Set in rural Montana in the early 1990s, emily m. danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a powerful and widely acclaimed YA coming-of-age novel in the tradition of the classic Annie on My Mind.
Cameron Post feels a mix of guilt and relief when her parents die in a car accident. Their deaths mean they will never learn the truth she eventually comes to—that she’s gay. Orphaned, Cameron comes to live with her old-fashioned grandmother and ultraconservative aunt Ruth. There she falls in love with her best friend, a beautiful cowgirl. When she’s eventually outed, her aunt sends her to God’s Promise, a religious conversion camp that is supposed to “cure” her homosexuality. At the camp, Cameron comes face to face with the cost of denying her true identity.
Rating: 5 stars
Do you ever read a book and just know that it’s going to stick with you for a while? This was definitely one of those for me. I really wish that I had come across this much sooner in my life because I think that a book like this can really change things for people. Maybe that makes no sense if you haven’t read it, but maybe that will also encourage you to read it, so I’m going to stand by it.
I personally do not think that the synopsis of this story does it any justice. It makes the story sound quite a bit different than it actually is. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “coming of age” story because not everyone can relate to this while growing up. Instead, I might would call it a “coming of own” story, because it’s really about learning who you are and what you want. Cameron’s story is really powerful in a very nonchalant and subtle way. It’s a story that a lot of youth can relate to in more ways than one.
The story itself builds gradually. The book is almost 500 pages but you cover a lot in those pages, and the reader really gets to see Cameron grow. The story truly never felt too slow or too fast, but instead felt timed and paced perfectly to make sure that I got everything out of each time frame that was important enough to know. I guess what I mean is, there was never anything unnecessary in the story. The author really makes you feel like every single thing is important, and I mean… it is, because it’s someone life. As readers, we watch Cameron go from a confused, curious twelve year old to a teenager who has learned who she is, albeit still being confused (just not necessarily about the same things). I found it really enticing that the author didn’t sugarcoat anything in this story. It was very raw and while not always necessary tactful, it made it feel like you could actually be apart of the moment. Homosexuality VS. religion is such a big part of this book that I was afraid it may not all be handled in the best manner, but I am truly impressed.
The characters are not all lovable but all familiar. There were no exaggerated tropes added in to make a character feel super relatable. There’s basically no way that you can relate to everyone in this story, but you can feel like you know these people, because there’s one of each in everyone’s life. Most everyone has a Ruth and a Coley and a Jamie. You feel like you are a part of Cameron’s life because it reads like real life. Not all stories can capture a town like Montana and its sly righteousness from the 80s, but this one sure can.
Sometimes, when I like a book this much, it’s hard to really put into words why. Because sometimes, a book goes far beyond it’s own logistics (the writing, the timing, the setting) and just touches your soul in a really good way and you know it’s something you needed to read. This was like that for me.