I was so naïve once. I had no idea for many years that Jay’s Journal is like 75% the work of the late fraud “Dr.” Beatrice Sparks, nor that she also was the sole or primary author of other frauds including Go Ask Alice and It Happened to Nancy. Who the hell was this old crank’s agent or editor? Who even gave her a publishing deal or writing contract?
This book is notable for being the only known, verified instance of having originally come from a real teen’s journal. The young man who wrote about 25 of the entries included in the published product was named Alden Barrett. He did keep a journal, he did suffer from depression and personal problems, and he did take his own life in 1971. After his suicide, his parents gave his journal to Sparks, in the sadly mistaken belief that she’d be able to help other troubled teens as she’d done with her first fraud, Go Ask Alice.
The result was a book that only contained about 25 entries written by Alden, identified as “Jay.” The Barrett family were horrified at how many liberties this crank had taken with his journal. She invented a bizarre Satanic theme and included material she’d culled from meeting with real teens who were involved in cults. Other stuff she just made up out of her own twisted mind.
While Satanism isn’t one of the world religions I’ve looked into in much depth, from what superficial basics I do know, it isn’t anything like what’s depicted here. Only cults that have nothing to do with real, official Satanism do things like ritually kill cats, drink cows’ blood, shred voodoo dolls, and drink mixtures of drugs and animal blood.
Apparently Sparks didn’t do such a stellar job of changing identifying information, and the community in American Fork, Utah quickly figured out just who this book was written by and where it was set. They were so disturbed by the alleged Satanism that the family had to leave town and the parents eventually divorced. Alden’s gravestone was desecrated several times, and once it was stolen and then returned facing the opposite direction. All because they trusted the wrong person, not realizing she’d use Alden’s journal as propaganda for her self-righteous agenda.
The entries from the real Alden naturally feel a lot more authentic than the fraudulent ones. They read like they were written by a real teen, since they were. In hindsight, after finding out the real, sad story, I realized that he does go from genius honors student and active community member to druggie, disturbed Satanist far too quickly. No one switches personalities that quickly, even if drugs are involved.
Sparks’s version of events:
Jay/Alden starts out as a brilliant honours student, a genius-level IQ, a devoted church-goer, active in the debate team, working well in his father’s store, and very tight with his two lifelong best friends. But he falls under the influence of an addicted girlfriend and is soon putting drugs in the prescriptions in his dad’s drugstore, as well as stealing to feed her habit. He knows it’s very dangerous and might hurt innocent people, but he likes her so much he doesn’t seem to care longterm.
After he’s caught, he’s shipped off to some kind of reform school, where he falls under the influence of a man who secretly teaches him about auras, projection, crystals, all sorts of occult and paranormal things. Jay/Alden has been brought up a devoted church-goer, and questions the veracity of some of these things, but starts thinking that maybe they’re not so bogus after all. (Later it comes out that this mentor raped a 10-year-old boy in a broom closet.)
After he comes home, he recruits his two best friends. Then he falls under the influence of people heavily into the occult. Soon they’re making voodoo dolls of their enemies and getting great results. Jay is freaked out, but gets even deeper and more excited when he and his friends start sacrificing animals and drinking their blood.
He and his new girlfriend are married in a Satanic ceremony involving slain cats, before things get really really freaky in an initiation ceremony. They all go up to a cabin and are made to drink a concoction of drugs and animal blood, and levitate outside their bodies, doing things they didn’t want to do but have no control over.
Soon after this, Jay and his friends get possessed by the Devil, evil scary things start happening, and a demonic spirit comes to Jay’s house and talks to him, later jumping into the family cat. Really freaky spooky stuff. My hair was standing on end while I was reading this.
Jay feels it’s all heading out of control. He decides to try to come clean and confess to his parents, and to talk to his pastor. But it’s too late. His next entry says he doesn’t want any part of the things living people have and enjoy, and he kills himself.
There’s a special place in Hell for people like Beatrice Sparks. What she did was just vile, using a real young man’s journal and twisting it into a story of a Satanic cult just to continue her holier than thou crusade.