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The Miseducation of Cameron Post Hardcover – February 7, 2012
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*Starred Review* It begins with a preadolescent kiss between protagonist Cameron and her friend, Irene. The very next day Cameron’s parents die in an automobile accident, and the young girl is left riddled with guilt, feeling her forbidden kiss was somehow responsible for the accident. This is an old convention of GLBT literature, but freshly handled here and given sophisticated thematic weight. As Cameron grows into her teenage years, she recognizes that she is a lesbian. After several emotional misadventures, she meets and falls in love with the beautiful Coley, who appears to be bisexual. Both girls attend the same fundamentalist church, and when Cameron’s conservative Aunt Ruth discovers the affair, she remands Cameron to God’s Promise, a church camp that promises to “cure” young people of their homosexuality. Such “religious conversion therapy” is rooted in reality, and Cam’s experiences at the camp are at the heart of this ambitious literary novel, a multidimensional coming-of-age reminiscent of Aidan Chambers’ equally ambitious This Is All (2006). There is nothing superficial or simplistic here, and Danforth carefully and deliberately fleshes out Cam’s character and those of her family and friends. Even the eastern Montana setting is vividly realized and provides a wonderfully apposite background for the story of Cam’s miseducation and the challenges her stint in the church camp pose to her development as a mature teenager finding friendship and a plausible future. Grades 9-12. --Michael Cart
★ “Rich with detail and emotion, a sophisticated read for teens and adults alike.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
★ “[An] ambitious literary novel, a multidimensional coming-of-age.” (Booklist (starred review))
★ “The story is riveting, beautiful, and full of the kind of detail that brings to life a place (rural Montana), a time (the early 1990s), and a questioning teenage girl.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
★ “This finely crafted, sophisticated coming-of-age debut novel is multilayered, finessing such issues as loss, first love, and friendship. An excellent read for both teens and adults.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“Cameron is a memorable heroine with an unforgettable and important story to tell, and she does so with wit, emotion, and depth.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“If Holden Caulfield had been a gay girl from Montana, this is the story he might have told—it’s funny, heartbreaking, and beautifully rendered. Emily Danforth remembers exactly what it’s like to be a teenager, and she has written a new classic.” (Curtis Sittenfeld, bestselling author of PREP and AMERICAN WIFE)
“A beautifully told story that is at once engaging and thoughtful. THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST is an important book—one that can change lives. ” (Jacqueline Woodson, award-winning author of AFTER TUPAC AND D FOSTER and HUSH)
“This novel is a joy—one of the best and most honest portraits of a young lesbian I’ve read in years. Cameron Post is a bright, brash, funny main character who leaps off the page and into your heart! This is a story that keeps you reading way into the night—an absorbing, suspenseful, and important book.” (Nancy Garden, author of ANNIE ON MY MIND)
“Danforth’s narrative of a bruised young woman finding her feet in a complicated world is a tremendous achievement: strikingly unsentimental, and full of characters who feel entirely rounded and real. A story of love, desire, pain, loss—and, above all, of survival. An inspiring read.” (Sarah Waters, author of THE LITTLE STRANGER)
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I have personally never read an LGBTQ novel before so I was apprehensive. I read the back and one of the first things it states is that her parents die when hours earlier she was kissing a girl. I hadn’t even cracked open the front cover and immediately the plot already had a twist. This book was already intimidating being almost 500 pages. However, once I started reading it, it was hard to put down. I took this book everywhere with me as I followed Cameron Post through her trials and tribulations of trying to be a lesbian who was also a part of the youth group in a conservative town until her eventual “punishment” of being sent away to a gay-away camp.
Danforth’s descriptions of the setting and characters really contribute to a visual and sensory experience for the reader. You will feel like you are right there with Cameron Post. What did disappoint me is the lack of closure between the characters and the ending. I wish we had found out what happened to Irene – Cameron’s first kiss – and Coley – Cameron’s first sexual experiences. We see the journey Cameron goes through only to be robbed of what happened to the girls who put her in compromising situations. I did enjoy Cameron’s inner conflicts about her sexuality and realizing that boys – Jamie – aren’t for her. It gave such a great perspective on homosexuality and coming out. The end just felt like a dead end, I won’t spoil it, but it feels stagnant rather than satisfying. You’ll have to see for yourself.
I recommend this book to any and everyone in the end. Prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster. I also recommend you carry a box of tissues with you for the darker moments in the book and try not to punch any walls when it feels like all the odds are against Cameron. The author should truly be praised for writing such a thought provoking and moving piece of literature.
Intersectional, nuanced, realistic, poetic, crisp, and beautifully written, this book has it all. I have too many feelings to criticise it right now, though a hint of Cameron 's future would have been nice. I guess maybe the author could have been harsher on the evangelicals, but the book has a focus on compassion.
Wise and pure and wonderful, this is perfect for anyone trying to understand queer people or teenagers, or even just find something good in life or themselves. It also beats the daylights out of John Green's work. There are no cheap jokes or held punches here: just art, truth, and beauty.
From the booklist review, anyone reading this should know at least the major plot points, but I apologize in advance if this review contains any spoilers.
The book starts off with a punch to the gut, and immediately drags you into the rich and compelling story of Cameron Post. The night Cam kisses her best friend for the first time, her parents are killed in an accident. Understandably, Cam links those two events in her mind and is wracked with guilt and shame over her attraction to other girls, and tries to suppress it, but she can't. When she and her best friend fall in love, they are able to keep their relationship a secret until being discovered by the best friend's brother. Cam's Aunt Ruth then ships her off to a religious conversion camp to "pray away the gay".
Cam's story is one of love, loss, confusion, religion, and healing, all bundled together. Danforth has a compelling way of weaving words that draws you in and creates an impact on the reader. The realities of growing up LGBT in a strict religious family are well fleshed out in the novel, through Cam's relationship with Aunt Ruth and the leaders and counselors at the conversion camp Promise, as well as in Cam's own internal struggle between what her fundamentalist religious community tells her and what she knows to be true.
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