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-"Entertaining and authentic." —Kirkus Reviews, Recommended Review -Winner of 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes (Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction category) -Bronze medal winner of 2016 FAPA President's Awards (Adult eBook category) Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions -"Entertaining and authentic." —Kirkus Reviews, Recommended Review -Winner of 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes (Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction category) -Bronze medal winner of 2016 FAPA President's Awards (Adult eBook category) Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions as they try to survive a year of teaching at two dysfunctional Miami public schools. 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. *Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story is the fourth book in a loosely-linked series, with Hammond, The Summer of Crud, and Understanding the Alacrán as books one-three, and The Soul City Salvation as book five. Each novel can be read independently of the others.


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-"Entertaining and authentic." —Kirkus Reviews, Recommended Review -Winner of 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes (Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction category) -Bronze medal winner of 2016 FAPA President's Awards (Adult eBook category) Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions -"Entertaining and authentic." —Kirkus Reviews, Recommended Review -Winner of 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes (Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction category) -Bronze medal winner of 2016 FAPA President's Awards (Adult eBook category) Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions as they try to survive a year of teaching at two dysfunctional Miami public schools. 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. *Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story is the fourth book in a loosely-linked series, with Hammond, The Summer of Crud, and Understanding the Alacrán as books one-three, and The Soul City Salvation as book five. Each novel can be read independently of the others.

30 review for Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pearl Angeli

    3.5 Stars At first I really thought this book has something to do with ghosts and scary stuffs, but there weren't any. The attached "ghost story" in the title is purely metaphor. Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story is actually a coming-of-age contemporary story that presents college graduate Luke Entelechy who came to Miami with his friend Billy to dive into the world of teaching. Despite his reluctance to the profession, and despite the fact that he originally wanted to be a writer, he acc 3.5 Stars At first I really thought this book has something to do with ghosts and scary stuffs, but there weren't any. The attached "ghost story" in the title is purely metaphor. Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story is actually a coming-of-age contemporary story that presents college graduate Luke Entelechy who came to Miami with his friend Billy to dive into the world of teaching. Despite his reluctance to the profession, and despite the fact that he originally wanted to be a writer, he accepted the challenge of education because that's the only way to compensate his financial needs. Applying for a teaching job in Miami was a tough one because Luke wasn't able to land a job so easily and he even ended up being hired by an admin from an F-rated school. What's even tougher was the fact that kids with all types of personalities were attending there. This book basically depicts the reality of educational and school system, its strengths and its flaws and most of all, the struggle the educators are facing behind the black boards and classroom doors. Being a teacher is indeed a tough job, more so when you're assigned to a school where there's an unhealthy environment and where most kids don't learn the art of respect. Through this book I was able to visualize the educational system in Miami and became aware that not all schools are really outstanding and perfect. Racism, drugs, and sex are also few of the subjects matters that were being explored here and for that, I admired the author because these things scream reality. Luke's personal battle against his decisions were also significantly defined here. In my opinion, he did some good decisions but there were also bad ones, including the decision he made in the end. For me, it was a bit of a cowardly move because there wasn't any resolve that I found. What happened to the kids he taught in Miami? Was he able to make a difference in their lives? That was what I've been longing to see but sad to say, it didn't happen. "School was claiming my absolute best. Every day was a struggle to stop the panic from taking over. Every day was a fight to stay at the head of that classroom without the kids realizing the utter terror I felt facing them day in and day out." As for the author's writing, I loved it. Jonathan LaPoma has a spot-on writing style and he tags along humor with it. I was laughing my ass out at some point because Luke and Billy's interactions were really witty and hilarious! If you are a teacher or someone that is related to education or even a student, I know you will very much appreciate the message behind the story of this book. I, myself, felt awed while reading this. (A copy of this book was sent by the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Archit

    “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” Luke Entelechy and Billy Lalina are trying their luck in career in Miami as teachers. Their work becomes demanding and that's when the story begins. This book, for me, was an honest and heart-wrenching reality presentation of what happens in American schools. The background story was informative yet heart-breaking to know. Developing Minds is a book that arrested my attention since the sta “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” Luke Entelechy and Billy Lalina are trying their luck in career in Miami as teachers. Their work becomes demanding and that's when the story begins. This book, for me, was an honest and heart-wrenching reality presentation of what happens in American schools. The background story was informative yet heart-breaking to know. Developing Minds is a book that arrested my attention since the start. I was shocked and bewildered to watch what goes on in the public schools. The reality hit me hard. I congratulate the author for picking up this matter and deciding to convey the message to his readers. My Mom is a teacher and the kids she come across are sometimes great and sometimes they need to learn more. I know how difficult it can become for a teacher. The responsibilities they have on their shoulders is far ominous than one can believe. So when Luke was having a hard time as a teacher, I understood and related to it completely. Only a few books in the world have the power to do so. The characters are well-developed and entertaining. They both are struggling with their own problems and in order to solve it, they lose many times. Drugs, sex, racism - a few things that we also come across in this one. Enlightening and engaging - Developing Minds is one of the best books I've read so far. I recommend it to you on the top of my lungs. This book should be preserved for ages. Teachers and students would appreciate this brilliant work more. Verdict : All in all, Developing Minds is a powerful and poignant story that everyone should read at least once. P.S. It is not at all a Ghost Story. The word ghost is used only as a metaphor.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aditi

    “They inspire you, they entertain you, and you end up learning a ton even when you don't know it” ----Nicholas Sparks Jonathan LaPoma, an award winning American author, has penned an heart-wrenching and a thoroughly enlightening story about two teachers in his book, Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story that unfolds the story of two twenty-something men trying their luck in the department of teaching in Miami but their journey to educate young minds turns out to be extremely challenging as “They inspire you, they entertain you, and you end up learning a ton even when you don't know it” ----Nicholas Sparks Jonathan LaPoma, an award winning American author, has penned an heart-wrenching and a thoroughly enlightening story about two teachers in his book, Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story that unfolds the story of two twenty-something men trying their luck in the department of teaching in Miami but their journey to educate young minds turns out to be extremely challenging as sex, drugs and alcohol become their escape. But why would two teachers want to escape the world of teaching and education? What is the challenge that is making them stay back? Synopsis: Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions as they try to survive a year of teaching at two dysfunctional Miami public schools. 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. Luke Entelechy escapes to Miami after working as substitute teacher for a long time in Buffalo, and now along with his best buddy, Billy Lalina, he has arrived in Miami to make his life better. Billy too escapes his job of teaching from a New York public school. Soon both the men bags teaching jobs in two public schools in Miami. Unfortunately, for Luke, his teaching job turns out to be highly challenging as he has to teach a group of ill-disciplined kids in an equally disoriented public school. And everyday seems like a struggle for Luke who soon becomes a subject of insulting object. So what happens behind the blackboard and how Luke manages to win the confidence of such a group of wild kids is for you to find out. PS: I repeat this is not any kind of ghost story, the word, "ghost" has been used just as an analogy to depict the horrifying conditions of the American public schools. This book has already won tons of literary awards and it might win many more in the future. So let's take a moment to give this author a standing ovation to appreciate his genuine effort to represent the raw and honest reality of the American public schools through two teachers' voices. Thanks to Goodreads for making me aware of such an excellent masterpiece and after reading the synopsis, I felt myself extremely arrested towards it and could not wait to get my hands on this amazing novel. These days it is so difficult to find good books, by good books, I mean the ones which can really enlighten a human mind, and especially skilled authors and I feel myself lucky and honored to read this excellent creation by an equally fascinating author. Okay, I know, I won't stop ranting about this book for quite a while it seems! So please bear with my review!! The author's writing style is extremely exquisite and emphatic. The narrative has a raw edge to it and its authenticity will hook the readers immediately from the very first page. The prose is eloquent and with such a swift and smooth pace, the readers are bound to feel like swaying along with the flow of the story. The climax is bit unnerving and might not feel like it is justifying the story, but the author has presented a true approach to the protagonist's actions and decisions. The author has vividly captured the lives of teachers teaching in public schools and the honest reality might shock a lot of readers. Teaching job is not an easy one or relaxing one, instead it demands them to stay sharp and in sync with the changing trends in education sector, not only that it also demands them to have PATIENCE to handle kids of any category or with any characteristic. The teachers lives' are pathetic and sad and similarly, Luke takes other means to survive this hard life. He even falls for a woman and tries to maintain a long distance relationship. On other hand, Billy, too struggles with his homosexuality in the world of teachers and among students thus adapting other means to stay on the line. The teachers can give their life to educate and discipline a mind by winning the students' trust, which is obviously a long and challenging struggle to achieve that. The teachers of America must grab this book to agree with the voices of these two fictional teachers who struggle with the American education system. The characters both the protagonist and his supporting character are extremely well-etched out from real-life characters. Luke is a brave and strong character and his flawed yet genuine demeanor makes him an extremely likable protagonist and the readers can easily feel a connection towards him. Equally Billy too will warm up to the readers' hearts amidst his constant swearing narrative. The other supporting characters are also very well-developed, and can easily keep the readers interested with their presence. In a nutshell, this enticing, entertaining yet heart-touching story is a must read for one and all. Verdict: This is the kind of book that need to put up on your bookshelf and to be proud of it. Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Jonathan LaPoma, for giving me the opportunity to read and review his book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    **I don't assign star ratings to books I don't finish.*** Luke Entelechy, a young man fresh off an adventure in Mexico and burning with the desire to write, takes his first full-time teaching job at a poorly rated middle school in Miami to support himself while he hangs out at the beach and writes. He convinces his gay friend Billy to come with him for the job interview, and Billy lands a job too. And thus begins their year of being roommates and working in one of the most notoriously bad public **I don't assign star ratings to books I don't finish.*** Luke Entelechy, a young man fresh off an adventure in Mexico and burning with the desire to write, takes his first full-time teaching job at a poorly rated middle school in Miami to support himself while he hangs out at the beach and writes. He convinces his gay friend Billy to come with him for the job interview, and Billy lands a job too. And thus begins their year of being roommates and working in one of the most notoriously bad public school systems in the U.S. I read the first chapter and was rolling my eyes so often at the overuse of literal cliches that I had no idea how I was going to make it 50 pages in this book. It did get better - once the school year starts, the story really settles into a rhythm - but the characters seemed unnatural to me as far as I read. I skimmed through some of the future chapters and read the ending, but nothing I saw compelled me to go back to where I stopped and keep going. I am a former teacher who now works in adult education, and I usually find stories about schools - particularly satire about schools - to be compelling, but this just didn't do it for me on any level.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Trang Tran (Bookidote)

    It's actually a 4.5! WOW! I loved this book! First, let's clear things up, this Stargaze Literary Prize Finalist is not a paranormal story. There's no “physical” ghost involved. I should say that the ghost in the title is a metaphor for all the things we cannot see, for what's behind the curtains, hidden. The dialogues are funny ( really nice hitback lines too haha) , wise and a lot of them make you think about your own life . I can relate to a lot of quotes in there and I was impressed with the It's actually a 4.5! WOW! I loved this book! First, let's clear things up, this Stargaze Literary Prize Finalist is not a paranormal story. There's no “physical” ghost involved. I should say that the ghost in the title is a metaphor for all the things we cannot see, for what's behind the curtains, hidden. The dialogues are funny ( really nice hitback lines too haha) , wise and a lot of them make you think about your own life . I can relate to a lot of quotes in there and I was impressed with the storyline. really coherent, realist and well keeping together. We can follow his journey in school and his personal life, the influence of these two aspets together. I totally recommend this to anyone. It's a light read but a really really fun roller coaster if you want to change your mind and just enjoy a good book.The story is about Luke, and his new South Urban life as a new teacher at the George Washington middle school, an “F school” average in Miami. This novel follows his journey through frustrations, stresses, friendships, relationships and all the challenges that a teacher can encounter.If you want to know about the education system and how tough and challenging is to teach in a middle school , this is worth the try! You can view my whole review here with my favourite quotes included on my blog : https://bookidote.wordpress.com/2015/...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Don Sloan

    In Developing Minds, Jonathan LaPoma details the sordid, real-life underbelly of the American urban education system today. And it's a picture straight off Picasso's Cubism palette -- all jagged edges and outsized caricatures that are, unfortunately, reality for U.S. classroom teachers today. Luke Entelechy has just arrived in Miami with his friend Billy on a whim. They have both suddenly decided that teaching in New York was not the right fit for them, so they have motored on down to the south o In Developing Minds, Jonathan LaPoma details the sordid, real-life underbelly of the American urban education system today. And it's a picture straight off Picasso's Cubism palette -- all jagged edges and outsized caricatures that are, unfortunately, reality for U.S. classroom teachers today. Luke Entelechy has just arrived in Miami with his friend Billy on a whim. They have both suddenly decided that teaching in New York was not the right fit for them, so they have motored on down to the south of Florida seeking a fresh start. What Entelechy gets instead is a brisk slap in the face and a swift kick in the ass at the hands of the unforgiving students at George Washington Middle School. The only thing they seem to have a lower esteem of than themselves is the unfortunate Mr. Entelechy, who struggles period after period just to impart some basic knowledge of U.S. history. What he does instead all day is referee classroom fistfights and endure endless profanity and disrespect. "Chante got up and stormed over to (Frantz), pushing desks aside on her way. She threw a punch and Frantz dodged it. Then he grabbed a handful of her hair and wouldn't let go. I ran out into the hall and looked for the security guards. I saw them standing at the end of the hall, crowded around one of the more attractive and well-endowed eighth grade girls. They were smiling like a group of old perverts." This is the story of how Luke fights back, bucking the overwhelming odds and the stifling pressure of the "teach-to-standardized-testing" mentality that is currently handcuffing beleaguered teachers nationwide. There's plenty of action outside school walls here, too. Luke and his friend Billy party up and down South Beach most nights along with an ensemble cast of memorable characters. One is a fellow teacher who gives Luke some sage advice: 'You can't argue with these kids. They're pros at roping people in. They're going to test you in every way possible, and you just gotta show them you won't take their shit." 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. I won't spoil it, but suffice to say that Luke finally achieves equilibrium in his imperfect world and vows to start the new school year fresh with an enlightened attitude. Developing Minds deserves five stars as a gritty, character-driven, coming-of-age novel by a talented writer.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pooja

    Teaching can be an experience of a life-time, if you do it right. Else, when things go horribly wrong, you start counting your options and going back and forth with the decisions that led you here. For Luke and Billy, the options aren't many. Giving up on his dreams to become a writer, Luke has joined Miami middle school in dire need to support himself financially. The protagonist finds himself in a state of dilemma as the place starts to haunt his creative self. He begins to see the loopholes i Teaching can be an experience of a life-time, if you do it right. Else, when things go horribly wrong, you start counting your options and going back and forth with the decisions that led you here. For Luke and Billy, the options aren't many. Giving up on his dreams to become a writer, Luke has joined Miami middle school in dire need to support himself financially. The protagonist finds himself in a state of dilemma as the place starts to haunt his creative self. He begins to see the loopholes in the education system. The flaws presenting themselves very prominently before him. The students come from a varied background and their future depends upon how much the teachers can cope up. I could see that the writer chooses his genre really impressively. The issues dealt in this book aren't very common in literary field, making this work unique and informative. Also, this book isn't really about ghost stories but real life issues. Coming from a teaching background, I enjoyed the plot and seeing the characters struggle, created sympathy, humor and interest.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bobby

    Developing Minds is a wildly entertaining book that gives a raw, unveiled perspective on contemporary inner-city education from the viewpoint of an appropriately troubled young man entering emerging adulthood. 24 year old Luke Entelechy's story is rife with curse words and raucous personal situations in which no explicit detail is spared. This authentic voice covers the span of coming-of-age tribulations while grappling with the greater institutional darkness of public education. The language, es Developing Minds is a wildly entertaining book that gives a raw, unveiled perspective on contemporary inner-city education from the viewpoint of an appropriately troubled young man entering emerging adulthood. 24 year old Luke Entelechy's story is rife with curse words and raucous personal situations in which no explicit detail is spared. This authentic voice covers the span of coming-of-age tribulations while grappling with the greater institutional darkness of public education. The language, especially the dialogue, is one of the biggest strengths of the book. While the prose can be rather raw at times, its use constructively adds depth and a sense of honesty that couldn't quite be achieved by omitting such language. The dialogue is often hilarious to the point where it's hard to stop laughing and regroup to focus on the words ahead. Luke has a characteristic sharp wit that he often combines with borderline, and sometimes full-blown sophomoric humor that makes for funny, seldom-comfortable situations. This uncompromising dedication to the vocabulary and thematic content of a 24 year old American male is what distinguishes this book from most other works that I've read, and makes Developing Minds a book worth reading. The alcohol/drug use and sexual experiences described in the story are raunchy and graphic - exactly what one would expect from a group of young adults living in a city that is almost synonymous with sex and drugs. Sure, maybe teachers shouldn't be using drugs and partying like maniacs as often as some of the characters do, but this isn't entirely inconsistent with the behavior of contemporary young adults. Also, I found that the extent to which the sexual encounters were described actually contributed to the overall authenticity of the book. Perhaps this energetic, yet soulless reality that Luke, Billy, and co. share is part of what makes this a "ghost story." The dominating theme of the teaching aspect of the story is the classic futility of the American public education system that has been depicted in countless media over the last few decades (season 4 of The Wire comes to mind). Luke doesn't fancy himself a savior of underprivileged kids; his story simply serves to characterize his experience in this system as he grows to understand the educational complex. The most powerful aspect of this story is that it offers a perspective on institutional racism from a young man who seemingly has never had exposure to this phenomenon. Sure, there are obvious, hateful racists who work in the school who exhibit the classic aggressive signs associated with what many white people in modern America deem as racism, but I feel that a large portion of the content of this story (which was likely written before institutional racism became a household term) helps to illustrate what many young people of color have to overcome to even have a shot at achieving a life that isn't a struggle, let alone anything resembling the fabled American Dream. To be clear, this is not meant to be a textbook to instruct teachers who may find themselves in a similar situation, however, those involved in education may be able to appreciate the unflinchingly realistic storyline. Developing Minds is not a story for the faint of heart, but its consistently honest content creates a reality that's hard to find in print, and touches on some painfully real themes that need more attention in an increasingly divided not-so post-racial society.

  9. 4 out of 5

    The Book Eaters

    This review, and many other reviews and features, can be found at www.thebookeaters.co.uk Luke Entelechy and his best friend Billy are recent graduates trying to write a book together, but life keeps getting in the way. So they decide to head to Miami almost on a whim and take teaching jobs hoping that the routine and the decent holidays will give them time to focus on writing. One of them starts working in an A rated school, the other in a school on the edge of failing but both are beset with pro This review, and many other reviews and features, can be found at www.thebookeaters.co.uk Luke Entelechy and his best friend Billy are recent graduates trying to write a book together, but life keeps getting in the way. So they decide to head to Miami almost on a whim and take teaching jobs hoping that the routine and the decent holidays will give them time to focus on writing. One of them starts working in an A rated school, the other in a school on the edge of failing but both are beset with problems. Billy is constantly worried that his school principal will find out he’s gay and find a way to terminate his contract. It wouldn’t be hard to find a way as Billy is spending most of his time partying with a driven female teacher from Luke’s school. She’s the kind of woman that works hard and plays hard and soon the pair are struggling with their excessive lifestyle. Luke faces different problems, being a white teacher in a school full of people of colour exposes him to both obvious and systemic racism on a daily basis. It also forces him to confront his lack of understanding of his own privilege and the harsh realities these kids face on a daily basis. This book is incredibly raw. It’s about as far removed from ‘Dead Poets Society’ as you can get. To be honest it’s more brutal than ‘Dangerous Minds’. The main difference being the teachers, as they are both so young they are busy sowing their wild oats and making all the mistakes people in their 20’s make. Even amongst the older teachers they mix with there is a fair smattering of disillusion and pettiness. This isn’t a cosy book, the language is very strong, so it won’t be for everyone. But it is a pretty substantial meal, like chewing through a pile of really spicy chicken wings left over from a take-away a few days ago. 4 bites

  10. 5 out of 5

    Yari Tabares Villafuerte

    The first thing that I noticed was that this novel was different from many that I’ve read. It was honest, raw, and just plain uncensored. A few people have stated that the novel is too graphic which i don’t agree with. One might not think that teachers do drugs and have sex, but guess what? They’re human too and as such are submitted to temptations. The novel also provided a deeper understanding of how different people cope with stress. It was about time an author made educators more human and The first thing that I noticed was that this novel was different from many that I’ve read. It was honest, raw, and just plain uncensored. A few people have stated that the novel is too graphic which i don’t agree with. One might not think that teachers do drugs and have sex, but guess what? They’re human too and as such are submitted to temptations. The novel also provided a deeper understanding of how different people cope with stress. It was about time an author made educators more human and realistic without going overboard! What caught my attention the most was that i felt like i could relate to the characters, the turmoil of letting go of a relationship that is weighing you down and getting away from those you know aren’t good for you. I couldn’t put the book down because the characters were intriguing; i wanted to know more about them. The complexity of the character development occurred over a number of pages so it was easier to digest and it wasn’t just thrown at me at the beginning. I enjoyed that the characters were present and being developed throughout the novel. I knew who the characters were without having to flip back to the very beginning of the novel to remember. I was rooting for Luke the entire time and I’m glad he decided to pursue what was best for him. I think college grads will relate best to this novel, it was written for a younger open minded audience.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Grady

    ‘Together we were going to design America’s revolution.’ California author Jonathan LaPoma not only writes novels (two to date) but also screenplays, poetry and songs! He earned his BA in history and a secondary education credential from the State University of New York at Geneseo, gathered ideas or seeds for future novels from his travels both the US and Mexico, began writing and winning awards for his works, and now teaches secondary school in San Diego. The handsome young artist explores theme ‘Together we were going to design America’s revolution.’ California author Jonathan LaPoma not only writes novels (two to date) but also screenplays, poetry and songs! He earned his BA in history and a secondary education credential from the State University of New York at Geneseo, gathered ideas or seeds for future novels from his travels both the US and Mexico, began writing and winning awards for his works, and now teaches secondary school in San Diego. The handsome young artist explores themes of alienation and misery as human constructions that can be overcome through self-understanding and the acceptance of suffering. Jonathan places his story in Miami, opening the Miami school system with candor, insight, humor that is at times scathing, and in addition he creates characters who represent many of the personality traits of human relationships that other authors attempt but fail to access as well as Jonathan. His main characters are best friends - one gay, one straight and how they use their experiences as teachers and observers of the coming of age status of their students to reflect on their own ‘ghosts’. To borrow a bit from the book’s plot synopsis, ‘DEVELOPING MINDS follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions as they try to survive a year of teaching at two dysfunctional Miami public schools. 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.’ That is a fine summary, but what it does not allow is to feel the beauty of Jonathan’s writing style and the infectious manner in which he pulls us into this ‘ghost story’. Conversations are raw, turgid, and right on the money, and just when the reader feels this is all comedy, Jonathan waxes poetic – and the change is seamless. This is brilliant writing from a very promising new author. He is one to watch.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Beyers

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was like reading two books instead of one. One of them I liked, the other I didn't much care for. As an educator I could relate to the teaching part. The Miami school is every teacher's worst nightmare, but the author's description of the brave teachers and the troubled students struck a cord with me. It shows once again what a big place schools and teacher's play in ordinary lives and that in spite of all the struggles, kids and teachers manage to find a way to get through the difficult da This was like reading two books instead of one. One of them I liked, the other I didn't much care for. As an educator I could relate to the teaching part. The Miami school is every teacher's worst nightmare, but the author's description of the brave teachers and the troubled students struck a cord with me. It shows once again what a big place schools and teacher's play in ordinary lives and that in spite of all the struggles, kids and teachers manage to find a way to get through the difficult days often even with dignity and a sense of humor. Nicely done. The whole drugs and adolescent angst part, on the other hand, was not my thing. Boy, am I glad I don't know many people like that. The story of his addiction and self-gratification just kept going round in circles and ended in the way I could have predicted; with another selfish individual ditching the kids who could have done with some more help. Just when Luke had redeemed himself a little in my eyes and had become a little less of an idiot, he loses all his credibility by setting off into the sunset. Realistic enough, just not very hope giving. What hope is there for kids if nobody is prepared to make them a priority. But then maybe selfishness is the younger generation's prerogative and I am just too old for this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bzzzyqueen

    What I enjoyed most about this novel was its realism. This is not your typical teaching story that ends with a generic happy ending (think "Dangerous Minds," "Freedom Writers Diary," or "Good Will Hunting".) The main character in the novel is likable and I felt empathy for him; I definitely wanted some miracle to happen by the end of the novel to transform his journey as a teacher. Rather, the internal changes and growth he personally experiences is the focus at the end of the novel- not fixing a What I enjoyed most about this novel was its realism. This is not your typical teaching story that ends with a generic happy ending (think "Dangerous Minds," "Freedom Writers Diary," or "Good Will Hunting".) The main character in the novel is likable and I felt empathy for him; I definitely wanted some miracle to happen by the end of the novel to transform his journey as a teacher. Rather, the internal changes and growth he personally experiences is the focus at the end of the novel- not fixing a failing school system. As a teacher, I find this extremely realistic and relatable. This novel gives great insight into the flawed school system we have in many cities across the nation- as well as an inkling of what teachers endure as the "first responders" in the classroom. The author genuinely depicts the intense range of feelings any teacher would feel in the given situation- extreme stress, fear, helplessness, worry, hatred, love, and often, apathy. I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in the real truth behind teaching.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Underground Book Reviews

    Developing Minds follows the journey of graduate teacher Luke and his friends, as they struggle through their first year of teaching. I found the start to be a little on the slow side, as I waited to find out if I was going to like or empathize with these characters. However, once Luke and his friend Billy set up home in a rough area of Miami, the drama began to unfold very quickly. The story is told from Luke’s point of view, as he struggles to survive as a teacher in an extremely violent and d Developing Minds follows the journey of graduate teacher Luke and his friends, as they struggle through their first year of teaching. I found the start to be a little on the slow side, as I waited to find out if I was going to like or empathize with these characters. However, once Luke and his friend Billy set up home in a rough area of Miami, the drama began to unfold very quickly. The story is told from Luke’s point of view, as he struggles to survive as a teacher in an extremely violent and difficult school, where he discovers the teachers are often as dysfunctional as the students. At this point I felt for him more and more, as he forces himself back there, day after day. I certainly began to admire him. Added to the hell he faces in school every day, Luke deals with constant turmoil at home due to the wild antics of Billy and their teacher friend Margo (a character I liked and loathed in equal measures). ...read the rest of this review at UndergroundBookReviews(dot)org!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Desirae Brown

    Well I did enjoy this book, however, I was expecting a ghost story but I did not get one. But Later on the title does make more sense to me. This book helped shine a light on how challenging it is to work in the public school system, which I really must say I had no idea was that bad. I got a "Freedom Writers" vibe from it, but not so much considering the characters in the novel were always drunk or high. It took me a couple pages to really get into it, but once things started to pick up I could Well I did enjoy this book, however, I was expecting a ghost story but I did not get one. But Later on the title does make more sense to me. This book helped shine a light on how challenging it is to work in the public school system, which I really must say I had no idea was that bad. I got a "Freedom Writers" vibe from it, but not so much considering the characters in the novel were always drunk or high. It took me a couple pages to really get into it, but once things started to pick up I could not put it down!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Murtha

    There 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. Complicating matters is that subtitle, to which only a handful of passages in the actual text directly There 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. Complicating matters is that subtitle, to which only a handful of passages in the actual text directly or obviously relate. Who or what are the ghosts here? If we go with interpretation (2), it helps explain the bagginess of the novel. If it was being edited as a novel with a purer school focus, a lot of episodes would go. Our 24-year-old protagonist, Luke Entelechy, is a refugee from the Arctic chill of Buffalo, New York, who, despite his ambivalence about the teaching career he has apparently trained for, decides to pursue a job in the Miami, Florida, public school system (which, about ten years ago, was always recruiting, along with every other school system in Florida. That has pretty much ground to a halt). He persuades his buddy Billy, who has been teaching in the New York City system and who has recently come out of the closet, to join him on this adventure, but this has the drawback that Billy is way more ambivalent about the whole thing than Luke, even, and remains so throughout the novel. Luke narrates, and LaPoma doesn't quite avoid the pitfall that many a first-person novel stumbles into, which is that Luke depicts himself as slightly superior to everyone else. Just slightly, mind, but in a way that could be more annoying than mere braggadocio. We quickly learn that he is better-looking than the people around him, a better teacher than most, way less messed-up than Billy and his new Miami friends (which wouldn't be hard), etc. At the recruitment fair they attend, Billy winds up getting a job at a pretty decent elementary school; Luke walks into a pit, a low-performing middle school (and middle schools tend to be excruciating to begin with). Of course, just how bad a pit it is provides the substance of a chunk of the novel, although after the first half, the point having been made, the story drifts more into the area of Luke's personal life and extracurricular debaucheries, which grow increasingly frenzied. Here is where an editor looking for the school focus might have started cutting; on the other hand, the crazed M*A*S*H-like episodes do develop a rhythm of their own. (I'm less sure about the side chapters about Luke's Mexican girlfriend and an older Lebanese woman from Buffalo that he gets to consummate his crush on.) Part of what makes Developing Minds entertaining, but potentially controversial too, is that it is gleefully politically incorrect from the get-go, and grows more and more raunchy as it goes along. Copious amounts of drugs and alcohol are consumed, off-color and quasi-racist talk abounds, and then when Luke and Co. fall in with a couple of players, a telenovela actor and his bodybuilding friend, the sexual action gets explicit and even somewhat nasty. Some readers are going to be put off by the book veering into these extremities. I didn't mind, but although I'm a teacher myself and have worked under some stressful conditions, and am not entirely unacquainted with partying, I couldn't see myself hanging out with Luke and his friends. The reasons boil down to one, really. It is very striking that the conversations of the young teachers (and the older ones too, for that matter) are almost entirely lacking in intellectual, cultural, and political substance - even pop-cultural substance. That wouldn't cut it for me in real life. When one of the older teachers (significantly called "the Professor" because he moonlights as a college adjunct) drops a mention of the great jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, that was the only glimmer of the kind of conversation I've had with fellow teachers my entire career. Maybe there is a bit of troubling social revelation here. Although I don't recall any references to reality television in the book, Luke and friends certainly carry on just exactly as they might have learned to do from watching too much of The Real World and similar shows. They enact cultural scripts that are supposed to be typical of twentysomethings, especially in a hedonistic semi-tropical milieu such as Miami. This could be taken as depressing. Luke's school life is depressing too, of course, as well as disturbingly funny, and the descriptions of it seem pretty spot-on to me. Luke is an empathetic guy, and eventually makes some nice connections with his students - but none of it leads to actual content being learned. Most urban teaching isn't teaching; it's a species of social work. And teachers are not trained as social workers. I discovered early in my career that I simply don't like teaching under "challenging" conditions. You spend mostly every entire class period trying to get to the Square One from which you could begin teaching. Occasionally the students let you arrive there, but, I always noticed, only as the period was coming to an end. And it's not as if you then start on Square One the next day; you have to go through the whole rigmarole again. Unwilling urban students are virtuosi at wasting time, and LaPoma captures that to a tee, although I think he intends for us to take some hope from the scattered warm moments. I don't, having been there. As for the "ghost" of the subtitle - my favored take is that we're talking the ghost of the education process, because in Luke's middle school, that's all you're going to find. Although Developing Minds is all over the map, I found it thoroughly absorbing, and it definitely gives one a lot to think about.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ashlynn

    Disclaimers: The synopsis section is ©Goodreads but the rest of the reviews are completely my words and of course the quote section is obviously from the book reviewed. 4.5⭐ Highly recommend... Also on my Blog Tomorrow @ 6am... “We stood like man and woman on the opposite sides of a wall built by the hatred of those warring men who'd long ago died, but whose legacy of terror still reigned.” Disclaimers: I received an ARC of this from the author in return for an honest review. MINOR unmarke Disclaimers: The synopsis section is ©Goodreads but the rest of the reviews are completely my words and of course the quote section is obviously from the book reviewed. 4.5⭐ Highly recommend... Also on my Blog Tomorrow @ 6am... “We stood like man and woman on the opposite sides of a wall built by the hatred of those warring men who'd long ago died, but whose legacy of terror still reigned.” Disclaimers: I received an ARC of this from the author in return for an honest review. MINOR unmarked spoilers ahead. Nothing to spoil the plot though Synopsis: Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions as they try to survive a year of teaching at two dysfunctional Miami public schools. 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. Characters: Luke- He was very insightful and as a new teacher handled his classroom well, considering the circumstances. Outside of school, he's still a brave intellectual man. He relates to his students and his friends on emotional levels. Billy- His character frustrated the eff out of me a lot. Granted, I think he was smart and knew how to make good life decisions. With that being said...he refused to do so. One second he's "oh my god I'm done doing blah" and the next he's doing exactly what he said he was done with. His poor choices lead me to dislike him. On to the next part; He's gay. Proudly too, so I mean *cheers to you* I don't mind, flaunt that ish, and he did, definitely did just outside of school. So he was admirable for that because he seemed comfortable in his own skin and that's a great quality to have. (ALSO, his poor car!!!!) Margo, aka Liberty- That woman is nuts, like down to the ground off her rocker. She's hysterical which is the only thing that makes me like her. She brings Billy into drama and bs but she knows how to be fun. Wolo- I think it's interesting how every day at lunch, Wolo is lighting incense. It just cracks me up. He was always a decent friend to Luke, he told him straight up what he thought and was always real. Comical for sure. I would have loved to see him lose it in person though, man! The character development was out of this world impressive. You really gained knowledge into their lives and connected to the MC's. Even the smaller characters had massive personalities. The way LaPoma showed each as a person and created them into something unimaginable was its own kind of art. Overall Opinion: I absolutely loved it. The cover is beautiful, I was so excited when I first opened it! The sweet, sweet paradise. Every direction his characters go, the author paints the locations perfectly. Key West was breathtaking in itself. Every ounce of description and detail is perfect. He never overdoes it which can be easy to do. The kids act out but tend to be hilarious. LaPoma portrays humor gracefully, it is genuinely funny and doesn't seem forced whatsoever. Thank you so very much Jonathan LaPoma for sending me a copy of this and for welcoming me in the trip to Paradise. It surely was an experience and I enjoyed it greatly. I plan on following up on any future published books, I'd love to read them. Now for my followers, you guys should definitely check out LaPoma's novels: Understanding the Alacran and Developing Minds An American Ghost Story. They are well worth reading! Short Girl Out, Signed; -Ash

  18. 4 out of 5

    Reader Views

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. DEVELOPING MINDS: AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY Jonathan LaPoma Laughing Fire Press (2015) ISBN 9780967492292 Reviewed by Kristine Hall for Reader Views (01/16) In “Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story,” author Jonathan LaPoma takes readers into the life of twenty-four-year- old Luke Entelechy as he takes his first full time teaching job at an F-rated school in Miami. The job is full of challenges, none of which are made easier by Luke’s personal issues and motivations -- he takes the job mostly for t DEVELOPING MINDS: AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY Jonathan LaPoma Laughing Fire Press (2015) ISBN 9780967492292 Reviewed by Kristine Hall for Reader Views (01/16) In “Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story,” author Jonathan LaPoma takes readers into the life of twenty-four-year- old Luke Entelechy as he takes his first full time teaching job at an F-rated school in Miami. The job is full of challenges, none of which are made easier by Luke’s personal issues and motivations -- he takes the job mostly for the paycheck while he pursues his real goal of being a writer. As the school year progresses, Luke struggles to find a balance between the emotional, sometimes physical demands of his job and appropriate outlets for decompressing when the school day ends. And at the end of the day, Luke and his students are all aiming for the same thing: to survive. The trouble with “Developing Minds” is that it can’t decide what kind of book it wants to be: a young twenty-something coming-of-age story or a new teacher survival story? The book never fully develops into either and the two storylines don’t harmoniously weave together. As a coming-of-age story, readers need to be prepared for explicit and degrading sex scenes, copious amounts of drugs and alcohol use, and carelessness with little to no remorse. Though there is a cast of memorable characters in this part of Luke’s life, they are unlikable and even despicable in their actions. Luke sometimes shows growth and seems on the cusp of maturity, but he fails time and time again to turn the corner, acting selfishly more often than responsibly. Admirably, despite his off-hours activities, he makes it to school every morning. However, readers must wonder what strides could have been made if only he and his co-workers had given one hundred percent to their students instead of the leftover, hung-over shells that showed up to teach? As a new teacher survival story, “Developing Minds” is much more interesting, and the book is slow-moving until Luke starts the job. With the backdrop of about the toughest environment a teacher could be given, LaPoma’s world-building is outstanding. The school and all its occupants are in survival mode, and with chaos, disrespect, and violence the norm, the natural consequence is that administrators, teachers, and students must choose their battles -- or check-out completely. LaPoma nails the emotional turmoil most teachers experience – especially in situations where they are not in control. The helplessness and despair of Luke and other teachers in the school is palpable, and it is in Luke’s progression of overcoming those feelings that Luke shows real growth. Unfortunately, just as he begins to understand his students, empathize with their situations, connect with them, and ultimately teach them, he abandons them. Jonathan LaPoma writes very well, though some additional editing is needed to correct numerous comma splices, a few pronoun errors, and some page numbering issues. There were full side-stories that should have been edited out (namely in his relationships) as they didn’t add anything or move the story forward in any way. Though the book is pitched as dark humor or satire, I rarely found it humorous. Rather, it was disturbing, depressing, and ventured too often into the truly distasteful. Overall, “Developing Minds” has some excellence, but those parts are mostly overshadowed and buried in the raunch.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lambert

    I was excited when I got this book, wondering how the author was going to combine both a coming of age novel and a ghost story. Only to find out that it's neither. First off, I was really annoyed that the author did false advertisement. This is NOT a ghost story. It has nothing to do with ghosts or paranormal activity. It honestly has nothing to do with coming of age either. The main character, Luke, is probably the worst character. 24, new teacher, does drugs, is stuck up, believes he's better th I was excited when I got this book, wondering how the author was going to combine both a coming of age novel and a ghost story. Only to find out that it's neither. First off, I was really annoyed that the author did false advertisement. This is NOT a ghost story. It has nothing to do with ghosts or paranormal activity. It honestly has nothing to do with coming of age either. The main character, Luke, is probably the worst character. 24, new teacher, does drugs, is stuck up, believes he's better than the rest. I couldn't relate to this character at all. Luke is telling the story.... but it felt like reading a teenager's journal. It was all over the place and the character wasn't strong at all. There was no plot in this book at all. Is it suppose to be a coming of age novel? Is it a "I'll save the school" type book? A make a difference with the kids? There is NOTHING that supports or backs this book. I wanted to stop reading this book at Chapter 4, for many reasons. But I forced myself to read it; wondering what the author decided to cram into the book to try and make a story. Well, I have a list and it's not pretty. 1. Child Abuse This book is strong in child abuse (as well as other abuses.) Here is an example: One of the "teachers" has a trouble student. This teacher decided to chase said student down the hall and physically BEAT the child. Child abuse isn't just physical, it is also verbal. One of the teacher characters even called a child a "fat a**", a "b****" and a "n*****".... so you can see why this is my problem number 1. 2. Vulgarity This book was also extremely vulgar. So much so, I was highly uncomfortable. I literally counted how many times the F-Bomb was used in this book. There are other words I could've counted, but I have a point with counting this word in particular. Here is my point. The F-Bomb is the only curse word you can throw anywhere in a sentence and still make the sentence grammatically correct. (Yes, I looked it up.) Just because the F-bomb can be used anywhere in a sentence, DOESN'T mean you should. As I mentioned earlier, I counted the use of the word. This word has been used a total of 273 times. 3. List of abuses. So while reading this book, I have discovered a list of abuses the author wrote. These abuses are: verbal. physical, substance (drugs/alcohol), sexual and a hint of psychological. This book gives a negative insight to teaching. All the teachers I know, NEVER verbally or physically abuses their students. According to the "About Author" section, the author taught in schools for 10 years. If this is how he portrays teaching and his main character....... it makes me wonder what kind of teaching he actually did. I was very disappointed in this book. I refuse to recommend it, for it seemed to be a waste of my time. This book deserves 0/5 stars.... but sadly, that is not an option on GoodReads.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Clarkey

    Mr. Entelechy is stretched to the end of his tether as he struggles to gain respect from the streetwise kids in one of Florida’s most notorious high schools. To escape the week day teaching tribulations, Mr. En absorbs himself in a world of debauchery as he gets his rocks off amidst Miami’s nightlife, meeting some rather unsavoury characters along the way. A truly great read, both funny and forlorn, I read this book in a few days, picking it up whenever I had a spare minute. I haven’t read any K Mr. Entelechy is stretched to the end of his tether as he struggles to gain respect from the streetwise kids in one of Florida’s most notorious high schools. To escape the week day teaching tribulations, Mr. En absorbs himself in a world of debauchery as he gets his rocks off amidst Miami’s nightlife, meeting some rather unsavoury characters along the way. A truly great read, both funny and forlorn, I read this book in a few days, picking it up whenever I had a spare minute. I haven’t read any Kerouac for a few years now, but reading this book seemed to stimulate some forgotten electrical pulses within my brain, as I was suddenly taken back ‘On the Road’ to Miami for the weekend, hedonistic and free, mingling with strangers, everyone carefree and looking for kicks. The great thing Lapoma does though is that he manages to fuse these two lives together to tell a great story, this isn’t just a modern beat novel with drink and drugs, these are polarised with Mr. Ens flip side, the caring teacher who holds high values when it comes to education. Education is the main building block in helping to shape futures, its just a shame that at such a young age, we are usually too young to realise it. That’s the importance of Mr. En, we need to try to connect with the kids and not just teach. Anyways, that’s enough bullshit from me, I’m off for a drink now, Tide Pool anyone ?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pam Truax

    Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story by Jonathan LaPoma is the story of Luke Entelechy. Luke is 24 and basically floudering in life. His passion is writing and he is well on his way writing a book when he upends all and heads to Miami to interview for a teacher's position. At this point Developing Minds becomes not only Luke's story, but the story of the Miami public school system. Developing Minds is a very real account of the demise of America's public school systems. Luke up until this po Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story by Jonathan LaPoma is the story of Luke Entelechy. Luke is 24 and basically floudering in life. His passion is writing and he is well on his way writing a book when he upends all and heads to Miami to interview for a teacher's position. At this point Developing Minds becomes not only Luke's story, but the story of the Miami public school system. Developing Minds is a very real account of the demise of America's public school systems. Luke up until this point pretty much has just had to worry about himself and his life. That changes--the children of his school began to take on a real presence in his life. He sees everyday neglect, abuse and hardship. Teachers have a tremendous burden day in and day out to watch these children come from their homes and try to be productive academically. LaPoma does an excellent job of giving the reader an insight to exactly what the plights of our public school systems are. He does not tell you what you want to hear, but what actually is taking place in these kids lives and the lives of their teachers. With that being said Developing Minds is by no means a downer - there is lots of humor throughout - and is truly an entertaining book. LaPoma has taught, some events in Developing Minds come from real experiences. Enjoyed the book immensely!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    Do you like reading about… Social inequalities? Drug use? Black out alcoholism? Psychedelic freak-outs? Parties that Bacchus would envy? Poignant teaching moments? Budding friendships? Heartfelt tearjerkers? Personal struggle? Finding one's voice? Ups and downs of long term relationships? If you like biting comedies, drama, and rated R (nearly X) movies, then this book will satiate all of your needs. You might be turned off at first by Luke, the narrator who doesn't know what he wants. However, thanks to th Do you like reading about… Social inequalities? Drug use? Black out alcoholism? Psychedelic freak-outs? Parties that Bacchus would envy? Poignant teaching moments? Budding friendships? Heartfelt tearjerkers? Personal struggle? Finding one's voice? Ups and downs of long term relationships? If you like biting comedies, drama, and rated R (nearly X) movies, then this book will satiate all of your needs. You might be turned off at first by Luke, the narrator who doesn't know what he wants. However, thanks to this flaw, the reader gets to peek into the struggles of a first year teacher who can't handle his diverse Miami classroom and the inequalities of the education system, all while debauchery and bad decisions run amok and tempt Luke and his friends forwards, backwards, and occasionally downwards. Heart strings will be pulled, and eyes will widen. In the end, you will feel the empathy and sympathy that we feel for all people under 25 when they just can't seem to get their career, love, morals, and plain old shit together.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Norma

    "No place on this earth is a paradise" Two friends move to Miami for a year to soak up sun, scenery and the space to work on their writing (and have some fun along the way). To finance their time there, both take teaching jobs, and this is the first person recounting of their experiences. Beautifully, and very readably written, often funny, honest and sometimes naughty, but overall very human, I found it difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at so much of what was encountered within the school "No place on this earth is a paradise" Two friends move to Miami for a year to soak up sun, scenery and the space to work on their writing (and have some fun along the way). To finance their time there, both take teaching jobs, and this is the first person recounting of their experiences. Beautifully, and very readably written, often funny, honest and sometimes naughty, but overall very human, I found it difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at so much of what was encountered within the school system and the lives of the students. If only one quarter is true, then I really fear for the future of so many. Highly recommended both for the story itself and for the insights provoked

  24. 5 out of 5

    Soniya

    Luke Entelechy after returning from his 5 months Mexico tour plans to move to Miami at the start of the year to get a teaching job even though he hates teaching. He persuades his old friend Billy who is gay to join him and enjoy moments in American Tropics and to finish writing his screenplay with Billy's help. The story really kicks off when Luke starts to teach in GW, one of the F - rated, dysfunctional schools in Florida State. School becomes like a battlefield for him. Kids are non-cooperativ Luke Entelechy after returning from his 5 months Mexico tour plans to move to Miami at the start of the year to get a teaching job even though he hates teaching. He persuades his old friend Billy who is gay to join him and enjoy moments in American Tropics and to finish writing his screenplay with Billy's help. The story really kicks off when Luke starts to teach in GW, one of the F - rated, dysfunctional schools in Florida State. School becomes like a battlefield for him. Kids are non-cooperative and unforgiving show no respect to anyone. More than half of his periods are spent breaking fights in the class all the while protecting his self-esteem. Some of his coworkers are great. They help him to really understand his students for which I'm really grateful. I like how Luke despite everything refuses to quit and he does his best to teach and guide those kids. There is a kind of toxic friendship between Billy and Margot (Luke's coworker). I can't believe Billy. He is just so weird and crazy. He's an annoying character I must say. He has so many things going on with him and for everything, he is like," Eh, whatever". But I also feel sorry for him. Margot is a strong character but she may sometimes lose her grounds. There are also some wild weekend actions that I enjoyed reading except a few which includes that Tito guy and his group. I didn't really like him. There is also a little crazy thing that happens between Luke and someone from his childhood which I don't know how I feel about that. By the end of the book, Luke knows his true calling and head toward California to pursue it. The book portrays a sad and very real picture of the working of the education systems. It shows all that is wrong with it but doesn't give anything about the solution. I think that's the main point of the book to know what is the problem. I salute Jonathan LaPoma for his bravery in choosing an issue like education and sharing such a story with us readers. Overall, the book is quite remarkable and I have an amazing time reading it. Teaching is a tough and stressful job and this book excellently portrays that aspect of it. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know how it is like to be a young teacher. Developing Minds- An American ghost story is the fourth book in loosely-linked series by Jonathan LaPoma. You can read every book as a stand-alone as well. I've been following the series from the first book so I already know that it's no ghost story and the word 'ghost' is a metaphor for those things we can't see but are haunting us everywhere. I'm very thankful to the author Jonathan LaPoma for providing me with the ebook version of the books of this series. You are awesome!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Helena

    I started reading this book with some high expectations and I must say that those expectations were met. The book is about a professor named Luke, who is struggling to be successful in the school he’s teaching. He’s got a job in an F school – a problematic school – where he found the most unexpected students that try to be tough on the outside — not because they want, but because they are also struggling at home and trying to fit in the society. As we follow Luke’s path as a professor, we also wat I started reading this book with some high expectations and I must say that those expectations were met. The book is about a professor named Luke, who is struggling to be successful in the school he’s teaching. He’s got a job in an F school – a problematic school – where he found the most unexpected students that try to be tough on the outside — not because they want, but because they are also struggling at home and trying to fit in the society. As we follow Luke’s path as a professor, we also watch the struggle within himself. Luke feels that his life deserves more than that. He wants to be a writer, but he’s not sure that’s the right path for him — which is interesting to see because while reading, we notice that he is not being himself. He’s having doubts about following his dreams. And that’s something that happens to a lot of us, every day. What I liked the most about the book was to watch the professor’s evolution path: the apprehensive way he reacts to the students in the beginning, and then, as the time goes by, the way he starts understanding their feelings, life experiences, and how they must live with it every single day. The book reveals American’s schools reality, particularly the struggles some teachers have to endure in order to teach and the way that influences their own life. It was a good and easy reading. I loved how the description is so straightforward and how everything is raw, blunt and direct. http://semtudo.pt/2017/04/18/developi...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Terrilee Perry

    I was looking for something new to read and remembered that Jonathan had written a book. I received my copy through Amazon and didn't put the book down. I didn't know what to expect but each chapter seemed to draw me in...the realities of everyday emotional struggles pulled at me. I will recommend this book. I can't wait to see what Jonathan writes next. I was looking for something new to read and remembered that Jonathan had written a book. I received my copy through Amazon and didn't put the book down. I didn't know what to expect but each chapter seemed to draw me in...the realities of everyday emotional struggles pulled at me. I will recommend this book. I can't wait to see what Jonathan writes next.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Atiqah

    This book reveals plenty about the American educational institution and how it’s not designed to be the most appropriate system for troubled young minds from a troubled neighbourhood. The narrator, Luke and his friend, Billy groan and complain about having to teach and are sceptic about the whole system. More than once in this novel, they’re wondering why they’re even doing it. What’s in a title? Sometimes, you can tell lots about a book just from its title. Developing Minds; I see this as both v This book reveals plenty about the American educational institution and how it’s not designed to be the most appropriate system for troubled young minds from a troubled neighbourhood. The narrator, Luke and his friend, Billy groan and complain about having to teach and are sceptic about the whole system. More than once in this novel, they’re wondering why they’re even doing it. What’s in a title? Sometimes, you can tell lots about a book just from its title. Developing Minds; I see this as both verb and the main character Luke's state. He is developing both young minds (students) and his own mind. Ghost Story; This novel is written in such a way that the pursuit of educating young minds from troubled families in a troubled neighbourhood is scary. Luke goes into class imagining all sorts of trouble he’ll have to neutralise and at the same time, teach. It’s moving to see Mr Entelechy having moments where he’s getting through to a tough classroom. But hey, his name is Entelechy after all. My sincerest thanks to the author for my review copy. Read full review on Bookmarks & Blue Light

  28. 4 out of 5

    Adam Ross

    I really enjoyed this book! It definitely exceeded my expectations. When I cracked it open I didn't know what to expect (I didn't read the jacket description - I know, shame on me). I thought it would your typical ghost story, something like a haunting in a school. But instead I was treated to a different type of ghost story, one much more real and much more relatable. We meet Luke as he leaves NYC for Miami. On a whim he heads do the coastal city looking for a job with the Miami School District. I really enjoyed this book! It definitely exceeded my expectations. When I cracked it open I didn't know what to expect (I didn't read the jacket description - I know, shame on me). I thought it would your typical ghost story, something like a haunting in a school. But instead I was treated to a different type of ghost story, one much more real and much more relatable. We meet Luke as he leaves NYC for Miami. On a whim he heads do the coastal city looking for a job with the Miami School District. Tagging along is his friend Billy. The two have been friends for quite some time and set off for a new adventure. Both are in search of teaching jobs and both land teaching jobs. However, those jobs are in a couple of low performing schools with a number of troubled kids crowding the halls. As Luke adjusts to his new life in Miami we quickly learn that he struggles to do the right thing and seems rather lost, almost like he's drifting from one day to the next just hoping to get through the school year. He befriends a few of his fellow teachers and they go onto some crazy adventures after hours. Many of Luke's night are spent getting drunk at a nearby bar and falling asleep on the bar, only to be wakened by the flirty woman tending bar. But that's just the start of his eyebrow-raising antics. Not only are we treated to a view of teachers in their private lives but we are also given a glimpse into the daily operation of a failing education system. Despite the best efforts of the teachers the students grow more and more unruly and are fearless in the face of a system that doesn't want to take a stand in one direction of another. I'm related to a teacher so a lot of what is depicted in this novel isn't far from the truth (in terms of the education system, schools and administrators). All in all this was a terrific read with plenty of humor. Some absolutely fantastic comebacks and witty one-liners dominate a lot of the after hours conversation. Luke and teacher Wolo's friendship is truly a highlight and their banter is priceless.

  29. 4 out of 5

    K M

    I received this book for free from a Goodreads Giveaway. A recently-retired South Florida teacher, I found the cover, and the synopsis very appealing. Having finished the book, however, I must say I am feeling rather ambivalent about it. The chapters about the school and teaching were quite interesting. The descriptions of some of the students, teachers and situations often rang true. However, many things were bothersome. One example - Luke should have followed his instinct to be a "whistleblowe I received this book for free from a Goodreads Giveaway. A recently-retired South Florida teacher, I found the cover, and the synopsis very appealing. Having finished the book, however, I must say I am feeling rather ambivalent about it. The chapters about the school and teaching were quite interesting. The descriptions of some of the students, teachers and situations often rang true. However, many things were bothersome. One example - Luke should have followed his instinct to be a "whistleblower" when he repeatedly witnessed a staff member being violently abusive. Teachers are mandated reporters in Florida (and probably everywhere else). It seemed ridiculous and unbelievable to have an employee like the tech guy in contact with children. It's hard to tell who the target audience for this book is. Luke seems likeable as a teacher- one gets the sense that he has respect for the students, and really wants to succeed with them. This would appeal to teachers or education students. But, outside his classroom doors, he and his friends seem to have an utter disregard for the humanity of women, frequently referring to them as "bitches", and engaging them in degrading sex acts. I'm no prude, nor are any of my friends (who happen to be mostly teachers) but I am almost positive none of them would enjoy reading those parts of the book. Yeah, we get it, some young teachers like to party. But, the stuff with Tito and his friend, and with Luke's old neighbor just seemed gratuitous, not to mention disgusting. Bottom line is, I liked the parts of the book that wanted to be about the challenges of teaching in a low-performing school, about the teachers like Luke, Wolo, and the Professor, but didn't care for the parts of the book that wanted to be about something else.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marianne1

    Developing Minds captures one teacher's rise into deep caring and compassion for his students in impossible situations. As the seventh graders very gradually offer him the R-E-S-P-E-C-T he so desperately needs and wants and is unsure how to get, he is amazed at the heart and soul insights revealed. La Poma's unique and often chilling descriptions of teacher behaviors in and out of the school unravel wonderfully. His personal friends are pretty much downers who need to evolve. It's impossible to Developing Minds captures one teacher's rise into deep caring and compassion for his students in impossible situations. As the seventh graders very gradually offer him the R-E-S-P-E-C-T he so desperately needs and wants and is unsure how to get, he is amazed at the heart and soul insights revealed. La Poma's unique and often chilling descriptions of teacher behaviors in and out of the school unravel wonderfully. His personal friends are pretty much downers who need to evolve. It's impossible to comprehend how Billy ever had time to write daily lesson plans. It would have been great to see Luke meet up with THE LION TREES' David to compare academic and personal disaster recovery strategies. I hope that many more readers, notably those thinking about teaching at middle and high schools, will enjoy and learn from both of their experiences AND that both books will be released as movies for the First Day of School, 2016.

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