Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story

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Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story is an incredibly artistic novel, straying from the traditional idea of a ghost story. Instead of depicting souls of the dead, haunting the living; the ghost story that author Jonathan LaPoma spews is full of hauntings of the living by their ideals and dreams. Perhaps exactly what we all go through in our attempts to have a career and a life outside of it. The vast majority of college grads will relate with themes of alienation, addiction, and misguided hopes. The main character, desperate teacher Luke, is working at a low-graded school, thinking his creative pursuits are failing, all the while we readers are truly impressed with his ability to steer clear of really f-ing it all up.

Filled with drama and drugs, this novel is raw and endearing. It teeters on the edge of obscene, but really stays true to the life of an early 20-year old, amidst the drama and guise of self-discovery. Instead of idealizing public schools or idolizing functional drug addicts, it just lays out the truth; sometimes you teach at the worst schools with the worst kids. And sometimes you don’t overdose, you just keep on stringing your life along, try to reach the maximums in every moment. Luke: sometimes he’s lazy, has a short temper, and gets wasted. But, most of the time, he just shrugs it off, eh.

LaPoma does an excellent job of keeping the plot away from us – we aren’t sure what the next day holds for his cast of characters. At every turn of the page, we are sure that someone is about to get axed, but LaPoma sticks to reality – life is riveting enough without introducing unrealistic, television-inspired, plot twists. So no one dies, no one overdoses, and no one gets beaten to a pulp. Congratulations to Luke, and LaPoma, for surviving a year at an F school.


Reviewed By:

Author Jonathan LaPoma
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 343 pages
Publisher Laughing Fire Press
Publish Date 14-Sep-2015
ISBN 9780967492292
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue September 2015
Category Modern Literature
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