Book Review: Last Night I Sang to the Monster – Benjamin Alire Sáenz


Published September 1st 2009
Format: Novel
Genre: Fiction /Family/Contemporary/YA
Length: 250 pages, ebook
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Cover Artist: Antonio Castro H.
Ebook ISBN: 1933693797
Characters: Zach Gonzalez

Eighteen-year-old Zach does not remember why he’s in a rehabilitation center for alcoholics. Still, with therapy and group sessions, he soon finds out that he can deal with his past and work on his recovery.

I decided to pick this up when I found out that the author is working on his multi-awarded novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I just wanted to get a feel again of how this author lured me the way he did with Ari and Dante’s story, and this one gave me those feelings again! And this came out three years before Ari and Dante]

What an incredible novel! The quality of his writing is impeccable. His characterization is rich, and the realism behind each character masked through his beautiful prose is fucking genius! Seriously, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I laughed with Zach, cried with him, and all those crazy mixed-up emotions that it felt like I was living his life.

I believe this story. I devoured everything in it, although Zach may have excessively used a few expressions–I thought these were part of his personality where he could not fully articulate himself, mainly depending on his private conversations with himself.

While reading it, I was Zach in the story – not that I’m an alcoholic, an addict, or something, but there’s something about his character that resonates with me. The ‘lost me,’ the ‘little boy’ me that may have been looking for some happiness. I dunno, it’s almost depressing to think about those times while I’m writing this review, but yeah, I guess the book is depressing but not in an “I will wallow in this shit and cry myself to sleep” kind of way. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you have a choice to read this book and get all weepy about it or read this, wallow in it but expect that there’s some happy ending waiting for you. I liked that in this book. It’s dark in a way that it shows the reality of people suffering from addiction. There was no sugarcoating the fact that it’s not just about destroying themselves. Still, it’s also about destroying everything around them, but most importantly – something I’ve gathered from experience that it’s a cry for help.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster is evocative prose of a novel that will leave you enthralled with Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s artistry! What a genuinely delightful masterpiece!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Published September 1st 2009 by Cinco Puntos Press

About the Author
Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. He was the first Hispanic winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and a recipient of the American Book Award for his books for adults. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a Printz Honor Book, the Stonewall Award winner, the Pura Belpré Award winner, the Lambda Literary Award winner, and a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. His first novel for teens, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second book for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Southwest Book Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. He lives in El Paso, Texas.

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