Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Review: Last Night I Sang to the Monster

"Some people have dogs. Not me. I have a therapist. His name is Adam.
     I'd rather have a dog."

Each year before spring break the 9th grade human development class comes to the library to check out fiction books on serious topics they cover in human development class. I set aside books about addiction, divorce, sexual identity, racial identity, eating disorders, etc, and the students can choose whatever they want to read about. This year the kids will make book trailers for their choices.

I try to read some new books for this project each year, and I just finished a fabulous one: Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Zach is 18, an alcoholic,  and in rehab.  He slowly remembers what brought him to this place - his family. Each of his family members has a part to play in his abusive childhood, but it takes him the whole book to remember the incident that actually brought him to rehab.


With the help of kind Adam, his therapist, Rafael, a father-like figure to him who is also a patient, and the other "clients" at the facility, Zach finds his voice and his will to live. A sad novel with hope at the end, readers will admire Zach's will to get better.
 
Zach believes that God predicts your temperament in life. He says, “I have it in my head that when we’re born, God writes things down 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 and on some people’s hearts he writes loser… And it’s all pretty much random. He takes out his pen and starts writing on our blank hearts. And when it came to my turn, he wrote sad.” (pg. 11)
Zach is a great main character, full of warmth and insight, and I recommend getting to know him.

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