The Compulsive Reader: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Cameron Post lives in the tiny town of Miles City, Montana--not the most understanding place to grow up if you're secretly gay. Cameron's family certainly have no idea about her sexuality--her parents died not long after her first kiss, and she's been keeping that part of her life a secret from her grandmother and aunt. But liking girls is something that Cameron struggles to hide, especially when she befriends Coley Taylor. And when her aunt Ruth finds out, it's not something that she can accept, so she tries to fix Cameron by sending her to a special school in an attempt to "de-gay" her. But even if she doesn’t really know who she is yet, Cameron knows that liking girls isn’t something that she can be schooled out of, no matter how much her family or anyone else tries to convince her otherwise.

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.


Shanyn said...

Yay I'm glad you read this one!! I loved Danforth's writing.

Ellis Nelson said...

Certainly a worthy topic. Sounds like it was handled very well.

Mary Preston said...

I'm intrigued. What a fascinating approach to the subject.

Love the cover too.

The Compulsive Reader said...

Shanyn: The writing was good! I loved the literary quality. It was a little long, but I flew through it!

Anonymous said...

The book is too lengthy and I find myself frustrated at how Cameron and Coley's relationship wasn't very deep or meaningful. Also, the overuse of drugs took away any seriousness, thus the things that happened after getting high did not mean anything. I feel as if Cameron did not really love Coley, or Linsey.

The Compulsive Reader said...

Anonymous: Hm, I'm not sure if I agree with the fact that Cameron didn't love Coley or Lindsay. I think that Cameron was very confused and didn't always act maturely and so her relationships never really could become deep or meaningful--they didn't have the communication. Whether or not that means Cameron didn't love them...well, I'd have to think about it.

I do agree that this was a lengthy one, and there is a lot of drug use--I could have done without so much of it, but I guess that's just a matter of personal taste.