Saturday, 29 March 2014

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth
Format: Paperback
Published by Balzer + Bray on 28th May 2013 (first published 7th February 2012)
Pages: 480
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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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.

This book is such a rare star in the YA genre.

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.


  1. Whenever I read "We live Cameron's life with her from when she's twelve to when she's seventeen..." I can't help but nod my head. The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes you really feel like you are living a life, doesn't it? It's just so, so captivating, how Danforth writes Cameron's fictional story so well that it feels like a real life story. And the same goes for Cameron as a character herself-- she feels real and, like you said, you really get to know her as a person throughout the course of the story, and I loved reading about "Cameron become herself".

    Haha, while I don't particularly like sex scenes (I'm more into extreme fluff and cuteness), I also really liked the honesty and frankness the story had when it came to showing Cameron's sexuality. Actually, the story had honesty and frankness when it came to pretty much anything, but you get what I mean :P

    Ah, that ending. I found it to be a little sudden and abrupt, but that really worked for me, even though I don't usually like sudden endings. This might sound a bit cheesy, but I thought the suddenness fit with how "life-like" The Miseducation of Cameron Post was. There is no real stopping point or event (er, unless you count death, but, uh, whatever) in life, and the ending of the book reflects that, I think. And I also like that Cameron is still living her life, beyond the pages, I guess you could say.

    Oh, and that last sentence really got to me, too. Such a beautiful ending sentence! Gorgeous review, Cynthia! It makes me want to reread The Miseducation of Cameron Post again!

    By the way, are you planning to read The Summer I Wasn't Me? It has a similar premise to The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I ended up not liking it as much as other reviewers, but it'd be interesting to hear your thoughts :)

  2. Thanks for the long comment! (: I'm glad you enjoyed my review.

    I love sex scenes in YA! I love fluff and cuteness too, but cuteness and sex scenes don't have to be mutually exclusive (in fact I'd be all up for more cute sex scenes in YA, where the sex isn't perfect but the characters are in love and they just have a really fun time and are adorable together; I don't think I see that enough). I'm always just really interested in seeing how different authors handle sex scenes differently. I just think it's something that's important to include in YA when it's something that fits in the story and rings true for the characters. Teens should get to read positive depictions of sex.

    Yeah, I completely agree with you about the ending. I really didn't want it to end there! But it felt right nevertheless, and it was just an immensely powerful image to end on. We just get a few chapters of Cameron's story, but her life carries on with infinite potential, all the more beautiful for being left unknown to the reader.

    I don't know about The Summer I Wasn't Me! I read a few reviews on Goodreads and the negative reviews pointed out things with the novel that I personally think I'd also have problems with, so I'm not sure it would be entirely worth it. I might change my mind though! But I have so many things on my TBR pile, that's just not really my priority at the moment. Have you done a review on it?

  3. Hmm. I can't even remember any awkward-but-fun-and-cute sex scenes in a YA novel I have read at the moment (I do have a few books on my TBR list that apparently have those, though, Anatomy of a Boyfriend being one of them), but I agree that it is something there should be more of. I would love to see some. While I don't tend to get excited about sex scenes (I don't know why, though, it's like my brain turns off right after the next step up from making out is reached), I really do appreciate them and their presence in YA :)

    I don't really know if I'm going to review The Summer I Wasn't Me... I've only been in the mood for writing reviews of books I really loved as of late, haha. But a quick summary of my thoughts: When the book was being fairly light, despite the disturbing things happening in the camp, I enjoyed it. The characters were nice and the romance was very sweet. When the book decided to introduce a REALLY serious issue, I just couldn't like it as much because:

    The serious issue was kind of just waved off for a time in a way I found to disrespectful. And the thoughtfulness the book could have had was shoved to the side for a contrived Bad Guy that really didn't have to be a Bad Guy. I think that when one is writing a story like The Summer I Wasn't Me, they shouldn't resort to making one side a complete villain to get the message they are trying send across.

  4. Yeah, I think the problems that you had with the book are the same problems I've seen mentioned in reviews that put me off reading it. It's good to hear your thoughts. (: I don't think I'll be reading it; there are way too many good books out there that I want to spend my time on!


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