Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Author: Emily M. Danforth
Category: YA Contemporary (LGBTQIAP+)
Publisher/Date: Balzer + Bray/7 February 2012
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.
This book has content warnings for homomisia, conversion camps, abuse of minors, ableism, self harm (brief but graphic imagery), familial death, a car crash, drugs, and sexual content.
I understand why this is an important book and it has a lot going for it, but there were a lot of things about the book that really put me off. Starting with the positives, I really appreciated the authenticity that I felt from the depiction of the conversion camp and the different perspectives that come from places like that. Conversion camps are incredibly manipulative and scary, and I felt that both the abuse taking place there and the either conceding or rebelling from the program felt real to me. This is a perspective that we really need in the world, and for that I really appreciate it.
With that being said, there were several things I didn’t like about the book. I didn’t like Cameron as a character very much because I didn’t feel like I got a good sense of her as a person; I felt that throughout the entire book I was watching her react to things, kind of, but she wasn’t doing much of anything herself. The only time she didn’t feel completely passive was when she started yelling at her aunt, and she did that to get a reaction out of her. Her emotions were so muted that I really couldn’t get myself to identify with her at all, and that made it difficult for me to care about her personally. I was invested enough to want her to get out of the conversion camp because that place is awful, and that was about it.
The pacing of this book was also extremely slow, and it frustrated me. This might have been because the voice of the book felt so bland to me and so it felt like it was dragging on for a while, but it seemed like a lot of this book could have been cut out without doing much to the story.
One other thing that really bothered me was the presence of a disabled character who had a prosthetic leg; the only purpose she served was to hide drugs within her prosthesis at the camp, and this felt really uncomfortable to me because this was the only physical disability rep we got in this book and it wasn’t great. I don’t really know anything else about that character except she used her disability to hide and sell drugs at the camp. Not great.
I had a hard time rating this book because I do think it’s important, but it also really wasn’t the book for me. I recommend reading it because of its importance, but it’s not something I’d want to read again because it’s a bit boring and monotone.
Final rating: 3.5 of 5 stars