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

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  3,825 Ratings  ·  575 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 dow

Kindle Edition
Published (first published September 1st 2009)
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Heather Different, but amazing in its own write ;). I've read both and together they put Sáenz in my 'all-time favorite authors' category

Community Reviews

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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
Debbie "DJ"
I found this to be a little too simplistic for me. A lot of the dialogue felt repetitive, and it wasn't until near the ending that I learned what had happened to the main character. While this may not be a bad thing, it felt like much of the story was "filler" until I got there. Might be a better read for a younger person.
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
May 09, 2010 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Arch Bala
Eighteen-year-old Zach does not remember why he’s in a rehabilitation center for alcoholics, but with therapy and group sessions, he soon finds out that he’s capable of dealing with his past and be able to work on his recovery.

I decided to pick this up when I found out that the author was working on the sequel of 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 stor
Nov 01, 2010 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 06, 2015 tanja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Sáenz did it again. God wrote brilliant on his heart, and this book wrote grateful on mine. I am grateful for this story and for what it taught me.

This book is heartbreakingly underrated, so if you’re doubting whether or not you should give it a go, do it. You won’t regret it.
Jan 09, 2013 Simcsa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Simcsa by: Jitka
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
Mar 19, 2012 Raya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
First there was this:

Then, after an intense journey of heart-stretching, mind-opening scenes of pain and love via real, honest and perfectly paced storytelling, there was this:

The ending was a miracle, like a breath of oxygen-rich air after rain.

Edit: ...still thinking about this book, a week later...

The day I returned this book, I gushed to the librarian how spectacular this book was. She inquired, "What's it about?" I stumbled through some ineffectual, inane, bumbling description. Only later,
Have you ever read anything that put a sick, shook up feeling in your stomach? Like the words you just read put a dark cloud over your head and made you feel not just sad, but slightly ill? That's how I felt for so much of Last Night I Sang to the Monster...

This book is heavy, but luckily it is written in this really beautiful, poetic way that allowed me to still enjoy it as a literary work. Also, thank goodness, there is some sun shine peeking through those dark clouds by the end. So much of it
Rebecca McNutt
May 17, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zach's story isn't just your run-of-the-mill sympathy-evoking troubled teen novel. Instead, it was written very honestly and truthfully, at times funny and at other times deeply serious. It was intriguing, gripping and vivid the whole way through.
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
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
Dec 23, 2015 Javi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful ride. At times brutally depressing but ultimately uplifting, it tells the story of Zach, a high school senior who's in rehab but has no idea how he got there or why. He kind of knows he's an alcoholic but he doesn't really want to remember. This is book is all about the process of therapy, it's a journey through the darkest memories of a confused teeenager who simply wants things to stay the same so he doesn't have to face his demons. During this journey, he starts remembering b ...more
"You know, Zach, I think sometimes we fall in love with our monsters."

Benjamin Alire Saenz didn't shy away to vividly write the anguish of those troubled people. It was a disturbing and heartwrenching read to know that this is actually happening in real life. That there are these actual people who suffer from tremendous pain.

Eigteen-year-old Zach suffers from alcoholism and anxiety and doesn't remember anything what he is doing in a rehabilitation. He doesn't want to remember because remembering
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
Jean Claudia (Bookish Poetess)
"I’ve decided that this is the good thing about God. He gives you second chances."

If I was going to rate my pain from the scale of 1 to 10, whereas 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, I would rate this an 8. That's high enough for a book. It doesn't made me ugly cry, just teary eyes, but it hurts so much that I felt someone was squeezing my heart until it stops beating then suddenly releases then did it all over again. Probably that someone was Mr. Benjamin Alire Saenz. That's how painf
Yara (The Narratologist)
We tend to think of grief and mourning as maladies of the mind, but the loss can grow and expand until it feels like more like a presence than an absence. In the poem “Death Barged In,” Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno describes her pain as a mysterious figure in a Russian greatcoat who barges in, slams the door, and now makes all her decisions for her:

Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
clamping two
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down
and whispers to my neck,
From now on,
you write about me.

I re
Feb 08, 2016 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, ya-fiction
Wow. That's almost all I have to say about this book. I started reading it with selfish intentions: I wanted this piece of fiction to somehow be a guide as to how I could quit my own addictions. I left the book and that initial wish was not fulfilled, but I could not care less. Saenz has the most incredible gift for characterization, as well as writing beautifully but not pretentiously. It is so realistic, from the raw emotion that was conveyed to the modern dialogue. Yet, it was not all too com ...more
Jun 04, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
*An edit two years after on 5/6/16

I remember the plot dragging, the overuse of words and how slowly I went through this book. Seeing my rating, it is clear that the emotive and explanatory ending resulted in my high rating. This wasn't excellent, but the issues seen through many characters not just the protagonist was likely to have increased my rating. I would probably rate this 3/5 stars because I know I didn't LOVE the book, but the ending was good.
I've read lots of books about people going to a psych ward but this was probably the only one when the character does some real recovery.
I don't know; it was beautiful and dark and profound and really really touching.
Dec 31, 2015 fran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2015
holy shit this book i don't have words
Hannah (fullybookedreviews)
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’
Emir Saldierna
May 01, 2016 Emir Saldierna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Antes de dar mi opinión quiero decirle dos cosas al autor:

· I love you for writing this, and know how to connect and touch me like you only know how an amazing author can connect with his readers. You're unique, and I love you, and hope that's okay.
· I hate you for making me cry of joy with this book. Is the second time a book of yours made me cry of joy like that. I hate you for that.

(Ambas cosas hacen referencia al libro).

La manera de escribir de Benjamin es hermosa, cualquiera que haya leído
Jul 25, 2015 Yanisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
**4.5 STARS**
I like the words that are beautiful and in this book.
There is a pattern in this authors writing style, in the way he ties words together that seem like they don't even belong in the same world. I liked the ongoing theme of god dictating your life through the words that he places on our hearts. I don't actually believe in any certain religion, but I do like the idea of it- it makes me feel sad and vulnerable. I like its change to allowing the people around you to affect you too. I th
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
Apr 02, 2010 Maicie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 24, 2015 Sylwia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A while ago I wrote an essay on the 'Hyena' by a Scottish poet, Edwin Morgan. My favourite part reads as follows:

Do you like my song?
When the moon pours hard and cold on the veldt
I sing, and I am the slave of darkness.
Over the stone walls and the mud walls and the ruined places
and the owls, the moonlight falls.
I sniff a broken drum. I bristle. My pelt is silver.
I howl my song to the moon – up it goes.
Would you meet me there in the waste places?

You see, reading Zach's words brought that hyena to
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  • With or Without You
  • Crazy
  • Bait
  • Right Behind You
  • Skin
  • Leverage
  • Split
  • After the Strawberry
  • Target
  • The Things a Brother Knows
  • Break
  • Zane's Trace
  • The Shape of Water
  • Exposed
  • Suicide Watch
  • I Don't Want To Be Crazy (Push)
  • Clean
  • Personal Effects
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 about Benjamin Alire Sáenz...

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“The heart can get really cold if all you've known is winter.” 195 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…