October 4, 2010

YA BOOK: LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER

    
LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER
By Benjamin Alire Saenz
Cinco Puntos Press
Finalist of the PEN USA Award in the Young Adult category


“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 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. It’s all like a game to him. Him. God. And it’s all pretty much random. He takes out his pen and starts writing on our blank hearts. When it came to my turn, he wrote Sad. I don’t like God very much. Apparently he doesn’t like me very much either.” --Zach, protagonist






Saenz captures the vulnerability and defiance of youth beautifully in his latest novel.  It is a poignant, heart wrenching and, sometimes too realistic, reflection of our society. It’s the story of a boy -- yes, an 18 year old is still a child -- struggling to survive his family, his hormones, his addiction, his life.  It’s also a story about the importance of family, either the one you are born into or the one you welcome into your life.    


SUMMARY:    At 18, Zachariah “Zach” Johnson Gonzalez wakes up one morning with a hell of a hangover and no memory of how he got to Cabin 9 in a rehab center. And, he doesn’t want to remember….not his alcoholic father, manic-depressive mother, abusive older brother, nor the “monster” he drank to forget. Slowly with the help of his therapist – he’d rather have a dog! – and, the help of his newly adopted family, his cabin mates, Zach begins to remember and to heal.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Benjamin Alire Saenz is an artist, poet, novelist and a writer of children’s books. His first novel, SAMMY AND JULIANA IN HOLLYWOOD, was a finalist for the LA Times Prize and a YALSA Top Ten Books for Young Adults pick in 2005. He has been awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in poetry, a Lannan Poetry Fellowship, an American Book Award, The Paterson Book Prize, the Americas Awards, the Tomas Rivera Award, the Southwest Book Award, and has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Some of his books include: CARRY ME LIKE WATER, HE FORGOT TO SAY GOODBYE, A GIFT FOR PAPA DIEGO, THE DOG WHO LOVED TORTILLAS. His fifth book of poems, THE BOOK OF WHAT REMAINS, was published earlier this year.
        His new novel, LAST NIGHT I SANG OT THE MONSTER, is a finalist of the PEN USA Award in the Young Adult category, and was named one of the best books of the year by School Library Journal.


COMMENT:   Have you read Zach's story?  Let us know what you thought.