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Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
October 12, 2009
--Cinco Puntos Press

Critics are raving about Last Night I Sang to the Monster, the new young adult novel by LA Times Book Prize finalist Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Both Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal awarded the book with STARRED REVIEWS.

Want to learn more about the book? Click on the video to the left to watch Ben read the first section of Last Night I Sang to the Monster.

Enter our drawing to win one of ten signed, first-edition copies of the book by sending an email to info@cincopuntos.com. Make sure to send your email by Tuesday, October 20, 2009. And don’t forget to include your mailing address and tell us where you heard about the contest.

Here’s what the critics are saying:
Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW: "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 world are 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.
Last Night I Sang to the Monster cover
School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW: 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.

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. Sáenz' 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.

Click here to learn more about Last Night I Sang to the Monster.

Click here to learn more about Benjamin Alire Saenz and his other books.

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