JAY'S JOURNAL by Beatrice--Ed. Sparks


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Go Ask Alice (1971) was her first attempt to ""educate young people as to the problems and pressures and weaknesses of their peers""; Voices (p. 629) exchanged the diary format for a series of interviews with disturbed teenagers; now Beatrice Sparks has discovered another sensational diary by a bright-butconfused kid. Jay was only 16 when he committed suicide--racked by guilt and a sense of lost autonomy, grappling with the effects of witchcraft, voodoo, and drugs. If Jay is to be believed, the descent into such depths as cattle mutilation, voodoo murder, and the companionship of fallen angels (his is named Raul) is becoming more common among teenagers, and drugs are pervasive. Jay attempted to handle his exposure to the supernatural as a scientific experiment; he romanticized himself as an ""instrument"" to bring mankind the magic powers of the ancients. Whatever sympathy Jay's confidences evoke, however, derives not from the external horrifics but from his inner conflicts--the struggle for power between the hostile rebel and the dutiful son, brother, and churchgoer who has partially internalized conventional perspectives (""We were just four asshole kids looking for excitement""). Does this kind of confessional literature carry true instructive and preventive value for its readers? Jay's Journal does convey the terror and desperation of a boy sucked deeper and deeper into a vortex beyond his control. But many readers will view the publication of graphic descriptions about the occult as exploitation designed chiefly to levitate hair on the back of the neck.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1978
Publisher: Times Books