust survivor. The story is based on details given in interviews and the story has only been slightly fabricated to make for a more concise plotline.
This story goes into great depth about life in Auschwitz, friendships, relationships, and the horrific lengths captives went to in order to survive.
Smack by Melvin Burgess
As the title may suggest, this novel follows a troubled youngster as they rely on drugs to escape the harsh realities of their family life.
Smack delves into the mindset of a drug user, describes the feeling of being high and low, and helps readers to understand the impactful nature of withdrawals and the lack of control drug users have over their habit.
Checkers by John Marsden
This is the intriguing story of a teenage girl with everything. She comes from a wealthy background, has received an excellent education, and has a huge house. But as more people begin talking and lies are unearthed, she realizes that something big is going on behind the scenes.
Checkers tells a captivating story of a young teenage girl who has lost control of her life. It delves into her psyche and reveals her innermost thoughts and feelings as she realizes her family is not all it appears.
Peter by Kate Walker
This brilliant story follows Peter, an Australian boy who can’t handle the pressures of adolescence and masculinity. It dives headfirst into the thoughts and feelings of Peter as he navigates new friendships, learns how to cope with desire, and explores sexuality.
Peter is an insightful novel framed as a memoir, that will allow you to experience everything that comes with growing up and developing.
Maybe by Brent Runyon
Closely following a 16-year-old boy, this novel provides a fascinating insight into the mind of a young boy navigating his teen years. It covers love, loss, grief, death, and powerful emotions that he has to cope with and try to control.
In a world that tries to suppress his voice, he makes every attempt to get heard. Emotive, impactful, and memorable, Maybe will stay with you for years.
Glass by Ellen Hopkins
Glass is the powerful story of one woman and her battle with a crystal meth addiction. Kristina has spent ages attempting to control her urges, experiencing periods of sobriety and others of relapse. Her story represents many and it is crucial that people understand the realities of addiction.
With a baby to care for and the pressures of everyday life mounting up, Kristina feels like meth is the only thing that’ll keep her sane. But can she avoid the temptation?
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
This is the captivating and emotive story of a 23-year-old alcoholic and drug addict, who decides to enroll himself in a rehabilitation center and straighten himself out.
This decision comes after he wakes up on an unknown plane with a broken nose and teeth and no memory of what happened or how he got there.
A Million Little Pieces follows his determined attempt to get sober before his early death. He spends 6 weeks in rehab and this is his story.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Now a New York Times bestseller and a high-grossing film, Where the Crawdads Sing is a coming-of-age story that centers around a mysterious death in North Carolina in 1969.
This is a little different from the rest of these books in style and theme but its deep insight into the protagonist’s psyche gives it a memoir feel. Its moral message reminds readers that everyone is shaped by childhood.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins
This is a work of fiction and reads like a novel, but again its narrative style provides a memoir feel and will therefore appeal to any memoir lover.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the gripping and scandalous story of Evelyn Hugo who has lived a glamorous life in Hollywood and is now ready to tell her story in great detail. This follows Evelyn and the journalist who is tasked with the report. Their lives unexpectedly intertwine as the novel unravels each complex character – it’s a truly gripping tale that’s perfect for gossip lovers.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
This story begins in 1929 when a girl is kidnapped and sold into slavery. She lives in a geisha house and her virginity is sold to whoever can pay the highest price.
Memoirs of a Geisha is a powerful, feminist novel that underpins the toxic power dynamic between men and women. It delves into the pain, suffering, and harsh realities of living as a woman in this period and tracks her psyche as she transitions from a girl living in a small fishing village to a woman whose well-being relies on her appearance.
The Bitter Taste of Dying by Jason Smith
This is a brutally honest portrayal of drug use and addiction. Progressing from a life completely dominated by drug abuse to one of freedom and self-control, The Bitter Taste of Dying creates a raw and honest depiction of how substance abuse can completely alter lives.
If you’re looking for something gritty and powerful, this is a great choice for you.
My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler
In My Sister Milly, Gemma Dowler tells the story of how a known serial killer kidnapped her sister. The detailed news stories allowed everyone to think that they know Milly. Her body was found not long after her disappearance, the police’s investigation was shoddy at best, and the journalists did everything they could to write a gripping story – including hiding the truth.
This book finally delves into the truth behind the tragic final few months of Milly’s life, 15 years on, after years worth of grief and trauma.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
This beautiful story was written by an excellent poet, who brings new life to the real stories of Vuong’s Vietnamese family. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous uncovers the family and national history that still haunts Vuong’s present.
Captivating, emotive, and tender, this story dives into trauma, race, gender roles, violence, and family history. Vuong tells his story through the lens of national disruption and sheds light on the generational divides that have huge impacts on the lifestyles and traditions of modern Vietnamese citizens.
A Rip in Heaven by Jeanine Cummins
A Rip in Heaven reads like a memoir but is mostly encapsulated by the true crime genre. It tells the story of her cousins, Julie, Robin, and her brother, Tom who were assaulted near St. Louis.
But this assault was just the beginning. This is the story of how their family was taken down a turbulent and heartbreaking path of betrayal, destruction, and grief.
The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
This is certainly tailored towards the younger readers but is emotive and powerful in many of the same ways. The Agony of Alice follows the life of a teenager, Alice, as she grieves the death of her mom and deals with a turbulent family dynamic. That’s before you even consider school.
Finally, Alice finds an unexpected role model, someone to trust, someone to look up to. And with a little help and guidance, she finally feels ready to tackle the rest of her teenage years without disruption or drawbacks.
High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins
On one hand, Tiffany has committed 20 felonies and has always had a drug problem. On the other, she has a determination for sobriety and wants to escape the grip of substance abuse.
High Achiever tells the remarkable story of addiction, friendship, love, and desperation. Her experience in jail and her complex relationships all contribute to one compelling and raw depiction of addiction and suffering. This book will keep you gripped and will surprise you in every chapter.
Beautiful by Amy Reed
Perfect for YA readers, Beautiful tells the brilliant story of development and growth, as Cassie toys with her identity and soon gets swept up in a completely new life.
Sex, drugs, and parties all consume her and soon she finds herself tangled in a web of abuse, addiction, and violence. It’s a fantastic story that emphasizes how easy it is to get swept up in addictive behaviors and complex relationships.
Cut by Patricia McCormick
This one is an intense read and should not be picked up by anyone sensitive to themes of mental health illness, self-harm, or suicide.
Cut is the compelling and heart-wrenching book that follows Callie, who self-harms. This is a raw, emotive, and intense book that will shed light on the realities of severe mental health issues.
It Happened to Nancy by Beatrice Sparks
Written in diary format, It Happened to Nancy is the story of a 14-year-old rape victim. It is made up of a series of journal entries and follows a young girl’s battle with trauma and an AIDS diagnosis.
This is an honest, emotional, and breathtaking read that will take you through the emotional ringer. Told first-hand, you can’t get a better insight into the mentality of a rape survivor – this is a fantastic read for anyone craving a gritty, emotive story. Please do not read this book if you find issues of rape, sexual violence, and disease triggering.
If you fancy diving into a realistic, gripping, and captivating story, these are some of the best recommendations for you! These 20 books all vary in subject matter and theme, so there’s something out there for everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a fictional memoir?
Fictional memoirs are books following a protagonist and their issues but they’re either completely fictionalized or contain fictional elements.
What’s an example of a memoir?
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is one of the most well-read memoirs.
Why is Go Ask Alice controversial?
The book contains explicit descriptions of sex, rape, and drug use making it uncomfortable for many readers.
When is Go Ask Alice set?
It takes place between 1968 and 1970.
What age is Go Ask Alice appropriate for?
Many customers suggest that the book should be read by those over the age of 12 but be sure to read ahead first before allowing any children or adolescents to read it because the themes are dark and explicit.