Last Night I Sang to the Monster

Last Night I Sang to the Monster

4.7 16
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
     
 

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A finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award, this novel sensitively captures the angst of a teenage alcoholic in rehab.See more details below

Overview


A finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award, this novel sensitively captures the angst of a teenage alcoholic in rehab.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Sáenz weaves together Zach’s past, present, and changing disposition toward his future with stylistic grace and emotional insight. This is a powerful and edifying look into both a tortured psyche and the methods by which it can be healed." —School Library Journal, starred review

"Offering insight into addiction, dysfunction and mental illness, particularly in the wake of traumatic events, Sáenz’s artful rendition of the healing process will not soon be forgotten." —Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"Zach's first-person voice is compelling and heartbreaking. Sáenz' poetic narrative will captivate readers from the first sentence to the last paragraph of this beautifully written novel, which explores the painful journey of an adolescent through the labyrinth of addiction and alcoholism. It is also a celebration of life and a song of hope in celebration of family and friendship, one that will resonate loud and long with teens." —Kirkus Reviews

"There is never a question of either Sáenz’s own extraordinary capacity for caring and compassion or the authenticity of the experiences he records in this heartfelt account of healing and hope." —Booklist

"Benjamin Alire Saenz’s new novel is a gift of honesty and poetry and heart… This novel sang to me from the opening page and never once hit a false note." —Matt de la Peña

"I cried with Zach all the way through this book: tears of rage and sorrow—sometimes laughing—and finally, tears of hope and joy. Thanks to Ben Saenz’ pitch-perfect writing, Zach will stay in my heart for a long time." —Linda Sue Park, author of When My Name Was Keoko

"Benjamin Alire Sáenz's most devastating and exquisite novel to date." —El Paso Times

"Zach’s story as an alcoholic is a painful but positive reaffirmation of the human spirit." —Library Media Connection

"Sáenz does a wonderful job of painting Zach’s struggle while in a rehab center where the Zach fights his inner monster. This inspirational story can help middle to high school students learn about the beauty of life, hope, healing and family." —Oneota Reading Journal

"Last Night I Sang to the Monster will provide younger readers with reassurance that they are not alone in dealing with the demons of dysfunctional families and painful memories." —El Paso Scene

Publishers Weekly
“I don’t like remembering. Remembering makes me feel things. I don’t like feeling things,” writes Zach as a homework assignment from his therapist at the outset of this psychologically intense novel. Tracing 18-year-old Zach’s somewhat disjointed but utterly candid monologue during his stint at an institution, readers will feel his fear as he remembers the events leading to his hospitalization and meet his “monster,” the unnamed force that appears in his dreams. But breaking through the chaos of Zach’s internal worldare two remarkable individuals: his fatherly roommate, Rafael, and therapist, Adam, whose determination to make Zach whole again never falters. Zach’s progress advances in small steps, and there are plenty of setbacks. Fellow patients who have become his friends leave suddenly, and the sadness of other lost souls is nearly too much for Zach. However, the good that comes from his struggles far outweighs the dark moments. Offering insight into addiction, dysfunction and mental illness, particularly in the wake of traumatic events, Sáenz’s (He Forgot to Say Goodbye) artful rendition of the healing process will not soon be forgotten. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Jennifer Keeney
Zach does not want to remember. He is in a rehabilitation center and has a very patient therapist named Adam, but he still does not want to remember his painful past. Zach firmly believes that God wrote "sad" on his soul. Benjamin Alire Saenz beautifully characterizes Zach, an eighteen-year-old addict who, despite his lost childhood, is tremendously gifted and perceptive. The reader is given pieces of Zach, a few at first, and then more and more as he builds a profound relationship with his older roommate Rafael. Through Rafael's kindness and honesty, Zach finds a father that he never had. Eventually, Zach finds his voice and tells his life story. It is only then that the true nature of his trauma is revealed. This was the most heart wrenching, emotional tale that I have read in a very long time. Saenz manages to deliver a message of hope and promise out of an abyss of sadness and injustice. Reviewer: Jennifer Keeney
VOYA - Rachelle Bilz
Eighteen-year-old Zachariah Johnson Gonzalez, half Mexican, half Anglo, wakes up in a rehab center with no memory of how he got there or why. As Zach works through his alcoholism, anxiety, and depression, he rediscovers his painful past and unearths terrible family secrets. When Zach finds himself in Cabin 9 with two older roommates, he is angry and confused. Fifty-three-year-old Rafael seems like an old man to him and Sharkey, twenty-eight and a drug addict, initially dislikes Zach. Through group therapy sessions and late night talks, Zach forms good relationships with these men. When Sharkey runs out of a therapy session, never to return, Zach misses him and worries that he will not survive in the world. After Rafael breaks down and explains that he blames himself for the death of his son, Zach sees that he must face his own traumas (monsters) in order to become whole again. Told in Zach's voice, this powerful, affecting novel portrays both great sadness and great hope. Although he has suffered abuse and terrible pain, Zach is a survivor. Through his own inner strength and the love of others, Zach evidences the resiliency of the human spirit. Through Zach, teen readers will realize that young men suffer and feel pain and that it is okay to cry and need love. Realistic and believable, Saenz's fine novel should especially appeal to male readers in junior high and high school. Reviewer: Rachelle Bilz
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—At 18, Zach finds himself in a therapeutic residential program as both an alcoholic and a post-traumatic-stress patient. In evocative and compelling language, Sáenz allows an at-first barely articulate, almost amnesiac Zach to show his progress toward remembering and integrating his past into a present with which he can cope. He is guided along the way by a sympathetic and wise therapist, a middle-aged roommate whose own recovery is on an arc ahead of the youth's, and several credible and interesting minor characters. The techniques and realities of such a facility are realistic and fully drawn: addicts who gather for cigarettes, nightmares, group sessions, breathing therapy. Sáenz weaves together Zach's past, present, and changing disposition toward his future with stylistic grace and emotional insight. This is a powerful and edifying look into both a tortured psyche and the methods by which it can be healed.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia
Kirkus Reviews
Zach is full of words: An artist lives inside him. He loves reading, and some time ago he wished to be a good student, but now he only knows silence. Zach is brilliant, but he is confused, lonely and hopeless. He did not choose his alcoholic father, his depressive mother and his abusive brother. He wanted to escape from a house that was not a home anymore, from the monster that appears in his dreams, from his memories, nightmares and imaginary conversations. One day Zach wakes up in Cabin 9, bed 3, at a rehabilitation center. He does not want to remember how he got there; he just wants to forget. Zach's first-person voice is compelling and heartbreaking. Saenz' poetic narrative will captivate readers from the first sentence to the last paragraph of this beautifully written novel, which explores the painful journey of an adolescent through the labyrinth of addiction and alcoholism. It is also a celebration of life and a song of hope in celebration of family and friendship, one that will resonate loud and long with teens. (Fiction. YA)
Kimberly Coyle
Zach is an alcoholic. He has many secrets that he keeps hidden in the confines of his sadness. Instead of attending his senior year of high school, Zach finds himself in a rehab facility having to face his monstrous memories of drugs, alcohol, abuse, and death. The only problem is Zach doesn't want to remember, because with remembering comes excruciating pain. Together with the help of his therapist and his fatherly roommate, Zach is able to face his monsters and break through the chaos of his internal world. Zach struggles through the labyrinth of addiction, ending up in a circle of hope and love. Saenez's novel artfully depicts the delicate world of the addict—the struggles, the setbacks, and the moments of light that create a path toward healing. This powerful and emotionally demanding story will resonate in teenage minds for a long time. Reviewer: Kimberly Coyle

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935955092
Publisher:
Cinco Puntos Press
Publication date:
04/03/2012
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
554,952
Product dimensions:
6.06(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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