Developing Minds

An American Ghost Story
September 14, 2015
Votes: 7

Editing, Production, Marketing & Sales

Edited by Jed Lewis
Cover design by The Book Designers
Published Through Laughing Fire Press
Marketed by Smith Publicity
Reviewed at Kirkus
Read a positive review
Displayed & sold at The Black
Distributed by Lightning Source
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

The Rundown

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).

While the kids at school are angry, used, abused and alienated, Luke and his friends have their own demons to deal with, including various addictions and promiscuous sexual behavior. Luke tries to rise above it all, both personally and professionally, but he certainly isn’t perfect, and is as flawed, damaged and confused as the rest of them. The author certainly succeeds in creating memorable and genuine characters. They had me laughing out loud, gasping in horror and nodding in recognition, and the dialogue was perfect.

As Luke begins to make progress with the kids, I found myself really rooting for him. This book is a very eye opening portrayal of the American public school system in deprived areas. As well as all this, Luke is an aspiring writer, who can’t seem to get a word down while teaching is consuming all of his energy and sanity. By the end of the book, I was totally torn between wanting him to stay at the school where he was finally getting through to the kids, and leaving it all behind to pursue his own dreams.

In many ways, the novel was spiritual, as well as coming-of-age, as Luke and the other colorful characters, question the meaning of life, and how best to put meaning into their lives. Once it got going, I really enjoyed this book on many levels. It is very well written, with believable and likable characters, plenty of action and adventure, as well as some poignant soul searching. An author I would like to read more from.

The Recommendation

Anyone who enjoys realistic fiction, with a gritty edge will enjoy this novel. The characters are extremely well written and believable, and the dialogue is perfect. Despite the serious matter, the book is also very humorous, visual and vibrant to read.

The Rating Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

4 Stars (out of 5): Recommended. For the right audience, this book is a great read. It can hold its own against any traditionally published novel in its genre.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Believable, Characterization, Dialogue, Emotional, Humor
Cons: Starts slow

The Reviewer

Chantelle Atkins

Chantelle Atkins is a mother of four from Dorset, England. She is addicted to both music and books and is currently on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She has self-published four novels and has just released her first short story collection. She writes for both the YA and adult genres. When she’s not writing books, she’s busy running her writing business Chasing Driftwood, which delivers creative writing clubs and workshops to local children and adults. She also writes regular articles about writing for Author’s Publish magazine, as well as short pieces for a local parenting magazine.


Visit Chantelle Atkins‘s website.

Author’s Summary

-#1 Amazon Best Seller in the “Satire” and “Urban Life” Kindle categories

-“Raw and edgy. . . Entertaining and authentic look at the troubled American education system. . .” –Kirkus Reviews, Recommended Review

-“Should be required reading for anyone who is considering or has ever considered teaching as a career. . . most highly recommended.” –Readers’ Favorite, 5-Star 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

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

-1st Place Winner of 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.

Short Description

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.


Hard partying teachers

Additional Links

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Awards and Notable Endorsements

The Stargazer Literary Prizes writing competition recognizes life-changing fiction and nonfiction with prizes at a global level. Winners have demonstrated outstanding ability to courageously communicate pressing issues, provide insights into the human dilemma and inspire the spirit.

– posted by jonlapoma    

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