Book Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Laughing Fire Press
Release Date: September 14, 2015
Buy Link(s): Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Developing-Minds-American-Ghost-Story/dp/0967492297/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1442109831&sr=8-2&keywords=developing+minds
Barnes and Noble.com:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/developing-minds-jonathan-lapoma/1122192543?ean=9780967492292Book Description:
-“Raw and edgy. . . Entertaining and authentic look at the troubled American education system. . .” —Kirkus Reviews, Recommended Review
-“A scathing comic novel . . . sort of a M*A*S*H for Miami schoolteachers.” —Patrick Murtha, Book ’em, Danno
-“Incredibly artistic . . . raw and endearing.” –San Francisco 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.
We joined the herd and sat somewhere in back. Some far-too-energetic young woman, who probably had a horrible childhood she never left, was hopping around onstage trying to contrive spirit as some ‘80s pop crap blasted from speakers behind her. She was nearly out of breath, punctuating her performance with “Yeah”s and “Super”s. The music soon stopped, and she stepped to the mic. “Congratulations to all of you for being where you are. You now join the wonderful family that is the MPSD.”
“Yeah, the dysfunctional family,” said the brunette sitting beside Billy.
“And we’re their bastard children,” Billy said.
“I really hope that woman isn’t the mother,” I said. “She fucking scares me.”
The bitch onstage was smiling like a goddamned idiot.
The brunette held out her hand. “The name’s Abbi. I just got sentenced to West Miami High.”
“Hey, my school’s the feeder to yours!” I said, with far too much enthusiasm. I hung my head.
“Yeah, and my school’s the feeder to Dade County Corrections,” she said.
Billy let out a loud snort. Several people turned around to see where it came from. I started chuckling.
Some crazy, old woman stumbled onto the stage, and the cheerleader passed her the mic. The woman spared no time in upping the day’s level of insanity. “Hello, my name is Sandy Frankles, and I’m the Deputy Superintendent of the Miami Public Schools District, and I want to say that I’m appalled by the likes of your filthy people slandering our dear Superintendent’s name. Dana Canterbury never misappropriated any funds and to suggest that her recent purchase of a yacht in any way hurt our children makes you a damned fool—” The cheerleader came back out and yanked the mic away from Ms. Frankles. Her words were amplified through the speakers. “Sandy . . . SANDY, this is the new teacher orientation, not a press conference. Get it together!”
Ms. Frankles, who may have been drunk, took back the mic. “I’m sorry, I mistook you all for something you weren’t. Fear not, for I have the ability to change gears quickly, and I will deliver you a wonderful introduction. That is, after all, what they’re paying me for—”
“Yeah, too much!” yelled a heckler.
Ms. Frankles pointed indiscriminately into the crowd. “I wouldn’t take a red cent that wasn’t mine! Show yourself, you coward!”
The cheerleader grabbed the mic away from Ms. Frankles and started ushering her from the stage. “Okay, okay, Sandy, I think we’ve got enough from you today.”
But Sandy wasn’t going quietly. She kept pumping her fists and threatening she’d show us all!
“What the hell was that about?” I said.
“I don’t know, but it can’t be good for business,” Billy said.
I scanned the crowd, but no one seemed fazed by what had just happened. People were texting, sleeping, reading books, and one woman was even crocheting a blanket. Perhaps this was just another day in Paradise . . .
Author Bio:Jonathan LaPoma is an award-winning novelist, 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. His five feature-length screenplays have won over 40 awards/honors at various international screenwriting competitions, and his novel DEVELOPING MINDS: AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY is a finalist in the 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes for best Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction. He lives in San Diego and teaches at a public secondary school.
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