Wednesday, March 21, 2018

[Book Review] The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

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 have wanted to read this book for such a long time and I finally got around to requesting it from my local library and I am really happy I did. This was a really heartbreaking, heartwarming, and a very relatable story. 

The characters were really great. I loved Cameron and I really felt for her. While dealing with her sexuality she's also dealing being the girl who's parents both died. I think it is really easy to put yourself in Cameron's shoes because of how authentic her character is written. At times Cameron's story feels almost autobiographical (which it is, kind of. The author took from her experiences and experiences of people she met when researching) and it makes it both easier and harder to read what Cameron goes through. I found Cameron to be so brave. She isn't out as a gay woman but she lets herself experiment and she is really fearless at times which I respected. Also, I love her friends, Jane Fonda and Adam Red Eagle. Cameron's interactions with Adam were both super touching and hilarious at times. I loved their banter and bickering and how close they became. I also love Adam's sexuality being a bit ambigious, considering it's the early 90's and he is only a teen so he is still trying to figure out where he falls on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. I also enjoyed Cameron's interactions with her grandmother and aunt and even Reverend Rick at times. The antagonists in this story are not evil and they honestly feel like what they're doing is good. So although at times I did feel anger and maybe even hatred towards them the author does a great job at making the reader see that they don't think they're being emotionally abusive even if they are indeed being abusive. However, there are two characters I cannot help but hate (or at least feel very strong negative feelings for) that I feel like would be spoilers if I explicitly said.

This is a slow story and it definitely felt slow at times. The first 150 pages or so felt the slowest for me and I had to push myself to keep reading. I knew if I put it down I may not pick it back up, so although I think it's an important book to read I also think it's important to know that the pacing can be slow in the beginning. I don't think that is a negative thing, a lot of great books are slower paced, but I think when you go into it thinking it'll be a quick contemporary story you may be a bit disappointed. I had just read a very fast paced adventure fantasy novel so I went into this thinking it would be fast too but it wasn't and I had to get used to the new speed.

The writing is beautiful. I felt moved and cried often while reading (once while sitting in the dentist chair waiting for them to make me a crown, which was a bit embarrassing, whoops) because of Cameron's inner dialogue and even the dialogue she has with her family and friends. She just wants to figure out who she is, go to school, swim, kiss pretty girls, and she is being labeled a bad influence and someone to avoid. I felt for her. I think other young queer women and non-binary readers who read this book will at some level relate to Cameron. And I think we need more lesbian/bi stories where women are the main characters because they are few and far between. The criticisms I have read about this book so far seem to be that it's too long for a YA contemporary story and that it drags on. Maybe there is some merit in those criticisms, but for me I think it is worth it in the end. Despite the length and how much it dragged on, I honestly was bummed by the ending because I wanted more. From what I have read the author had written double what the book ended up being and she said she would consider releasing the rest one day. I hope she does because I want to know more of Cameron's story. So I think this is one of those books where opinions will be drastically different depending on the readers differences and how well they connect with the characters and the story. I would have easily read hundreds of pages more for a more satisfying ending because I was invested in Cameron.

I highly recommend this novel. I think it's such an important one and needs to be read by everyone. I am kicking myself for taking so long to finally read it. 

Thanks for reading!

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