A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the award-winning Last Night I Sang to the Monster is a novel about a teen dealing with his alcohol addiction and a dysfunctional and abusive family. Originally published in 2009, it was released in paperback in April 2012. This is a book about addicts in a recovery facility, so characters smoke, drink, use cocaine, and shoot heroin. This behavior is not glamorized but shown as something addicts do to fill a void in their lives. Be prepared for lots of profane language (including "f--k" and "s--t") and gritty material, such as sexual abuse and physical abuse, including gun violence.
What's the story?
LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER begins with Zach in a recovery facility, refusing to remember what brought him there -- \"I don't like remembering. Remembering makes me feel things. I don't like feeling things.\" With the help of his kind therapist and a much older roommate who becomes a father figure to the young alcoholic, Zach begins to unpack his past, which includes a depressed mother, an alcoholic father, and an angry, abusive older brother. It's a painful journey, though -- \"How could I have so many tears living there, in my body? How could they fit? when was it going to stop? When?\" Zach knows he will have to be brave to be able to remember, and admit, the terrible incident that brought him to Cabin 9.
Is it any good?
Readers will be quickly swept up in the poetic language of this novel. It convincingly captures the young alcoholic's feeling, including his belief that he is doomed ("I have it in my head that when we're born, God writes things down on our hearts. ... When it came to my turn, he wrote sad"). Zach's honest narration makes it is easy to empathize with the troubled teen and root for him as he struggles between wanting to remember and wanting to forget his horrible past. Though the book is easy to read, it is full of metaphors and mature material that makes it best suited for older teens. Adults will be equally captivated and moved by Zach's story and should consider reading it along with their kids.
Last Night I Sang to the Monster made 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list, compiled by the Young Adult Library Services, a division of teh American Library Association.
American Library Association.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about books with gritty material, such as addiction and abuse. Are there topics that are off limits to teen readers? Do books like this one scare readers -- or glamorize bad behaviors -- or do they help teach teens about the world and promote empathy?
Also, families can talk about the book's title. Zach spends most of the book terrified of the Monsters that haunt his nightmares. So, is singing to the Monster a good thing? Why do you think the author decided to use this as the title?
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