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Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Last Night I Sang to the Monster is a book written by Benjamin Alire Saenz and was published in English, on September 1st, 2009 by the Cinco Puntos Press, comprising 304 pages. The book is centered on an eighteen-year-old young man by the name of Zach who is in a rehabilitation center, totally lost in his memory. The book is told in the first person so that it is Zach who is the author’s mouthpiece. The author’s main point in this story is that cases bordering on misbehavior and juvenile delinquency are always indicators of deeper underlying problems such as domestic violence, personality, and identity crisis, and/ or abuse.

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The story in the book has it that the main character Zach is spending the senior year of his high school in rehabilitation. This comes as a culmination of alcohol poisoning which had him sprawled on the roadside one night. Coming about, he is totally bereft of any memory and is not at all interested in having the recollection. At some point, Zach is worried about the genesis of his problems, his monster. The feelings Zach has towards God are well touched on. The fulfilling friendship he has with Rafael his roommate who is his father’s contemporary is well deliberated upon, though he had already shared the room with others as well.

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The rehabilitation center is graced with people of different ages, problems, and both sexes. These problems are also known as personal monsters and are metaphorically mentioned as being the ugliest and/ or scariest, defying imagination. Since it is not guaranteed that all patients will make it, they are allowed to leave at their discretion, given that technically, they are adults. The audience is therefore left contemplating pulling through, given that, unlike others, he is totally bereft of memory: he cannot even remember how he got to the rehabilitation center in the first place.

Analyzing the Book Using Psychoanalytical Theory

From a psychoanalytic point of view, the book presents cogent arguments on the reality of child development and crisis. When in suffering, an individual is likely to be bitter, with himself, his peers, friends, and even parents, and this includes children, as exemplified by Zach. To Zach, saying that he does not like God because He likes him neither is the crudest manifestation of this bitterness. In the psychology of Zach, it is God who has all the prerogatives to show him goodness and peace, but He unrelentingly brings things Zach’s path; things that would only inculcate sadness in Zach’s life and heart.

Zach’s deep wisdom is also conspicuous in the story. Deeper psychoanalysis lets the reader know that despite his descent into disorderliness, Zach is still mentally able to discern those that are good to him and those inimical towards him. It is this cognitive skill that compels Zach to endure the absence of a homeless and loveless house and to embrace the friendship of Rafael. Zach is still psychologically stable enough to sift through the age difference to see a true friend in Rafael (Coats, 2009, 34).

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