Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story
A poetic and insightful coming-of-age novel, DEVELOPING MINDS is centered on 24-year-old Luke Entelechy, an aspiring writer who sees his creative output suffer when he begins teaching at one of Miami's most challenging middle schools. As the year progresses, however, Luke begins to relate to the neglect and abuse his students suffer, and is faced with a "haunting" decision: continue to let his dark past destroy him, or rise above the struggle to realize his potential as an artist and a "real" human being.
Equal parts disturbing and humorous, DEVELOPING MINDS offers a brutally honest look at the American public school system and the extreme measures many teachers take to cope with working in it.
Inspired by his own travels, screenwriter and author LaPoma's narrative is raw and edgy, effectively anchored by two protagonists whose brio and "same sense of adventure" keep the story alive...Entertaining and authentic look at the troubled American educational system, courtesy of two men propelled by perseverance and adventuresome spirits. --Kirkus Reviews, Recommended ReviewThere are at least two competing ways of sizing up Jonathan LaPoma's very entertaining novel Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story, and both have merit.(1) It is a scathing comic novel about the failures of American urban education, sort of a M*A*S*H for Miami schoolteachers.(2) It is a Bildungsroman about the personal growth of a young man who happens to be a Miami schoolteacher for a year. --Patrick Murtha, Book 'em, Danno Readers will be gripped by the many dimensions the plot has to offer...The story is honest, authentic, entertaining and poignant, and the contrasting images of a young man trying to grow in his personal life and the failures of the Miami school system have been woven together well without sounding forced. --Mamta Madhaven, Readers' Favorite, 5-Star ReviewShould be required reading for anyone who is considering or has ever considered teaching as a career. . . most highly recommended. --Jack Magnus, Readers' Favorite, 5-Star ReviewPoignant, engaging. . . a frighteningly accurate depiction of inner-city schools . . . a full-bodied work of fiction that will ring true with both students and teachers and provide a point of hope in an industry that has become increasingly profit-minded and complex. --Red City ReviewDEVELOPING MINDS is a raunchy, yet captivating story of two best friends, one gay, one not, who decide to spend a year teaching in the dysfunctional Miami school district... Jonathan LaPoma is an extraordinary writer. --Stargazer Literary PrizesSometimes the meat of a title lies not in fire and flames, but in simmering passion. Such is the nature of the coming-of-age experience depicted in Developing Minds, which offers a multi-faceted exploration of growth, maturity, and eventual transformation on the parts of all involved. --Midwest Book ReviewThere is never a lack of style and all the words, carefully measured, enclose a meaning and a wink . . . The author delves into the intricacies of the human soul with padded outlines with rapid strokes, no less precise or less deep on a psychological level . . .—Kalyan Panja, BookticaI was quite impressed . . . The humor was quite well-done, I found myself laughing out loud . . . As a young adult myself, I find Luke’s personal life so relatable and realist. We learn how to get out of toxic relationships, to be able to move on and to recognize true friends or, simply, the friends that are not good for you anymore. The author puts it in a subtle and smart way . . . The character development was rightfully done . . . don’t miss it!— Trang Tran, BookidoteNot for the faint of heart, Developing Minds will either have you furiously flipping the pages or fearfully enrolling your kids in home school. — Will Hodge, Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up, NoiseTradeIncredibly artistic . . . The vast majority of college grads will relate with themes of alienation, addiction, and misguided hopes . . . Filled with drama and drugs, this novel is raw and endearing. It teeters on the edge of obscene, but really stays true to the life of an early 20-year old, amidst the drama and guise of self-discovery. Instead of idealizing public schools or idolizing functional drug addicts, it just lays out the truth. — San Francisco Book ReviewThis book is incredibly raw . . . about as far removed from ‘Dead Poets Society’ as you can get. — Gem L Thompson, The Book EatersDeveloping Minds deserves five stars as a gritty, character-driven, coming-of-age novel by a talented writer. . . This book is much more than a raw indictment of America’s school systems, of course. The protagonist is trying desperately to come to grips with his own demons — and not succeeding very well. His book project, like his proposed screenplay, is stillborn and his job as a teacher saps the creative energy from him at every turn, so the narrative often revolves around Luke’s inability to perform on many levels. . . A satisfying ending resolves many issues large and small, however. –Don Sloan of author Ingrid Hall’s Book Review BlogIn many ways, the novel was spiritual, as well as coming-of-age . . . plenty of action and adventure, as well as some poignant soul searching . . . Anyone who enjoys realistic fiction, with a gritty edge will enjoy this novel. The characters are extremely well written and believable, and the dialogue is perfect. Despite the serious matter, the book is also very humorous, visual and vibrant to read. –Chantelle Atkins, Underground Book Reviews Jonathan LaPoma is an award-winning, best-selling novelist, optioned screenwriter, songwriter, and poet from Buffalo, NY. In 2005, he received a BA in history and a secondary education credential from the State University of New York at Geneseo, and he traveled extensively throughout the United States and Mexico after graduating. These experiences have become the inspiration for much of his writing, which often explores themes of alienation and misery as human constructions that can be overcome through self-understanding and the acceptance of suffering. LaPoma has written three novels, eleven screenplays, and hundreds of songs and poems. His screenplays have won over 140 awards/honors at various international screenwriting competitions, and his black comedy script HARM FOR THE HOLIDAYS was optioned by Warren Zide along with Wexlfish Pictures (AMERICAN PIE, FINAL DESTINATION, THE BIG HIT). LaPoma's novel DEVELOPING MINDS: AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY is an Amazon Best Seller ("Satire" and "Urban Life" Kindle categories), and it won the 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes (Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction category) and won the bronze medal in the 2016 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President's Awards (Adult eBook category). His novel UNDERSTANDING THE ALACRÁN won the silver medal in the 2017 FAPA President's Awards (Contemporary/Literary category). He lives in San Diego and teaches at a public secondary school.
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