Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 480
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief she’ll never have to tell them that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.
But that relief soon turns to heartbreak, as Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and not making waves, and Cam becomes an expert at this—especially at avoiding any questions about her sexuality.
Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. To Cam’s surprise, she and Coley become best friends—while Cam secretly dreams of something more. Just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, her secret is exposed. 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 quite 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.

For Emily Danforth’s debut, the cover was enough to catch my attention, but I was also intrigued by the premise. Cameron Post’s parents died while she was busy kissing her best female friend, creating feelings of guilt mixed in with grief that continue throughout her adolescence. When she moves in with her conservative aunt and old fashioned grandmother, Cameron just avoids discussing her sexuality. She has various encounters with a variety of people, both male and female, but no one affects her quite like the popular Coley Taylor. Just as her feelings for Coley come to a head, Cameron is sent away by her conservative aunt in an attempt to reverse her homosexuality. While away, Cameron has to deal with people trying to “fix” her and make her deal with all of her feelings--not just her attraction to girls.
Woah. Heaviosity, dude. The issues involved in this book ran from grief to betrayal to being a lesbian in a small, religious community. It’s a coming of age story in which the heroine doesn’t seem to fit in with anyone for the majority of the book--she’s in love with her straight best friend, which makes for a situation that is less than fully comfortable.
I found Cameron Post to be an incredibly well developed character, though maybe a bit out of reach for the reader. I especially enjoyed the kleptomania for the dollhouse--it was the way Cameron remained connected to her parents and I thought it was something totally different.
Although Cameron Post spends the duration of this book as a preteen and teenager, I felt that it read more like an adult book than a young adult book. I felt that Cameron showed an interesting sense of maturity that made her feel more detached than other YA protagonists. I attributed this to the deaths of her parents at such a young age and dealing with homosexuality in a small, conservative town. I was quite concerned about Cameron while reading this one.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post was a well written young adult work of literary fiction about a girl trying to grow up with a heavy dose of guilt and isolation. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but if you enjoy more literary works, definitely check it out.

Rating: 4 - good.

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