Jonathan LaPoma

Author / Screenwriter

Scorpion logo Watercolor desert landscape
Sign up for free bonus chapters, short stories, screenplays & more:

A Novel by Jonathan LaPoma

Understanding the Alacran

Silver Medal Winner of the 2017 FAPA President's Awards

Trying to escape the oppression leading him to drinking, drugs, and despair, 22-year-old William James rejects a teaching position offer at a prestigious Buffalo high school and moves to Mexico to find freedom in its beaches, mountains, and culture.

But soon, this freedom becomes oppressive as well as William finds himself unable to avoid the pull of the wild party scene in the small town of Lila where he lives. He continues a downward spiral until he meets a complex and compassionate Mexican woman whose love inspires him to face the question he’s been avoiding: Is this trip a desperate search for life or a slow death?

A dark but humorous coming-of-age novel, UNDERSTANDING THE ALACRÁN explores many of the questions that haunt young people searching for love and their place in this world, and offers a poetic look at the raw beauty and healing power of Mexico.


-Silver Medal Winner of the 2017 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Awards (contemporary/literary category)

LaPoma obviously knows Mexico well, framing the nation not by its problems but by the hearts of its people . . . the descriptions of Mexican locales are as vibrant, colorful, and illuminating as the novel’s unique characters . . . shows an understanding of Mexico that goes beyond the ordinary.

–Kirkus Reviews 

I loved Understanding the Alacran . . . Beautifully written, funny, moving and all-round wonderful . . . My very highest recommendation.

–Chris Fischer, Readers Favorite, 5 Stars

An appealing, engrossing story that moves beyond the traditional coming of age approach to add social and cultural concerns into the mix . . . Given the latest state of affairs between the U.S. and Mexico . . . makes it an especially relevant, timely read.

–Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Unique and accessible . . . brilliant story that explores the evil of drugs, a man’s struggle for freedom, and redemption through love . . . the finish is awesome.

–Divine Zape, Readers Favorite, 5 Stars

Readers will also love the compelling characters and the way the author captures Mexican culture, its beautiful setting with its smells and sounds in this inspiring tale . . . a wonderful coming-of-age story.

–Arya Fomonyuy, Readers Favorite, 4 Stars

 *UNDERSTANDING THE ALACRÁN will be published by Almendro Arts on August 23, 2017
Add Understanding the Alacran as a book "To Read" on your Goodreads shelf

Understanding the Alacran
Read more

A Novel by Jonathan LaPoma

Developing Minds

An American Ghost Story

#1 Amazon Best Seller ("Satire" and "Urban Life" Kindle categories)

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.


-#1 Amazon Best Seller (“Satire” and “Urban Life” Kindle categories)

-Winner of the 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes (Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction category)

-Bronze Medal Winner of the 2016 FAPA President’s Awards (Adult eBook category)

“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.”

Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite, 5-Star Review

“Brilliant writing from a very promising new author. He is one to watch.”

Grady Harp, Hall of Fame and Top 100 Amazon Reviewer

“A scathing comic novel . . . sort of a M*A*S*H for Miami schoolteachers.”

Patrick Murtha, Book ’em, Danno

“Incredibly artistic . . .  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 . . .”

— San Francisco Book Review

“Poignant, engaging. . . a frighteningly accurate depiction of inner-city schools. “

Red City Review

“Readers will be gripped by the many dimensions the plot has to offer . . .”

— Mamta Madhaven, Readers’ Favorite, 5-Star Review

“Raunchy, yet captivating . . . Jonathan LaPoma is an extraordinary writer.”

— Stargazer Literary Prizes (1st Place)

“A multi-faceted exploration of growth, maturity, and eventual transformation on the parts of all involved.”

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review 

“There is never a lack of style and all the words, carefully measured, enclose a meaning and a wink . . .”

Kalyan Panja, Booktica

“WOW! I loved this book . . . I found myself laughing out loud . . . don’t miss it!”

— Trang Tran, Bookidote 

“About as far removed from ‘Dead Poets Society’ as you can get.”

— Gem L Thompson, The Book Eaters

“Developing Minds deserves five stars as a gritty, character-driven, coming-of-age novel by a talented writer.”

–Don Sloan of author Ingrid Hall’s Book Review Blog

“Not for the faint of heart, Developing Minds will either have you furiously flipping the pages or fearfully enrolling your kids in home school.”

— Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up, NoiseTrade

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.”

–Chantelle Atkins, Underground Book Reviews

Add Developing Minds as a book "To Read" on your Goodreads shelf

Developing Minds
Read more