Published by Balzer + Bray on 28th May 2013 (first published 7th February 2012)
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Add on Goodreads
Add on 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.
I wish there were more YA books like it. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is incredibly well-written and beautifully crafted from start to finish. The prose is just stunning, breathtaking from the very beginning, atmospheric and detailed. After reading the first dozen pages or so from the free Kindle sample, I knew I wanted a paper copy of this book. So I got one, and I'm so glad. This is the kind of book you want to hug to your chest while you sigh happily.
I still can't believe we have a book like this. It's so good! And long! And it's a coming-of-age story about a queer girl! I'm so amazed. Please can we have ten billion more books like this, please please please. (Side note: if one day we get a story like this about a bisexual girl I will die of happiness.)
We live Cameron's life with her from when she's twelve to when she's seventeen, in the late 1980s to early 1990s in rural Montana. During this time, Cameron kisses multiple girls, falls in love once or twice, gets sent to a religious camp to straighten her out, makes interesting friends, and tries her best to get along with what she has to make do with for a family after experiencing the tragedy of her parents' deaths. We feel the intensity of her friendships. Her behaviour as a teenager seems really realistic to me. She's angry and she doesn't always try her best to be kind. She lashes out at the people around her in a very teenage way; it's relatable and understandable. She's flawed and fascinating and funny and the reader really gets to know her as a person. I loved how this book deals with the theme of identity, of becoming yourself. We see Cameron become herself, and I enjoyed every step of the journey.
The supporting characters are all believable, each with their own unique sense of history and personality. I was interested in all of them and convinced by their various characterisations. It's not often that a book manages to make all its characters seem real, but Miseducation does it brilliantly.
Also all the kissing and sex! Well, there's not that much sex, but what's there is really great. The scenes aren't explicit, but they've just got that hint of sexiness and it's clear what's going on. It made me very happy to read a story about a queer girl where the aspect of her sexuality wasn't avoided or glossed over. I guess there might be a tendency sometimes, as a reaction against straight people who focus way too much on the sexuality of queer people, to go towards the other extreme instead and say that it's about love and not about sex at all. But hey, for a lot of queer people (not all, of course), sex is important too. And I thought that was really well-balanced in this book. Cameron likes girls. She sometimes falls in love with them, but sometimes she kind of just likes making out with them and having sex with them. It was honest and refreshing.
The ending of the book didn't answer all the questions I had. As I approached the ending, I could feel how precious few pages were left and I knew that it would end too soon for me. I could read another whole 500-page novel about Cameron and her life after her miseducation. Yet the ending still satisfies, somehow, and the final sentence absolutely glimmered on the page for me. I read and reread that sentence over and over, and every time it made me shiver again with how powerful it is as an ending to this wonderful and inspiring gem of a novel.
Read this book. Just read it. It brims with hope that will run over into your life if you read it. I hope we get so many more books like this, I really do.