Last Night I Sang to the Monster
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Last Night I Sang to the Monster

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,903 ratings  ·  290 reviews
Zach is eighteen. He is bright and articulate. He's also an alcoholic and in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn't remember how he got there. He's not sure he wants to remember. Something bad must have happened. Something really, really bad. Remembering sucks and being alive - well, what's up with that?

I have it in my head that when we're born, God writes things do...more
Hardcover, 239 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Cinco Puntos Press
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Most Poetic Book Titles
48th out of 834 books — 474 voters
Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire SáenzFinnikin of the Rock by Melina MarchettaAmy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan MatsonShip Breaker by Paolo BacigalupiRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly
YALSA 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults
1st out of 17 books — 26 voters

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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

Zach is a high school senior. He is also an alcoholic. His mom is depressed, his dad is an alcoholic, and his brother is abusive. Zach has so much pain in his young life that he blocks out the events that led to his stay in rehab.

With the help of a kind and sympathetic therapist, and his roommates, Rafael, a 53-year-old alcoholic further along in his recovery, and Sharkey, a 27-year-old drug addict, Zach begins to confront his past and discovers that life is worth livin...more
Amanda Rose
I wont give a summary of this book, because that's clearly been done about a hundred times below. What I will do, is tell you what I thought of it.

Anyone who has given this book a high rating clearly has no understanding of addiction or teenagers. The language in this book is tedious and obviously contrived. He uses the same expressions over and over in an effort to sound young, or cool, or edgy, but it mostly just comes off as obnoxious. If I had to guess, the author writes "That really tears m...more
May 09, 2010 Thomas rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Thomas by: Nancy
This was a very dark, depressing, disturbing book. Yet, it was also beautiful and bittersweet.

Zach finds himself in a rehabilitation facility with no memory of his past. He struggles with the monster living in his dreams and inhabiting his thoughts. There are people that help him though - like his therapist Adam, who is always the optimist, and his roommate Rafael, a 53-year-old man with the eyes of a young boy. Through his time at the treatment center he tries to conquer his isolation and vanqu...more
Nov 01, 2010 Scott rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: High School and above
I have to say that this has quietly become one of my favorite books. The story is about addiction and the walls in one's life that block recovery. It's about trying to forgive in order to live life. I'll admit it was a slow read for awhile, but I think it was a subconscious thing. The danger is that it's too easy to see yourself in the characters that are portrayed and that can be difficult, especially if you've dealt with any kind of recovery in your life. And who hasn't these days?
More than a...more
update: I'm a rare 5 star person. It has to be an overall good book with a decent plot, sympathetic characters, unobtrusive language and a satisfying ending. And above all else, it should be believable. This book had it all for me.

As for a satisfying ending, some people like non-endings, like how "The Giver" ended. Some people, like G.R.R. Martin wants everyone dead and long forgotten as time marches on. I, more or less, like happy endings.

And believable, even if its paranormal/mythical, there...more
I do like and appreciate what Sáenz presents in this novel, and the writing style holds down a nice sense of prose blended with poetic flair and metaphor. At the same time, this story doesn’t grip me—and I mean really, truly grip me—the way other books do. I’m talking about books like There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Those are books that captivate my attention and emotions and seizes them very firmly. What I’m...more
Peep (Pop! Pop!)
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really love the title of this book. It just really, I don't know, works. Man does this story every just pull on your heartstrings! Zach would definitely be on my list of top 5 protags that need a hug. One of those long hugs that last a few seconds too long, yeah one of those.

The book didn't focus on his addiction or anything, and not too much on his family life. Sure, both things are in the book but really the book is about Zach's journey through reh...more
After savouring this book over a small dosage of caffein and some sacrifices from my sleeping hours, I was a 10 on the happiness scale. Zach was an articulate,brilliant and self-loathing yet amazingly rational guy. He brought up thoughts about how this insane world screwed us up and screwed us.over endless times. I really got to hand it to Zach for stating the obvious we earth people can't see or understand. We blame God and other people responsible for our shitty life when indeed things do occu...more
Jan 09, 2013 Simcsa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Simcsa by: Judies
Sorry Judies, I couldn't get myself out of bed to eat, let alone update. These would have been my updates.


"Look," I said, "all I know is that only thing I'm in charge of is Zach."
Adam smiled. "And how are you doing with that?"
"I'm doing a pretty shitty job if you ask me."

I wanted to ask her if she was better. I mean, if she was getting well. I wondered if something changed inside of you. I mean, there was this talk about change all the time and I wondered how an...more
What a beautifully written book.

Eighteen-year-old Zach is on a journey to discover himself, not that he deliberately chose to begin that journey. He discovers that he is a severe alcoholic and came very close to dying as a result of it.

He begins to discover who he really is and that it is incredibly difficult to accept himself as capable of being loved as well as giving love. He ends up in a facility for people with similar problems and fights tooth and nail to discover the truth about himself...more
I tried reading this once a couple of months ago, but put it down before getting too far into it. So why the five stars now? Because I picked it up again when I was in a sort of funky mood, and that was when I really connected with the story and couldn't put it down. Last Night I Sang to the Monster tells the story of Zach, an alcoholic, who's in a treatment facility for something that happened that he can't and doesn't want to remember. He has a certain philosophy about life:
I have it in my he
Teen Fiction
Beautifully written and extremely sad.

Zack, 18-years-old, wakes up in rehab and cannot remember how he got there. And he does not want to know. Of course, in rehab old scabs aren’t left alone. They have to be picked at and allowed to fester all over again in the name of healing.

Typical stuff in a novel about addiction so I’m not sure what makes this book so memorable. But memorable it is. Highly recommended.

***spoilers/favorite lines/things I want to remember***
pg. 11: I don’t like...more
There are a lot of things I like about this book. I like that (as with Sáenz’s Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, which I loved) the speaker is Mexican-American but that this isn’t an “issue” that the book is trying to work through in any intentional way. I like that the age and situation of the protagonist is unconventional—Zach’s already 18, and he interacts almost exclusively with older people at the treatment facility where he’s recovering from his alcohol addiction and learning to remember the...more
The cover design on this book does no justice to the story revealed within. Whoever created it is trying to be too symbolic. Oh man, torn pieces of paper to represent a young man trying to piece together his repressed life. DERP

The actual story is beautifully written. The reader finds 18 year old Zach living in a rehab center with no recollection of why he is actually there. You start the book knowing that something so terrible, dreadful, awful probably happened that his own brain wouldn't let h...more
Your mother is a agoraphobic, your father is an alcoholic, and your brother is a drug addict and viciously beats you frequently. Zach is just 18 and loves his bourbon. He is brilliant and has plans to make the most of his abilities...but he needs to drink in order to numb the reality of his dysfunctional family. He is on a runway to destruction. He finds himself in rehab, not knowing how he got there or more importantly, why. His dreams are nightmarish and disturbing. While in rehab, Adam, his c...more
Reem Guirgis
This book leaves no room for discussion . After finishing the book I feel an emptiness inside me because of the emotional attachment I grew with the characters , especially Rafael . He was such a inspired , truly amazing character, and I can honestly say the same for every other character involved with this book . It was brilliant . Every word and every letter on every singly page was so unique , and inspired . I felt that the book was an actually intervention with my life . I will always refer...more
This book moved me. So much. I gave it five stars.

My five stars are kind of a rare thing. Or they are lately anyway. But I don't think a book has ever made me cry so much and so many times, during its course. It's making me want to get all poetic but I've never been good at poetry.

But this book was beautiful. See, you could call it angst, except I didn't feel the angst, that's not what I felt. I think it's about human fragility and resilience. Just thinking about it makes my eyes start stingin...more
Mar 09, 2011 Kristi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone; specifically high school and college students
Recommended to Kristi by: YA Lit class
Shelves: young-adult
The prose in this novel is absolutely beautiful! I thought Zach was such a great character! One thing I really enjoyed about Saenz's writing is that even the minor characters, such as Adam, Rafael, Sharkey, and Amit, had depth and growth. Sure, they weren't as fully developed as Zach but through Zach, we were able to see their growth as well. This novel is incredibly hopeful and rich. There are so many beautiful metaphors--slips of paper in the mind, the monster, God writing words on our hearts....more
Steve Kemple
Boo-hoo-hoo, cry me a river via contrived-to-sound-edgy language forming a plot that was probably a reject Lifetime movie script. Not that I have a problem with melodrama in principle, or that I expect all writing to achieve perfect lifelikeness. But all of the above seemed to lack intention & certainty. Sáenz' writing skirts around as if uncomfortable with its own implications. For example, I'm not sure if Sáenz is sure if Zach (the amnesiac/narrator/protagonist) is sure about his sexuality...more

“I’m not sure God knew what he was doing when he put feelings inside of us. What is the purpose for human emotions? Will somebody please tell me?” (p. 21)

“Carpets get stains and people get scars” (p. 97)

“We couldn’t stop laughing. I mean we were really laughing. And I got to thinking that the whole thing really wasn’t that funny, but we were laughing because there was all these feelings inside us and we didn’t always know what to do with all the feeling that were like knots that needed t...more
Oh my soul, what a book. My eyes are leaking!

After reading the absolutely wonderful Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I had to read more of this author’s work.

And so, we have Last Night I Sang to the Monster, published in 2009, and detailing the time in rehab spent by 18-year old Zach, who is an alcoholic with a traumatic past and cannot remember how or why he got there.

I have it in my head that when we’re born, God writes things down on our hearts. See, on some people’...more
Reading this book was very painful. Although it’s hard to imagine a young person having gone through all of the terrible things Zach went through, I think his story probably speaks to a lot of young adults. One of the things that makes this book successful is Zach’s voice. Yes, he throws the f-bomb around a lot, along with several other choice words, but it feels very much like hearing an angry teen talk. For the young adults themselves, this language would likely not seem offensive at all, but...more
Miharu Rokujou
My sister lent this book to me and it's taken me forever to finish reading since college started up and everything. I thought it was a pretty amazing story. It's very well written and the writer was definitely good at giving Zach a voice. Most books these days the main character doesn't have much of a personality, but this one definitely did. He had several catch phrases that didn't get old either. Even though they were repeated, they were used in a way where they didn't get annoying or seem ove...more
Jennifer W
Read this in 2 days! I can't remember the last time I did that!

The odd thing is that I would say I didn't really like the writing style, but the emotions behind it got to me through the whole book. Given that I spent a great deal of time over the past 2 weeks dealing with addicts, you'd think I wouldn't want to come home and read about addicts. If it's done well enough, though, it feels recharging rather than depleting. This was recharging. It was emotional and true. Some people get better, som...more
Alex Mar
Jan 26, 2014 Alex Mar rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: To everyone. Everyone should just read it. Right now. Why aren't you reading it yet?
I haven't cried this much with a book in forever. And I mean the kind of crying where your cheeks are wet and your nose is running and you can't find a bloody tissue anywhere. It just made me feel so much, just... no words. No words.

It just broke me and put me back together and I wanted to hug pretty much every single character in the book.

Yeah. Just. Read it. Please read it. I already have another one of this author's work lined up. Beautiful.
I read this book because I really liked Sammy & Juliana. Unlike S&J, I read this one instead of listening to it, and there were a couple of phrases the narrator leaned on that got on my nerves after a while- 'tear me up', etc. I wonder if the same repetitive use was lyrical when I was listening, but just too much on the page. Or maybe Saenz relied on it too often here. Otherwise, an interesting book with an unrealistically happy ending that I was almost okay with, because the point of th...more
Zita Mary
Snarky smiles. Wigged me out. It tears me up. It stunned me out. Benjamin Alire Sáenz should put himself on contract for using those phrases like a million times in this book. But despite that I still enjoyed the book because I can relate to some stuff in here. Well not the addiction part. I don't do drugs and I'm not an alcoholic. I can relate to the hating-yourself part and the saying-okay-all-the-time part. The hating-yourself part, yeah, I go through that sometimes. I think we all go through...more
A beautifully written book about Zach, a recovering alcoholic and drug user. Zach is in rehab and chooses not to remember how he got there. He's attending group and individual therapy sessions, but can't really see the point of remembering the past. With the help of his roommate, Rafael, and his therapist, Adam, Zach slowly begins to do the work necessary for him to regain his life and look to a brighter future. This book touched me in a very profound way, and had me grieving for all the childre...more
Buzzwords: addiction, alcoholism, depression, self-loathing, rehab, abuse, art/music/words, friendship/love, lbgt, self-control

Zach is a high school senior in a rehab facility. He can't remember how he got there, and he doesn't want to, but he spends too much time in his head not to remember more than he wants to about his past - his depressed mother, alcoholic father, abusive brother. The monsters of his addictions and his past/future haunt him. But with the help of his therapist, Adam (who he...more
Warren-Newport Public Library
It makes me really sad that it took me so long to find Sáenz's work. It is so incredibly lyrical and moving and devastatingly honest. I really loved it.

pg. 11
I have it in my head that when we're born, God writes things on our hearts. See, on some people's hearts he writes happy and on some people's hearts he writes sad and on some people's hearts he writes crazy and on some people's hearts he writes genius and on some people's hearts he writes angry and on some people's hearts he writes winner a...more
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Wild Things: YA G...: Last Night I Sang to the Monster 1 6 Oct 06, 2013 02:30PM  
What's The Name o...: YA novel about a mentally ill teenage boy [s] 6 44 Aug 05, 2013 09:45PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Page Numbers 2 22 Sep 04, 2011 11:26AM  
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  • Right Behind You
  • Zane's Trace
  • After the Strawberry
  • Break
  • Split
  • Glimpse
  • Bait
  • Beauty Queen
  • Crosses
  • Unwell
  • What They Always Tell Us
  • Target
  • I Don't Want To Be Crazy
  • Red Tears
Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children's books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humaniti...more
More about Benjamin Alire Sáenz...
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“All my friends thought I was a very happy human being. Because that's how I acted- like a really happy human being. But all that pretending made me tired. If I acted the way I felt, then I doubt my friends would have really hung out with me. So the pretending wasn't all bad. The pretending made me less lonely. But in another was, it made me more lonely because I felt like a fraud. I've always felt like a fake human being.” 52 likes
“I don't like remembering.
Remembering makes me feel things.
I don't like to feel things.

I'm thinking I could spend the rest of my life becoming an expert at forgetting”
More quotes…