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Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story by…
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Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story

by Jonathan LaPoma

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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 moments?
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. ( )
  veeveepee | Sep 29, 2016 |
For the perfect teacher horror story, read this.

First, let me say that this novel has a lot of great themes and ideas that it wanted to get across. As a teacher, there were many situations and circumstances that resonates with any teacher in the public education system. LaPoma tries to tackle all these issues in his book, Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story. But that was just the issue: nearly every single problem with the teaching profession is presented in the book, with little to no insight as to the solutions. If I weren't already a teacher, I don't think I'd ever want to be one if this were the only book on teaching that I ever read. There was barely any closure on the major issues that were presented.

The writing at times felt forced. Dialogue was spoken without really having to be spoken, and other times characters would say things (without any lead in) just to move the story along. It almost felt like riding on the train ride at Disneyland…without the narration to guide you along and prepare you. It just happens. I really did question some of the things that people say. Perhaps in different places, people with different backgrounds and lifestyles than mine might talk like that, but I still found it hard to believe. In addition, not one single character is likable. I guessed that that was what LaPoma was going for in his book, but I found it extremely difficult to be able to relate to any of the characters. Besides our main protagonist, everyone else is presented as one-dimensional, total lack of self-awareness, self-deprecating, jerks.

Certain events occurred without any real reason why. What was the purpose of the characters' retreat in Key West? In real life, this happens. People just go on vacation. But in writing, things happen for a reason. Otherwise, it's a waste of words, and a waste of time. Other key themes in the book are glossed over extremely quickly. When our teacher finally gets told by the teacher examples of white privilege and the racism that they encounter every day, our protagonist learns the error of his ways in about one sentence. Again, the pacing is extremely off.

This book had lots of potential, but in the end I found it depressing and a simple observation of the deeper issues in society. The reader is barely asked to think about these issues themselves, at least not on a deeper level than what is presented in the book. ( )
  jms001 | Sep 10, 2016 |
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. ( )
1 vote Yari-T | Jan 13, 2016 |
I read the Kindle edition of this book, received through LibraryThing.
As much as I hate to say it I really did not like the book. I could not read it straight through because I just found it frustrating.
As a teacher in a secondary school, I thought I would relate at least a little bit with the main character, Luke Entelechy, and I guess I made a connection while reading the too few classroom passages. There were just too many comments in the dialogue that made me wonder "why did LaPoma add this?" Such as: (censored) when Luke and Billy drive to South Beach in Chapter 1, "S***, this place is like a gigantic p***y waiting to be f****d..." ; Luke defends his career choice by saying, "Hey look man, you know about as much of teaching as I do the taste and texture of Marilyn Monroe's sn****, ya' dig?" ; and many more! There were characters who were introduced well, but I was left hanging when nothing really became of them, (loose ends). If I hadn't agreed to review the book, I would not have finished it. Reviewers on Amazon do not give an accurate review of this book (my opinion of course). Don't waste your time. ( )
  janejetson223 | Dec 27, 2015 |
I received this book as a Members Giveaway from LibraryThing.

Developing Minds is story of Luke. It is his journey through a job with a F grade school right from his hiring, his first day at school, what problems he faces with the students to how he deals with them.

Honestly, I had a hard time finishing the book mainly because I could not relate to the book at all. None of the characters spoke to me or touched me. I could not even remember the name of the students that Luke was interacting with.

I finished the book eventually. The book seems to be running in circles. It is only the events in the school year that reminds you that the year is moving ahead.

Through out the book i waited and waited for Luke to have some sort of realization or epiphany. At one point I thought he has actually started to redeem himself but then he reverted back to his old ways again.

The end of the book disappointed me the most. Luke just packs up and drives into the sunset. I guess i expected more from the book at the end or may be a different sort of an ending.

http://pgupte.blogspot.com/2015/12/book-review-developing-minds-by_15.html ( )
  meetpraj | Dec 15, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0967492297, Perfect Paperback)

-"Raw and edgy...Entertaining and authentic look at the troubled American education system..." --Kirkus Reviews   

-"A frighteningly accurate depiction of inner-city schools..." --Red City Review

-"Raunchy, yet captivating..." --Stargazer Literary Prizes

-"A multi-faceted exploration of growth, maturity, and eventual transformation..." --D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

-Finalist in 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes for best Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Jul 2015 14:27:13 -0400)

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Jonathan LaPoma's book Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story was available from LibraryThing Member Giveaway.

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Jonathan LaPoma is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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