The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M Danforth
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Release Date: 7th February 2012
Edition: US proof, purchased copy
When Cameron Post’s parents die in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief she’ll never have to tell them that, hours earlier, she’d been kissing a girl.
But that relief soon turns to heartbreak, as Cam is forced to move in with her conservative Aunt Ruth. She knows that from this point on, her life will be forever different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and not making waves, and Cam becomes an expert at this – especially at avoiding any questions about her sexuality.
Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect cowboy boyfriend to match. To Cam’s surprise, she and Coley become best friends – while Cam secretly dreams of something more. Just as this starts to seem like a real possibility, her secret is exposed. Ultra-religious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self – even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.
I went into The Miseducation of Cameron Post with little to no knowledge of the book other than CJ Skuse’s assurances of its awesomeness. She was completely right about it.
I’m not really sure what I expected from The Miseducation of Cameron Post, but the first part of the book still managed to surprise me: I was not expecting Cam’s story to start when she was twelve and it put me off a little initially, but now I’m glad that it did. By half-way through the novel I realised how important it was to have had the novel start so early; it gave a resonance to her later relationships and really let the reader know that no length of time at Praise was going to ‘cure’ Cam of her feelings. That is who she is.
On the subject of the quest to rid Cam of her feelings, I was surprised at how strong the religious element of The Miseducation of Cameron Post was. I didn't realise that the American Midwest were quite so strict in their beliefs. The way that Cam’s sexuality was viewed by the people from her town and the leaders of Praise made me so unimaginably angry. I mean, I've always been in favour of gay rights, but I guess I didn't really realise how strongly I felt about it until I started to care about someone (albeit fictional) who was suffering because of sheer ignorance and stupidity.
The way that they believed that homosexuality is caused by reversed or confused gender roles or stemmed from childhood incidents in a Freudian way was simultaneously fascinating and horrifying. I know that they genuinely believed that they’re were trying to help, as did Aunt Ruth, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how they could. It really made me think a lot and I still haven’t gotten it out of my head.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is quirky, moving, thought-provoking and I loved every page. Emily M Danforth is a serious new talent in YA.
I purchased this copy in an Oxfam Bookshop.