Emily M. Danforth's debut novel is a weighty, extensive look at Cameron's journey from a scared girl who is trying to deal with her feelings for girls to a young woman who is forced to make decisions about how she wants to live her life. The story starts when Cameron is just twelve years old and covers all of her relationships—her first kiss with her best friend Irene and the ensuing fallout between them, her summer friendship with benefits with her Lindsey, her friendship and attempt at a romance with her best guy friend Jamie, and finally her brief romance with Coley before her aunt sends her away. Because the book covers so much ground, it focuses more on Cameron dealing with her sexuality than with her relationship with Coley, and all of the mistakes she makes along the way. She's not always very mature about her relationship decisions—there is a lot of physical action, but rarely does she pause to talk and figure out how to make a relationship work, which is all part of the learning experience. Her attempts at dealing with her homosexuality also are closely tied with how she reconciles her feelings about her parents' sudden deaths. It's not really until she hits her low and is forced to attend God's Promise Academy that she realizes that sometimes the people in charge don't really have a clue about what they're doing either, and that she didn't really get the chance to know her parents as people, and maybe they would have reacted differently than her aunt Ruth.
Throughout her journey, Danforth doesn't force any labels on Cameron, and despite the 1990's setting and her issues with her sexuality, Cameron’s struggles and feelings of isolation are very relatable for any reader. Danforth's writing is both gritty and beautiful, and there are some very beautiful metaphors throughout the novel. While it does seem like the book ends a little abruptly, readers will be happy about where Danforth leaves Cameron, and the conclusion is very appropriate. Though lengthy, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a thought-provoking and important novel that readers will fly through.
Cover Comments: I really love this cover. The hay field is very appropriate, I love the pop of color in the title, and the boots the girl is wearing. It's just so quirky and cool.
Review copy provided by publisher.