on 27 January 2013
I rather love this kind of book. It fits very nicely into my little collection of teen books that are about homosexuality, coming out, etc. but aren't preachy at all - I think this book being preachy would defeat the point a little. In short, 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' is a coming of age story that follows Cameron from childhood to the end of her teen years and all of the trials her life throws at her in those years. It isn't just Cameron's story of growing up, it's the story of the first chapter of Cameron's life, and it's about far more than just her sexuality - a trap a lot of books in this genre fall into.
Cameron is a lesbian. She realises this pretty quickly, initially struggles with it but comes to terms with it - unlike everyone else around her with a few key exceptions. Her sexuality isn't played as her key trait; it's just one aspect of her personality that comes through, again unlike a few texts in this genre where the character is pretty much nothing but gay, and as a result becomes a rather unfortunate stereotype. In fact, none of the characters are really stereotypes, from Irene the childhood best friend who becomes pretty much the polar opposite of Cameron, up to the Reverend Rick, who could so easily have become an uncaring, unfeeling and irredeemable man but instead is portrayed sympathetically. The characters are really what makes the story what it is. Their actions made me tear up a few times - Jamie's reaction to Cameron's sexuality and the poignancy of Mark's actions at Promise really hit home. No character (with one exception) is pure evil. Aunt Ruth really does believe that Cameron is going to hell and wants the best for her, but goes about it in entirely the wrong way. Reverend Rick is honestly trying to save these childrens' souls, but doesn't seem to realise what he's doing is hurting them in the process. Even Coley, the person responsible for Cameron being sent to Promise, isn't evil - just scared. The only exception is Lydia, who is irredeemable.
The plot itself is very believable. My location is very far removed from Montana, but I could really connect with the events in the story despite the differences. The story is mostly set in the early 1990's, so it can almost be read as a historical piece. It's interesting to look back about twenty years and see how far our attitudes have changed (or not). The writing isn't exactly Jane Austen, but it's good enough and easily readable.
The book made me grateful for my parents, my town and my friends and how much the accept me. Definitely recommended.
on 22 November 2014
Although I'm not usually a fan of contemporary fiction, I'm really glad that I read this novel. I honestly think that it's the best one that I've had the pleasure of reviewing so far and would recommend it to everyone over the age of fourteen. While I can see why some people think that it is a bit slow, for me it never dragged. As I think back over it now, there is not a thing I would have cut out. The tiny details helped to build a realistic world for me, making me feel as though I was actually there.
Although the story is enthralling, it really is more of a character study of Cameron herself. She is a brilliant protagonist - witty, intelligent and honest with herself. I grew attached to her very quickly and found myself turning the pages to find out what happened to her, purely because I wanted everything to end well for her.
Some of the most interesting food for thought comes from the smallest details. The centrepiece of Cam’s dolls house reoccurs again and again, giving constant insight into her state of mind at different moments. The reactions that different characters have towards Cameron’s sexuality also create a kind of microcosm of how society on a whole viewed gay people in the early 90s. These range quite wildly, from the very modern attitudes of Lindsey and her friends in Seattle to the terrifying Old Testament views of Mark’s father. While Cameron has always felt isolated in her small and very Christian community, when she finally meets people who are more open minded she begins to find her sense of self.
All in all, the biggest disappointment for me was that the story had to end. While I do like the climax because it really felt as though Cam's character had come full circle, I really want to know what happened to her next and how her decisions in the last act affected the other people in her life. It's certainly left me lots to mull over!
on 30 June 2012
This is an excellent coming-of-age novel about love, loss, grief, blame, infatuation and infuriating bigotry. This book taught me that love is love, whatever your orientation. This is an important novel and I have been enriched from the reading experience.
on 24 November 2015
Cameron is a 12 year old girl who lives in rural Montana. She is young and has her whole life ahead of hear being carefree and doing all kinds of mischiffs that young kids do. One day she and her best friend Irene are hanging out when Irene dares Cameron to kiss her. Soon after that, Cameron's parents get in a car accident and both of them die leaving her feeling guilty for their deaths and attributing it to her kissing Irene and liking it. And from then on starts her journey of growing and finding and accepting herself.
I would have given this book 4 stars if it wasn't for the ending which I personally did not find fitting to the rest of the novel. What I really liked about this book was the rawness of the emotions and pictures that Danforth was crafting. It made me feel sad and sorry for Cameron but also entertained and impressed by certain aspects of her personality. For me, this book had ups and downs. Very interesting bits where the story was flowing and others where the story was just filling up the gas tank to be able to run some more later (wow, what a metaphore!). I also felt like the beginning of the story and the end of the story were so far away from each other in terms of the story. I guess that means that there is a lot of character development and growth happening in this novel. Some people say it is too long, but I personally enjoyed this journey all the way until the ending messed it up for me. It's unbelievable that this is a debut novel. I would definitely read emily m. danforth again. I enjoyed this book very much.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who reads LGBTQIA literature or YA literature.
on 11 April 2014
This is a book that I find somewhat out-of-place in YA, mostly because while reading it, I couldn't help but think of it as literary fiction. Maybe that's a bad thing to say, as though I'm discrediting all other Young Adult books or something. I'm not. It's just this book had a more complex, multilayered, adult feel to it. It reminded me of those old classics you get made to read at school and, somehow, end up falling in love with.
To quote my pal Logan Echolls, this book was "epic, spanning years and continents". Well, maybe not continents. But it does follow Cameron's life from a child to a young adult, chronicling the important events that led her to where she was. And that made her who she is.
It's rich with detail so absurdly vivid, and character-driven in a way I've never read before. This book is about Cameron and her journey and nothing else. And it doesn't need to be about anything else, because her story is spectacular and engrossing enough all on its own.
Cameron didn't fall into any stereotypes and reading her authentic, honest and strong narrative was an amazing experience. She's witty, funny, brave, and doesn't shy away from who she is. She embraces her self as much as anyone living in Miles City, Montana can in the 90s.
This is a girl who wants to feel and connect and be a part of something bigger; someone who doesn't hold back. I loved Cameron for that. When I thought she should say something, or that she should tell someone to shove it, she did just that. When I thought she should be brave and put herself out there, she did just that.
Cameron isn't a character that'll make you tear your hair out with frustration, at her inability to act. Instead, Danforth crafts someone who is brave and bold in so many ways, yet also fragile and extremely sympathetic in so many others. If she wasn't busy getting high so much, Cam and I would be pals.
There's also a lot of retrospect in this book, and every now and again we hear Cameron's adult voice coming through, reflecting on how things may have been different if she'd done this instead of that. I really enjoyed those small, carefully-placed sentences, and they made me optimistic about the person Cameron would be become.
I also loved the hope the end gave. There was a promise of some old faces and the possibilities those reunions could hold, and of Cameron finally coming to terms with some old ghosts.
This is a book that captures the innocence of childhood, the despair of grief, the heartbreak of first love, and the promise of a better tomorrow. Danforth writes miraculously soothing prose, at one moment filled with a rare beauty and stillness, and another with brassiness and sarcasm.
I won't say more about where the story leads, or how everything comes together, but I will say that reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post was a fantastic experience. The pages in this book simply demand to be turned.
Favourite quote: "I couldn't ever make that dream happen. It just came on its own, the way dreams do."
Overall rating: 5/5 little birdies
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on 21 July 2013
On the day Cameron finds herself kissing a girl, her parents die. From that day on, her whole world changes. Living with her grandmother and her very religious aunt, she is brought up with certain ideas about homosexuality; Cam questions what she feels and what she's told, worrying that her parents died as punishment for her "sin". But the various people she meets along the way and the numerous movies she secretly watches tell her a different story. Cam tries to keep her relationships secret, but nothing stays secret for ever.
Oh my god, this book is so awesome, it really shows us the views from just over two decades ago - only two decades! - and most of it made me so angry! Seriously, there are some characters in this book I really don't get. Even when their views are explained with the Bible, it just makes me so sick! But more on that later.
What's great about Cameron Post is that we get to see Cam from the age of 11, almost 12, until she's 16. We get to see her first experiences with another girl from such a young age, and then see her grow, see her mature - in the way she thinks, in the way she speaks. This story is about Cam discovering and exploring her sexuality, and what the consequences of doing so are, but the death of her parents is intertwined. As much as this is a story about sexuality, it's mainly about Cam herself. Cam discovering she's a lesbian, Cam dealing with the death of her parents when she's reminded, when the event creeps back up on her. These two, huge, important things to Cam get linked for her in certain moments, like her belief that her parents died because she kissed a girl, the blame she feels. The reaction of her aunt and grandmother when the truth is finally discovered make her think about how her parents may have reacted if they were around. But they're not, so she'll never know, never know if she would have to go through with them what she is going through now. And questions from others crop up; would she "sin" like she does if her parents had raised her differently? If her parents hadn't died and she didn't "run away" from dealing with that by taking part in "sinful activities"? It's like there is a correlation between the two simply because they are forced together so often.
There are so many quotes I want to share with you, but there are just too many. I narrowed it down to the points I really want to discuss. The two different ideas that come across. The first is from Lindsey, a girl who Cam has a summer relationship with. She's a character who has thrown herself right into what homosexuality is, means, on a wider scale.
Lindsey is a lesbian, but it seems more like *who* she is, rather than just an aspect of herself. Like it's an attitude, a whole lifestyle. And she knows her stuff. She has all these opinions and knows all these things going on in the world and is so pro-active in the LGBT community. Lindsey does come across a bit patronising with her know-it-all nature, but it's refreshing to have such a voice in the book, when almost all over views are that it is wrong, wrong, wrong. With both opposing sides, you can understand how Cam would be so confused over what is right and wrong, what to believe in, what to hope for.
There is so much more I want to discuss about this book, but I would be spoiling such a huge section of the book that is best discovered as you read. Speaking of which, if you visit Danforth's website (link, as always, below), I would advise not reading the reviews on there until you have finished the book. I had something huge spoiled for me by reading one of the quotes on there, and it really wound me up. Fortunately, I was only a few pages off it all kicking in, but still.
If I was to give this book any criticism, it would be... I'm not really sure what to call it. It took me weeks, weeks, like three or four, to read this book, and that's not down to the length. I was seriously loving this book when I was reading it, but once I put it down, for dinner, etc., I didn't want to pick it back up. It was hard. I had to force myself to pick it up several times. I just wasn't motivated to read it. I don't know if it's this book or if I was in a reading slump or what, but I had a real tough time getting through it. But this is probably, hopefully, just my personal experience.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an incredible coming-of-age novel that takes an awesome look at one girl's self-discovery, coming into her own. Now I've finished it, I can say for certain that I absolutely loved it! It's one hell of a powerful story, and I highly recommend it!
on 13 November 2013
"The day my parents died I was out shoplifting with Irene Klauson."
What an opening! The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a wonderful coming of age story, set in rural America in the recent past (think VHS/cassette recent). It follows Cameron Post, whose parents die the day she first kisses a girl, throughout her teens and coming-out.
Well written, with charming, cleverly realised characters, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an absolute gem of a book. Well above the level of many teen coming out books, and an instant recommendation.
on 30 October 2013
Cameron's world changes forever when her parents died in a car accident the same day she kisses a girl for the first time. Atmospheric, beautifully written, I couldn't put this book down. It has all the charm and sadness of a John Waters teen movie, plus a nice back to the beginning ending and overall theme. Montana, more than the setting, becomes another character. All the main characters feel real and human, even the "bad guys" from Cam's point of view are never just demonised or black and white. The powerlessness she experiences with her parents death becomes even more acute with her internment in the "degaying" camp, which is nothing but a dystopia of feelings.
on 7 March 2015
I absolutely adored this book! It's a very well told story and I identified a lot with the main character- it was very easy to read and made you feel caught up in the story. Weirdly, reading from a cold rainy bus journey in England I felt almost like I was out in the mid-day heat in the middle of summer in America. I would definitely reccomend this to anyone looking to read a good book with a lesbian main character although the main focus isn't the romance element but the story of her herself. I don't want to leave spoilers, but parts of it made me laugh out loud and other parts made me cry on public transport, so you know, thanks for that. 10/10 would reccomend.
on 14 August 2014
This is a beautiful book. It really grasps the joy and angst of growing up and discovering your sexuality, and finding hope in the absolute worst case scenario of coming out.
I love characters that I can relate to, and I could really relate to Cam- I found her funny and vivid, especially when talking about acting out the comedian to try and attract the attention of girls.
It was a very believable journey with no neatly tied up ending, and I will look out for what danforth writes next!
Review posted at lgbt-ya.tumblr.com