The Symphony of Leifby Paul Csige
At first blush the Lamia School seems to be a dream come true, but soon Leif discovers darker and more
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Leif, a 14 year old boy from Hawaii, learns of a "unique teaching style" at a place called Lamia, a Scientology boarding school, in a remote corner of the Pacific Northwest. Desperate to escape his current school and his domineering father, Leif enrolls.
At first blush the Lamia School seems to be a dream come true, but soon Leif discovers darker and more sinister intentions than educating young minds. Stranded far from home, Leif must maneuver through a world of zealous students, totalitarian teachers and brutal punishments, while striving to make friends, find love, and cope with all the trials of adolescents.
If Leif survives the insidious Lamia School, what kind of Adult will be forged in this contemporary coming-of-age novel?
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Meet the Author
PAUL Y. CSIGE is a traveler, fisherman, surfer, writer, and filmmaker who holds degrees from Berklee College of Music and The New York Film Academy. He has worked in both television and film industries for several years as an editor and director. He was commissioned by the Kamuela Philharmonic to compose a full orchestral overture and successfully adapted the book "Voyage: The Discovery of Hawaii" by renowned historian and artist Herb Kawainui Kane into an award winning feature film. He has combined his creative experience in story telling through music and films to produce this fictional memoir. He currently lives in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
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I read this because I had just finished a great memoir about a woman who grew up in Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints sect run by Warren Jeffs. I was so intrigued by her story (Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs) that I was curious about other strict religious environments, such as Scientology, and thought this book would be an interesting perspective on it. Unfortunately, this book could have been about any teenage boy living in a boarding school anywhere. The pranks, the language, the discipline - they all seemed quite commonplace and ordinary. Just your typical "coming-of-age" story. Not at all what I expected. Though the book was a quick, easy read in spite of being over 950 pages, I was disappointed and felt it would be more appealing to a younger audience (such as 15 year old boys). It also shed very little light on what Scientology is about.
I bought this book for myself because I saw that it was about life for one boy at a Scientology boarding school. As soon as it arrived, I was still reading Janet Reitman's 'Inside Scientology' so I offered it to my teenager in the hopes that the book would take him away from his video games onto the reading list I planned for him for the summer. My son could not put the book down until he was finished. I have never seen him like this about a book! When I told him I was going to write a review, he said to tell readers "This is an awesome book!" And indeed it is. I wish Janet Reitman had read it before she wrote about the exscientology kids in this new book of hers. She would have had a better perspective of what these kids are made to endure and perhaps ask more involved questions when she interviewed them. This is an profound, touching and well written fictionalized story from the perspective of bright but dyslexic teenager who makes the choice to attend a boarding school he knows almost nothing about rather than become the failure his father has already decided he will probably be. Little does he know what he has gotten himself into and where it will take his life. We share in the often times harrowing adventure as he matures while learning to survive the Truman Show confines of the opressive and totalitarian Scientology based 'Lamia School', based, I suspect, on the infamous Delphian School of Sheridan, Oregon. Now, I am a former long time scientologist who has seen first hand the harm that Scientology does to people and families. Especially the harm done to children. One only has to read the stories of other attendees of this school program, as well as the many exscientology kids testimonies on the internet, to understand. This is, perhaps, the first book ever written about the life of a teenager entering the dark world of Scientology unawares. The fact that it is fictionalized is due to several factors: 1), who wants to be sued by Scientology? lol! And 2) it gives the author option to allow the teen to take liberties with his experiences and imagination to arrive at his own form of retribution. You follow the main character, Leif, through his efforts to make sense of and rise above the insanity and indoctrination while others succumb to one degree or another. In reading this, it reminded me of a magnified version of The Stepford Wives for teens. This is a good thing because the importances of a 14 year old are always magnified. It's the nature of the beast of puberty. This is a must read book for readers of all ages but a word of of caution for parents that there is a small amount of profanity typical of teens and they may want to review it first. I suggest they do this anyway because it is an excellent look into the psyche of a teenager trying to make sense of and take a stand against evil influences. I am sure that this was a cathartic effort for Paul Csige and I am grateful that he has blessed us with this book. I hope many others, especially those concerned about cultic influences, make a point to read it.
Paul Y. Csige has all the potential for becoming an important writer - a sophisticated manner of weaving the current with the past, a gift for creating interesting characters and developing them as the story progresses, the courage to take on some controversial subject matter, and a solid drive toward an ending of a novel that is satisfying without feeling as though things are just too tidy. Leif Csuba lives with his mother Rebecca and his Hungarian immigrant father Istvan in Hawaii - an idyllic setting but not one conducive to Leif happiness as far as school is concerned. Finishing 8th grade he is determined not to go to high school. His parents discover an alternative - a school called Lamia in the Pacific Northwest. Open for adventure and for being free from the usual teaching principles of his early education, Leif agrees to enroll in what happens to be a school controlled by Scientology complete with the learning techniques by Scientology guru L. Ron Hubbard. The school is regimented to the extreme with every student expected to participate in the upkeep of the institution. It takes a while for Leif to adjust and even longer to find friends, but what follows is a journey through a bizarre institution that feels more like a prison than a place of higher learning. But the experience strengthens Leif's vision of how he wants to lead his life - in music - and in the end our student hero has found his way toward maturity. According to this information 'PAUL Y. CSIGE is a traveler, fisherman, surfer, writer, and filmmaker who holds degrees from Berklee College of Music and The New York Film Academy. He has worked in both television and film industries for several years as an editor and director. He was commissioned by the Kamuela Philharmonic to compose a full orchestral overture and successfully adapted the book "Voyage: The Discovery of Hawaii" by renowned historian and artist Herb Kawainui Kane into an award winning feature film. He has combined his creative experience in story telling through music and films to produce this fictional memoir. He currently lives in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.' Those are mighty credentials for a young artist. The bode well for a writer with obvious talent and it will be interesting to see how he fares in a non-memoir type story. This reader feels that he has the gift, but it will take another book to substantiate that feeling. Grady Harp
Reading "The Lamia Pog" was like finding your introverted grandson's diary and going from not having a clue as to what makes him tick, since you haven't exchanged more than two sentences with him all week, to being amazed about what's in his head and what's going on with him. It is an eloquent exposé of life as seen from a teenager's perspective and, of course, I'm not talking about the well adjusted, run of the mill adolescent who fits into traditional schooling but the teen-ager with the label ADD attached to his school record and not a clue about how he's going to make it through to graduation. Not only are Leif's reactions to every day life revealed but his struggles in dealing with contradictory and capricious school rules and the teachers who impose them. His interaction with the varied personalities of his peers makes for compelling reading. He weaves an account of life in that perplexing institution called boarding school - and his school is more peculiar and cruel than most! Particularly poignant is the notion that this kid loves his parents and knows that they are doing everything is their power to help him succeed. His struggle with what's dished out to him and the certain knowledge that this is his last chance is riveting. This book is filled with insight into the life of a student with special needs. His story is well-crafted and deftly told and its conclusion is satisfying. We can only hope for a sequel which tells us what happens when Leif pursues his musical education in Hungary. I have a feeling that experience is waiting to leap out from the screen of his lap top and onto the printed page and will be just as entertaining.