Jay's Journal

Jay's Journal
Jay's Journal is the journal of a 16 year old boy, Jay that was "found" after his untimely death.  The journal was "given" to Beatrice Sparks by his mother.  She has also "edited" Go Ask Alice- another "anonymous" journal that she published.  There is much debate over the authenticity of both journals... you can find more information about the debates here (Go Ask Alice) and here (Jay's Journal).  She has "edited" many other "true diaries" as well, but the only ones I have read or looked into are the aforementioned.

***be aware that this review does contain spoilers***

This journal is the story of Jay, a troubled young boy growing up in the seventies and trying to find his footing in life- school, family, friends, faith.  Jay begins the journal due to the insistence of those around him.  As he moves through the story, Jay thinks he has found his one true love, but she is mixed up in some serious drugs.  His two best friends, Dell and Brad try to warn him, telling him that Debbie has "been around the block".  After months of providing for her addiction (and of course playing with fire himself) he gets caught stealing pills from his fathers pharmacy.  Sent off to reform school, Jay is miserable.  He hates the other kids there and all the staff.  Missing his friends and his family, he begins to form a bond with a staff member.  Before he realizes it, he starts to dabble in the Occult, learning about magical powers and witchcraft.  Swearing it (and Debbie) off for good before he discharges home, Jay seems to have finally gotten his act together.  However, once he gets home he starts to go up and down on the roller coaster again.  Getting in with another girl, getting deeper into the Occult and witchcraft, Jay's life begins to spiral out of control.  Eventually things get too heavy and much too real, and Jay begins to lose control of everything in his life.  He feels he is being visited by a demon, Raul, who wants his body (that Jay has ceremoniously "given" to him).  As his world begins to crumble around him, Jay begins to crumble inside... the coven with which he was associating with is getting stranger and stronger. Then his two best friends end up dead.  Jay finally ends it all by taking his own life.
Take the story as you will- it is definitely a cautionary tale.  As noted above, the debate surrounding the book is large- google it and you find a lot of entries. However, there is another side.  Some of the material is from Jay (real name- Alden Barrett) and some is from the journal entries / discussions of her other clients... seemingly making some of it true?  The entire Occult, witchcraft, voodoo, auras and Astra explored in the journal are very real- many people practice such beliefs, although I am sure that there is fabrication in this story. Whether or not you believe that these things (witchcraft, supernatural etc) do exist and have power is moot.  Could there be potential that black magic (witchcraft, occult, etc..) really did play a part in Alan Barrett and other local kids deaths?
 Jay's Journal was interesting for sure...

I do want to weigh in on Beatrice Sparks. I personally think she is a fraud.  I also don't think her intentions are pure.  I think that she wrote these journals based on her clients (many all meshed together) and her own ideas on what should and what shouldn't be... and then uses the tragedy of a suicide or death of a teenager to drive her point home- she makes sure to kill off the protagonist to make a statement about it.  I believe that she is trying to throw her judgements on teenagers... basically telling them that ANY exploration outside of her faith is bad, dangerous, deadly.  If you take a look at her other works, all of them carry a similar theme: cautionary tales that stem from her beliefs: Occult/witchcraft/supernatural powers are always indicative of devil worship.. AIDS and teen pregnancy are both works of premarital sex (as in, sex after marriage you are safe from unplanned pregnancy and AIDS)... prostitution, drugs or other mind-altering ideas/substances always have a hand from the devil.  Now, don't get me wrong- having faith is a wonderful thing, and I think that whatever faith is to you is wonderful- if it makes you happy and doesn't hurt.  But I also very strongly believe that every day is a chance to learn and grow, and that children and teenagers should be encouraged to do so.... if it isn't illegal and it isn't harming someone else, it is the FREEDOM of human right.  Humans are inquisitive.. if we shut that off at a young age by making teens and children feel like exploration or questioning (of anything- other faiths, sexual curiosity, questioning, occult, magic, government) is wrong, we are doing a disservice to the world.  We fear what we do not know.  What is most wrong with Sparks is pushing judgement and ideas, and LYING about it to get an end (in her case, fame as well as scaring teens "straight").  I just think that she wants to rid the world of certain things, and killing off a protagonist as a warning is her way of doing it.
Freedom of thought is our only true freedom... and Sparks is trying to crush it by scaring the shit out of a whole bunch of teenagers and parents alike.

By the way, Googling Alden Barrett, Beatrice Sparks, Jay's Journal all come up with very seriously interesting stuff.  Apparently there was some crazy stuff going on in Utah in the 70s...
I did enjoy the 2 that I have read- as fiction, and will probably read the others if for nothing more than to further prove my opinion.

if you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

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