The Miseducation of Cameron Post: Growing Up a Lesbian in Rural Montana
When she was 12 years old, Cameron Post's parents were both killed in a car crash. But when she was told this, all Cameron could feel was relief that they died not knowing that the previous day, Cameron had been kissing her best friend Irene. But that relief soon turns to guilt, and Cameron finds herself retreating into obsessively watching movies as she begins to be looked after by her aunt Ruth, a cheery woman who has recently become a born-again Christian and would like Cameron to do the same.
Flashing forward a few years, Cameron has managed to find a fairly stable routine. But that is upended when she falls madly and entirely in love with Coley Taylor, a beautiful young rancher's daughter at her school. And, to her surprise, Cameron discovers that Coley may not be entirely opposed to that....
But when the consequences of Cameron's actions catch up to her, she is sent to a special school to "help" those with homosexuality. There Cameron and her new friends Adam and Jane will need to be very clever in order to escape from the oppressive environment and live their lives.
I am really impressed that this is the first book by new author Emily Danforth. She is an excellent writer, which especially comes out in the middle section of this book where Cameron is pining for Coley whilst living her life in rural Miles City, Montana. Danforth lovingly describes everything about Miles City in a way that makes you see it clearly. I felt like I had lived Cameron's life, despite not being gay, female, or from eastern Montana.
Similarly, I was actually legitimately surprised to learn that Danforth was not writing from personal experience when she wrote about the ex-gay school. All of the little details of how the place was run, how people there acted, and the sort of things it did to the students rang true, like Danforth was writing from experience. It just goes to show what a powerful writer Danforth is.
Danforth is also quite good at humanizing characters. Even Cameron's evangelical aunt and the reverend who runs the school to "help" gay teens appear sympathetic and understandable in their motivations. However, Danforth makes it clear that she does not condone their actions, and a shocking twist towards the end of the book makes it clear the sort of damage organizations like the ex-gay school can do. It takes real skill to make someone simultaneously entirely sympathetic and understandable, and also fundamentally and dangerously wrong, but Emily Danforth pulls it off effortlessly.
This is the sort of book where when I finished it I was desperate for there to be more. Danforth is so good at crafting characters and descriptions that I am impatient for her next book, whenever it will be written. One can only hope it will be as good as this one was.
All in all, if you are a big fan of LGBT teen narratives, this is an excellent one to check out. Definitely go looking for it if you'd like a beautifully written and fascinating story.