Jay's Journal

From Academic Kids

Jay's Journal, which is presented as an autobiographical account, is a book which tells the story of a depressed teenage boy who becomes involved with a Satanic group. After participating in several occult rituals, "Jay" believes he is being stalked by a demon named Raul. The book is based on true events of 16-year-old Alden Barrett from Pleasant Grove, Utah, who committed suicide in 1971.

Some critics have challenged the complete authenticity of this story, noting that the editor of this book, Beatrice Sparks, has filled the same role on many other "actual, anonymous diaries of teenagers" that explore such sensational themes as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, and prostitution. These books, the most well-known of which is Go Ask Alice, serve as cautionary tales.

It is alleged by residents of Pleasant Grove familiar with the family and author that Alden's mother, Marcella, is the author and uses "Beatrice Sparks" as a pen name. This has been proven false, however. The publishing of the book lead to a falling out with the family, and the divorce of Alden's parents.

According to a book written by Barrett's brother Scott (A Place in the Sun: The Truth Behind Jay's Journal), and interviews with the family, Sparks used roughly 25 entries from Barrett's actual journal entries and took literary license with the rest, based on case histories from other teenagers she worked with and interviews of friends and acqaintances of Barrett.

A rock opera titled A Place in the Sun was created and performed in 1997 by the Utah County band Grain. According to some family members, it was a more accurate portrayal and showed Sparks' alleged exploitation of the story.

Within the city of Pleasant Grove, Jay's Journal has been the source of many urban legends, including alleged locations where Jay performed actions described in the book, his home, the effect on his family after his death, and other rumors.

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