“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” by Emily Danforth: YA Book Review
What’s the Big Deal?
Published in 2012 as Emily Danforth’s debut novel and released as a movie in 2018, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an eye-opening must-read for mature teens and young adults looking to expand their horizons. The novel, which was written by a queer Montana author who grew up hiding her identity, drips with authenticity, creating a captivating tale worthy of the movie and reviews it garnered.
It’s the early 90’s in rural Miles City, Montana. Cameron Post is a 12-year-old stealing gum and enjoying life with her friend Irene Klauson, when Irene’s parents get the phone call that will change Cameron’s life. The news? Cameron’s parents have died, leaving her an orphan in her grandmother and aunt’s care.
Cameron concludes that the accident must have been God’s punishment for having been kissing Irene mere hours earlier. She feels guilty, but this doesn’t stop her from doing the same with more girls as she grows up. Learning the details of homosexuality with movie rentals and her swimming friend Lindsey, Cameron comes to terms with her identity and learns to manage it. But when she falls for the cute cowgirl Coley Taylor, Cameron is found out, and sent by order of her aunt to a Christian conversion camp: God’s Promise.
At the camp, Cameron is taught how to “manage her sinful behavior” with the help of the Christian-but-cool Reverend Rick and his aunt, the ice-cold Lydia. She makes friends even in this dark place and experiences life from the extremely religious lens that’s forced upon her, but that doesn’t mean she changes. Because Cameron Post knows who she is, and refuses to compromise that. By the end of the book, Cameron escapes God’s Promise with her unlikely new friends, and she does so in the hopes of finding someplace she can truly be that person.
Author: Emily M. Danforth
Genre: Young adult, coming-of-age fiction
Rating: 4/5 Goodreads, 5/5 Common Sense Media
Release Date: February 7, 2012
To Read or Not to Read?
I recommend this book if:
• You’re interested in coming of age, self-discovery stories like Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
• You’re interested in seeing life through the eyes of a teenager
• You’d like a temporary escape to a place where kids have the freedom to be kids (think Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird)
• You’re looking to re-examine your beliefs on what it means to be Christian (or what it means to be homosexual)
• You’re a part of or interested in the LGBTQ community
“Everything was heightened the way it always is when summer is slipping away to fall, and you're younger than eighteen, and all you can do is suck your cherry Icee and let the chlorine sting your nose, all the way up into the pockets behind your eyes, and snap your towel at the pretty girl with the sunburn, and hope to do it all again come June.”
“The story is riveting, beautiful, and full of the kind of detail that brings to life a place (rural Montana), a time (the early 1990s), and a questioning teenage girl.” —Publishers Weekly
“The Miseducation of Cameron Post is indeed an important book—especially for teens growing up today in communities that don’t accept them for who they are. But it is also a skillfully and beautifully written story that does what the best books do: it shows us ourselves in the lives of others.” —NPR
This book would most likely be enjoyed by mature teens or young adults who are open-minded, especially if they identify as LGBTQ. The story invites empathy from this group as well as sympathy from everyone else, for Cameron and for anyone in her shoes. Combine an emotional story like this with Danforth’s riveting descriptions and scenes, and you’ve got The Miseducation—and one awed reader when it’s done.