Last Night I Sang to the Monster
Last Night I Sang to the Monster
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Annotation: Eighteen-year-old Zach does not remember how he came to be in a treatment center for alcoholics, but through therapy and caring friends, his amnesia fades and he learns to face his past while working toward a better future.
Catalog Number: #6151273
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition Date: 2009
Pages: 239 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-935955-09-8
ISBN 13: 978-1-935955-09-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2009015833
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
At 18, Zach can only remember little pieces of his past life. This is partly due to the alcohol abuse that has landed him in a rehab facility. But it is, in larger part, due to something so terrible having happened to him that he has repressed his memories of it. In the process it has become like a monster inside him, so frightful he can't expel it by himself. Fortunately he finds two caring adults s therapist, Adam, and his roommate (and fellow alcoholic), Rafael o struggle to help him with the work of remembering and recovering. Some readers may be put off by the slow pace of Sáenz's story, and the author's language and sensibility sometimes veer dangerously close to bathos. But 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.
Horn Book
Eighteen-year-old Zach finds himself in a rehabilitation center with a host of problems. He gradually comes to terms with the past through sessions with his patient, caring therapist and discussions with his middle-aged roommate, who imparts wisdom and perspective from his own battles with addiction. Few readers will remain unaffected by Zach's poignant, heartfelt journey.
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)
School Library Journal Starred Review
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
Starred Review for 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.)

Voice of Youth Advocates
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 ZachÆs 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, SßenzÆs fine novel should especially appeal to male readers in junior high and high school.ùRachelle Bilz.
Word Count: 71,774
Reading Level: 3.4
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.4 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 134971 / grade: Upper Grades

Last Night I Sang to the Monster was chosen as one of the Top Ten YA Books of Fiction in 2010. Zach is eighteen, bright, and articulate. He's also an alcoholic, in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn't remember how he got there. What's up with that?

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