Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth

When Cameron Post's parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they'll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn't last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship--one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious 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.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules. (blurb from Goodreads)

Rating: PG-13, 4 stars
Trigger Warnings: homophobia, ex-gay camp, familial death, drugs, transphobia, sexual content

This was another one of the books that I read while at Plum Village monastery, and like Wildthorn, it eerily paralleled my experiences...must be something about following a more rigid schedule (if you can call a mindful, monastic schedule rigid) while reading about someone following a rigid schedule.

Like Ash, I feel like the blurb to this book was slightly misleading. I expected the majority of the book to take place at the pray-the-gay-away camp and for the book to have a much darker tone overall. I was pleasantly surprised at the lighter tone of the novel and at the depth of the characters. I did not expect to see Cameron struggle so much with her identity or with the death of her parents, and I’m glad she did. It’s refreshing to see a novel with a gay protagonist who struggles not with coming out, but accepting her identity and coming to terms with how that will affect those around her in both positive and negative terms. It was also nice to see that the main focus of the novel was not a romance. There were some flings throughout the course of the novel, but they absolutely were not the main plot.

Given that this is essentially a book about a lesbian teenager in the 80s subverting her aunt’s conservative Christian culture, I wasn’t surprised at the swearing and drug content, but some might be bothered by it. Nothing stronger than marijuana is ever used in the book, but there is swearing left and right, as you might expect from the rural Montana setting. There are also some rather sexual dream scenes that culminate in a non-dream sexual scene.

All in all, this was a really pleasant read full of realism and well-developed characters. The Miseducation of Cameron Post does an excellent job of dealing with some heavy topics while still remaining a moderately light-hearted novel. I recommend it for fans of contemporary YA, (recent) historical YA, and gay protagonists/sexual identity novels.

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