Book Review: Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Title: Last Night I Sang to the Monster

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 239

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes

Zach is eighteen years old and he’s in a rehab facility for alcoholism. His disgustingly dysfunctional family (including an extremely violent brother and a mom who tries to seduce him) has driven him to the point of no return and the only person who seems to stand in the way between him and oblivion is his therapist, Adam. Then Zach forms bonds with several of his fellow addicts and he begins to realize that self-forgiveness is key if he wants to save himself.

As you might have guessed from my opening paragraph, this is an unusually dark YA book about the devastating effects of trauma. Like the other books I’ve read by Benjamin Alire Saenz (The Inexplicable Logic of My Life and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe) I had some issues with the writing style. Zach’s narrative voice sounds way too young for an eighteen-year-old (he sounds more like he’s about twelve) and the writing can be a bit rambly and repetitive, especially the dialogue. I liked the rawness of Zach’s emotions and the father-son type relationship between him and one of the fellow patients, Raphael.

Zach (and Raphael, for that matter)’s sexualities are also kept interestingly ambiguous, putting less focus on romantic relationships and more focus on recovery from abuse. Zach’s character is easy to root for and it’s intriguing to see his connections with people in the rehab facility and how they (not just the therapist) affect the way he sees himself. While not one of my favorite YAs, this is a solid book that is definitely a must-read for fans of the author.


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