The Miseducation of Cameron Post
by Emily Danforth
Original Publishing Date: February 7, 2012
Length: 480 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Obtained Via: Hastings
Format Read In: Paperback
View at the Traffic light:
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.
I passed over The Miseducation of Cameron Post on the shelves many times for one reason: the cover. I think the cover’s actually well-done and eye-catching, but the hay bale threw me off. I’m from Texas, ya’ll; I’ve seen enough hay and cowboys and cowgirls to last a lifetime. I don’t enjoy country stuff, and I’m often hopelessly out of place in my small town. Once I learned what The Miseducation of Cameron Post was actually about, I was intrigued enough to give it a chance when I saw the new paperback on sale.
Emily Danforth’s writing is . . . well, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not full of lyrical prose, but it’s not quite cut-and-dry either. It leaves room for possibility and took me to Miles City, Montana, despite my reservations. Her writing paints perfect pictures of hot, summer days. Some of Cameron’s description of summer reminded me of my own past summers and perhaps even inspired some nostalgia(quite a feat, really). As someone who wants to be a writer, Danforth’s writing style just gets to me in a way not many books do, and I think it’s because her writing reminds me of what my personal writing style could be at my best and most mature, most crafted. It’s the kind of writing I aspire to, and it’s not a style that works for everyone, but it just transported me so completely in the story.
I could continue gushing about the writing, but moving on: The characters. Cameron’s kind of prickly at times, and she says herself. She’s a classic deflector–make a joke, bounce the attention back to the other person, don’t let them see you crack, etc. But at the same time, I came to care so deeply for Cameron’s well-being, and not just her, but pretty much everyone in the story. I think Cameron’s Aunt Ruth–the one who has her shipped off– has a tragic and moving storyline in her own way. While her actions towards Cameron are never justified, I’m really glad Danforth didn’t paint her as a villain. She should have known better than to react the way she did, but at the same time, she really does care for Cameron, trying to make a home for her between the time of the death of Cameron’s parents and when Ruth finds out(which, despite how fast-moving the summary may make it sound, is quite awhile).
It’s actually not until the halfway point in this book where Cameron gets shipped off to essentially, “gay reform” school, where those in charge use religion to try and combat the student’s sexuality. This is also where my feelings on this book get a little more muddled. Or maybe not so much my feelings–I liked this part a lot, perhaps even more than the first half–it just brings up a lot of thoughts and issues I could easily ramble on about. So I will say that it’s obvious Danforth took care when writing her book; it’s hard to outright hate any of the characters(even if it’s sometimes hard to outright like any of them either). Even those in charge at the school really do mean well–they’re not malicious. The characters Cameron meets at the school really round out the book, though I wish a few of them had been explored more. At times this part of the book broke my heart–but I think I followed Cameron’s journey emotionally, which is always a compliment to the writer.
The ending of the book is fitting and I don’t think there necessarily SHOULD have been more, but I have to say that I did WANT more. There’s still a lot up in the air as far as Cameron’s fate in the end, but after reading through so much of her life, I have faith that she survived just fine. Ultimately, why it would have been nice to get some closure, I understand why things ended the way they did.
Final Impression: The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a very different book, but I loved it apart from some incredibly minor things. This book explores so much of Cameron’s life, and it took me back to southern summers of childhood(not that I’m that far removed from them). Danforth’s writing is breath-taking and the way I hope to write someday. Cameron may not always be likable, but her story grabbed my heart, and I’m very glad to have read this book. It’s the type of book that can stay with you for awhile. 4/5 cupcakes.
You can buy The Miseducation of Cameron Post on Amazon.