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Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story by Jonathan LaPoma

four-stars

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Luke Entelechy needs a job. An aspiring writer with only incomplete projects to his name, Luke is invited along to a teacher recruitment event in New York City with his friend Billy. Teaching isn’t exactly what either of them wants to be doing – high effort, high stress, low returns – but both boys need to start making money. And fast. Billy lands a job at an A school in Miami, ranked as one of the best schools in the country by its students’ test scores, while Luke finds himself teaching social studies at a nearby F school, the very opposite of the academic spectrum. What follows is a poignant, engaging, and oftentimes light-hearted look at the many shortcomings of the American education system and the numerous heroic men and women who sacrifice countless hours to keeping their students in school.

Developing Minds offers a frighteningly accurate depiction of inner-city schools as seen through the eyes of a rookie teacher. Success in teaching is increasingly less about talent or knowledge and more about maintaining classroom order and keeping calm in the face of insubordination from one’s students. LaPoma has created a relatable, yet deeply flawed, character in Mr. Entelechy whose misplaced creative angst develops into a desire to positively impact his students’ futures. Pervading the story is a highly effective cloud of tension, which looms over the school where Luke teaches but soon expands into all aspects of Luke’s life, illustrating how the harsh demands of teaching in inner-city schools can come to affect a person’s relationships, his home life – even his very happiness. Buoyed by his friendship with Billy and emboldened by the many challenges his job presents, Luke seeks to survive his first year of teaching and help his students grow into adulthood, all while attempting to figure his life out and untether himself from the disappointments of his past. Developing Minds is a full-bodied work of fiction that will ring true with both students and teachers and provide a point of hope in an industry that has become increasingly profit-minded and complex.

Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story is a forthcoming title from Laughing Fire Press.