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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Author: Emily M. Danforth
Pages: 470
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Signing at BEA

Description from Goodreads:
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.

First Sentence: "The afternoon my parents died, I was out shoplifting with Irene Klauson."

Alright, I can tell that this is going to be a tough review for me to write, so just bear with me. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about The Miseducation of Cameron Post, henceforth to be referred to as TMoCP. I mean, I do know that I liked it. I know that parts of it made me sad, and some made me laugh, and others made me want to throw the book across the room, all emotions that Danforth no doubt intended to elicit from me as a reader. Still, some elements of it, especially the conclusion will need to sit with me for a bit before I can really pronounce my feelings about them.

TMOCP differs greatly from any of the other lgbt ya books that I've read thus far in just how up front Danforth is about the sexual side of things. I was really surprised, since that tends to be sort of glossed over, though, to be fair, I haven't yet read a ton. Danforth does not shy away from anything, and the sexual experiences, while not graphic are definitely described clearly enough that the reader has a solid conception of what's going on. I really appreciated this frankness, especially since it fits Cameron Post's personality so well.

Speaking of Cameron, she's a marvelous character, sarcastic and with a powerful sense of self. That last may be an odd trait to attribute to her, since, through the whole book, she struggles with coming to terms both with her sexuality and her parents' death in a car accident. Despite her confusion over her feelings, she never really seems to doubt her core self, even if she's not entirely convinced how she feels about that core self. Though she questions whether her sexuality is 'right,' she never doubts her attraction to women or thinks that it isn't a part of who she is. I loved that, because so many YA heroines allow their doubts to overpower a sense of self.

Her personality, her responses to events, keep the painful portions from being too incredibly awful, because she's still the same Cameron Post. Though Cameron isn't a super chatty person, she has such a powerful voice that I just love. When backed into a corner, she tells people how it is; she confronts them with her own hypocrisy. When she goes off on someone in a long monologue, it is a thing of ranty beauty.

The other thing I just have to mention that made this book so strong for me is Danforth's descriptions of feelings. She really captures the craziness of how people, or at least women, think, the little confusions and doubts. For example, she mentions how in reaction to something, Cameron will feel sad, then feel angry at herself for being mopey, and then just feel sad again. These sometimes conflicting and spiralling strong emotions are so much how I really feel on bad days, and are so much more authentic and powerful than just saying Cameron felt sad. This same technique is displayed in the complex friendship between Cameron and Jamie, which I thought was very well handled.

At this point, you may be wondering about the relatively low rating, since all of that was rather a rave, especially for me. The book did feel a bit long, dragging in some sections, particularly most of the first hundred or so pages. Ironically, my other issue is the ending, which I thought felt rushed and unsatisfying. It's the kind of ending that doesn't tell you what happens to the characters at all, and I want to know badly. Perhaps the book had to end that way for some reason, but I'm not seeing it yet. As I said, I may need time.

Those concerns aside, I will definitely be recommending this book to pretty much anyone I can, particularly if they have interest in lgbt fiction. Though this will have meaning to only a couple of my readers, I still have to state for the record that I really wish we had read this and not Dairy Queen in our lgbt fiction week in my YA resources class in library school.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "I thought about that while he made his next calls, while I kept on with the newsletters. I thought about it during Sunday service at Word of Life, and during study hours in my room, with the Viking Erin and her squeaky pink highlighter. What it meant to really believe in something—for real. Belief. The big dictionary in the Promise library said it meant something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held conviction or opinion. But even that definition, as short and simple as it was, confused me. True or real: Those were definite words; opinion and conviction just weren't—opinions wavered and changed and fluctuated with the person, the situation. And most troubling of all was the word accepts. Something one accepts. I was much better at excepting everything than accepting anything, at least anything for certain, for definite. That much I knew. That much I believed."

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Blogger Blogger10 said...

Thanks for the review! This one sounds interesting, will add to my TBR.

September 24, 2012 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Love the first line. I like that this doesn't shy away from the gory details, I'm always looking for books that are frank and to the point and don't gloss over anything. I think I will definitely be picking this one up! Great review!

September 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Preet said...

I've been meaning to read this for some time because I've heard a lot of mixed things. I'm curious to see how the author goes into feelings. It seems slightly psychological. Great review.

September 24, 2012 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I just snaffawed (half snort, half guffaw) when I compared your assertion that you gave the book a "relatively low rating" to the rare 4/5. If I ever feel the urge to pick up a contemporary (ha!), this will probably be one of the first ones. Lovely review. :-)

September 24, 2012 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Wendy Darling said...

Your review is awesome as always, Christina. I really appreciated how frankly the author addressed Cameron's sexuality and experimentation in general. And really, you read DAIRY QUEEN for the library resource class?! That's kind of a reach--the glbt thread isn't the driving one in that book at all.

I actually do agree with your criticisms of the book. It is a rather long one, and the ending did feel rushed to me as well. But funnily enough, when I was thinking back on what I would take out if I were the editor, I couldn't think of anything! I just loved every bit of it so much.

Anyway, I'm glad you liked this one. It always makes me nervous when people read books I really love, particularly when it comes to tricky story lines.

Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

September 24, 2012 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I felt the exact same way about this book! I really liked it overall, but some parts definitely dragged. The characters and the story just seemed so authentic.

Ugh, I hated Dairy Queen! Feel my rage!

September 24, 2012 at 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anya said...

Cameron seems like a really strong mc, which is something I always look for in a book... like, someone that is strong and funny and real. Love the line about accepting/excepting, XD. Also, catchy first line. I am OBSESSED with first lines. Just saying.

Risa says that an mc needs to be relatable; someone she might like to be her best friend, although my opinions vary on that. sometimes I will drag myself through a badly plotted book just because of the heroine/hero, because they are just that good. that was how I felt about some John Green books. He writes the greatest heroines! :)

Anyway, glad you enjoyed it & I will definitely try to swing by the library to pick it up! Seems like I've been on a three-star book streak. *le sigh*

September 24, 2012 at 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Risa said...

I see that this is going to be one of those rare posts that gets a comment from both Anya and I, plus within like ten minutes of each other. Probably b/c I was on the phone with her as she typed...

I do like lgbt ya fictions. I've read a few: Empress of the World is one of the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. I saw your review for the one of the other lgbt's, Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom. Also, I'm going to read Boy meets Boy, by David Levithan. Mostly b/c it's a catchy title, to be honest.

'relatively low rating'? Pssh.
Anyway, sarcasm is wonderful in a female main character. I love funny books with funny heroines even if it's not a very funny plot. (i.e. TFIOS [The Fault In Our Stars]) Gotta love Hazel.

September 24, 2012 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

You should!

September 25, 2012 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, that was so refreshing. So many straight sex scenes are shied away from and she really went for the lesbian ones, which I had not seen before. Go, Emily Danforth!

September 25, 2012 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I meant relatively compared to all of the praise I'd been lavishing!

September 25, 2012 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

WE DID. I was so mad. We didn't read any books with openly gay confident characters and I thought it was total bullshit. In Dairy Queen, the MC even thinks of her friend as a freak for being a lesbian. UGH! I did think the bit with Coley had a bit of a Dairy Queen vibe, though, only with actual lesbian themes.

I'm so glad you did. This one just didn't quite move me that way, but I did still really like it. Perhaps it will grow on me when I reread it someday!

Hahaha, I know that feeling! I feel the need to advocate for most of my five star reads.

September 25, 2012 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Christina said...


September 25, 2012 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Cameron really is, and I think you're going to love this book, since word play and dark humor like that run throughout.

Hmmm, I actually hate most of John Green's heroines, haha. Alaska and Margot can take a flying leap for all I care. Hazel, though, is the best.

Oh no! That's better than a two star book streak. Those are the worst.

September 25, 2012 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

That might have something to do with your coordination, I suppose, yes. ;)

Me too. I really love them, because that's part of humanity, and it should be depicted. Also, they tend to be better quality, since they're a bit harder to get published, I think. I hadn't heard of Empress of the World, but I just added it to GR. Thanks for the recc!


September 25, 2012 at 8:27 AM  

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