Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

When Cameron Post's parents died unexpectedly in a car crash, she is forced to live under the guardianship of her grandmother and ultra-religious aunt.  At first, Cameron is convinced that God killed her parents because it was that very day that she kissed a girl - and she liked it.  As Cameron grieves for her parents and adjusts to her new life, she continues to explore her sexuality, dating boys and forming a secret romance with a rival swimmer.  Then Coley Taylor comes to town and Cameron is instantly smitten.  Coley is beautiful and popular. And straight. The two become the best of friends, but it all falls apart after their secret makeout sessions are found out.  Coley paints Cameron as a predatory lesbian and Cameron's aunt sends her off to "God's Promise" for religious conversion therapy.

This is not just another story about an LGBT teen coming to terms with her sexuality.  Set against the backdrop of small-town Montana in the nineties, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is coming-of-age novel with a strong sense of time and place.  Cameron's music taste, her wardrobe, hairstyle, and way of talking all build consistently on the setting.  Cameron's character is so richly drawn that more then feeling for her, as you read, you feel with her.  Cameron's confusion and pain, her sarcasm and joy, become your own.  And her dollhouse!  Her secret special place in a life of secrets.  As in life, there are questions that linger at the novel's close.  There is no storybook ending.  You wish for additional chapters to take you through her next phase in life, but with an understanding that the novel was meant to end where and how it did, and that it's more rewarding to imagine Cameron's future in your own mind.  Debut novelist Emily M. Danforth has set a high bar for future work and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.  This is one of the best books I've read this year.  I kindly suggested it for consideration for YALSA's Morris Award, though I imagine the committee was considering it already.

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