|Author||Anonymous (edited by Beatrice Sparks)|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
Jay's Journal is a book presented as an autobiographical account of a depressed teenage boy who becomes involved with a Satanic group. After participating in several occult rituals, "Jay" believes he is being haunted 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 authenticity of the 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.
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 of 212 total from Barrett's actual journal. The other entries were fictional, with Sparks claiming they were based on case histories from other teenagers Sparks worked with and interviews of friends and acquaintances of Barrett.
A rock opera titled A Place in the Sun was created and performed by Utah country band Grain in 1997. 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.
Due to allegations of ritual cattle mutilation arising in Jay's Journal, the book came to the attention of Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers investigating reports of killed and mutilated cows in Alberta.
- Blog entry on the "Mormon Horror Fiction" of Jay's Journal
- Review of Grain's A Place in the Sun rock opera
- Teen Death Diary by Ben Dieterle in Salt Lake City Weekly, June 3, 2004 discusses the issues and controversies related to Barrett's death and Jay's Journal. Archive.org link access 4/27/2014.
- Debunking by Snopes of the anti-drug tale Go Ask Alice, also written by Beatrice Sparks.