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The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M.…

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

by Emily M. Danforth

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8405016,060 (4.02)14



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Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Danforth's writing is beautiful, and the perspective of this story is interesting and unique. Our heroine, Cameron Post, is a young girl who experiences a horrific tragedy — her parents are killed in a car accident. Coincidentally, that same day is the first time she kisses a girl, and because children aren’t logical, she connects the two events in her mind, thus beginning several years of confusion and denial and secrecy.

In the mid-90s, rural Montana isn’t really a bastion of progressive or inclusive thought. Cameron had a difficult path to navigate as she tries to figure out who she is and who her real friends are. And when one of those friends betrays her, she has to start all over again in an even more difficult environment, a Christian camp for gay youth that attempts to straighten them out (sorry, I couldn't resist).

I do have a few minor criticisms. For one, I thought this book was a little too long. Secondly, the ending is really abrupt. I actually would forgo some of the earlier parts of the book in exchange for a little more followup. The majority of the plot threads had no follow up. However, I guess that says a lot about the book in that I want to know what happens next. Overall, an enjoyable read. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
When Cameron Post finds out that her parents have just died in a car crash, her first feeling is relief. They will never find out that just hours before, she had been kissing a girl. However, that relief doesn't last. She is forced to move in with her very religious and conservative Aunt Ruth. Cam knows that from now on, life will be different, and in order to survive in this small town in Montana, she has to blend in. Which is easy, until Coley Taylor comes to town. Cam and Coley forge an expected friendship, one that surprises everyone. But just as something starts to evolve between the two, Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to try and "fix" Cam. Through the process, Cam is forced to face the fact that she has been denying her true self, and see if she has the courage to stand up and be her own person.

After hearing about this book when we went to the library, and from someone else in the class who has read it, I knew that it was definitely something that I wanted to put on my list. It sounded intriguing, and different than other LGBTQ novels that I have read. I would have to say that the beginning was a little slow for me. It took me a while to get into it, mainly because I thought the age of the characters was a little off at the beginning. Cam seemed a lot older than she was supposed to be, and I felt that way until she was in high school. However, once she did get into high school, I thought the novel picked up, and the realness of the characters really pulled me in. The other thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the fact that it is a story about a girl who is a lesbian, but it isn't a coming out story. Too often, stories with LGBTQ characters tell the stories of said characters coming out and their struggles, but the tone of this novel was different. Instead of it being about Cam coming out and figuring out her sexuality, it was about her high school life, her relationships with her friends and love interests, and her struggle with coming to terms with her parents' deaths. Cam is a relatable character no matter your sexual orientation. I also think the issue of religion and homosexuality is handled well in this novel, even though the whole theory behind the camp that Cam is sent to is to "fix" all of the homosexual, christian teens. But the things that Cam learns about herself there bring about good points, and make you question who really is correct in a situation like this.

As far as classrooms go, I definitely think this book is worth keeping on the shelf. If possible, it would be a good one to work into the curriculum, especially because it does deal with the issue of homosexuality, and in a way that would be good to discuss in the classroom. This book could serve both as a mirror to students who identify as LGBTQ themselves, or have a family member that does, and as a window to those that do not. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend it in a middle school setting, I think this could work for any grade at the high school level. ( )
  Amanda7 | Oct 12, 2018 |
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is written with beautiful, evocative language that really makes the summers (and a couple Christmases) in Montana feel present, and the nostalgic memories of the early 1990s suddenly vivid.

I avoided reading it for years because I prefer alternate universe stories where homophobia doesn't exist or is minimal, rather than this kind of "problem" story. I'm also uncomfortable reading about the heavy use of drugs and alcohol. I knew about the homophobic content but had no idea about the extent of pot use when I picked up the book.

To be honest, I was deeply immersed in the story and enjoyed the writing style a lot, but also I probably shouldn't have read it at all. danforth says she was inspired to write the story after learning about conversion therapy, and the second half of the book is about Cam's experiences at such an institution for young people. It was frustrating for me to read about this fictional place which is honestly a lot more mild than anything I've ever heard of or experienced, but also it brought back a lot of the ugly stuff I experienced as a young queer person without really addressing any of it.

It felt to me that danforth did a lot of research but maybe didn't really understand the situation or wanted to have a light touch, so she keeps the whole episode in soft focus with only a little bit of direct commentary on how harmful and abusive these religious practices can be for queer kids, especially the conversion therapy. Also, too, Cam as the narrator is ambivalent at best about religion and isn't sure if she really believes any of it, which seems to keep her from engaging too much - but she does allude occasionally to how she feels like the place and fake therapy is getting to her and messing with her head despite herself, without really saying how. I would have really liked more clarity and statements about that, because as it was, I was really distressed to have all the stuff I worked out in therapy being brought back up without much comment or analysis. It was just there, mostly accepted because Cam didn't notice or understand, and my immersion in Cam's narrative made it too immediate to me.

But anyway, I did love the first half of the book. Cam is telling the story from a future date and acknowledges here and there where she misunderstood things or re-orders events, which isn't very common in first-person novels, and I enjoyed it a lot. The first half is about Cam entering adolescence and all of the identity-exploration and growing up that involves, and also realizing that she likes girls around the same time that her parents die unexpectedly. She lives in a small, conservative town, and it's 1989, so she doesn't take it very well, but also can't change who she is. Her grief and guilt guide her actions as she grows older, and I thought danforth did a lovely job showing this. The chapters are roughly grouped by years, but Cam's growth (coming of age) is also marked by changes in her friendships and her interests in movies, swimming, or a part-time job. The narrative is wonderful at showing without actually saying what is going on with Cam and how she feels - because, of course, even in an extended flashback, a first-person narrative doesn't always connect dots or see the importance in things that an outsider, the reader, might.

Most of the novel takes place in the summers, which is probably symbolic somehow, but I'm not in school anymore so I'm not going to put too much effort into figuring out the fine details, only that the summers are when Cam explores her identity most and has a certain freedom to her days - it's during the school year, in winter, when she buttons up and endures everyone else trying to direct her. She has a few bad traits like a lot of teens, which give her character some life even as it felt frustrating to read as wheel-spinning or the opposite of growth, and which probably also have symbolic importance: the pot smoking, but also she has a habit of stealing little things and always avoiding serious topics.

So it's a good book - funny and touching and lovely as appropriate - but for me, the first half is stronger than the second. I feel like the conversion therapy section loses a lot of the life of the first part and the not-quite-right feeling I had about the details is unfortunate. I'm also not a fan of how it dredged up old emotions and anxieties without providing a really good narrative catharsis. While there is one, it's more about Cam's grief and dealing with her parents' death than it is about the conversion therapy.

I can see why this book won awards and got noticed, especially with the state of queer books the way it was in 2012, but I would be careful who I recommended this to. People who weren't raised religious or don't have the anti-queer religious background may be okay with it, but folks like me who got the lessons about being unnatural, or innately sinful (whether these were deliberate instruction or passively learned), and who struggle with it still might want to take a breather or have someone to talk to while reading. I really wish I had better trigger/content warnings in advance, but I don't really know what they could have been. ( )
  keristars | Jul 12, 2018 |
I really want to say something profound about this book that will make everyone want to read it immediately. But I can't think of anything other than: "I loved it. Read it. Immediately. I'll wait here, and we'll discuss when you're finished." Yes, it's sort of YA (in a sense -- the protagonist is a teenager, but I think the book is really intended for adults), but don't let that scare you off. Read it. It's awesome. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
** spoiler alert ** It took me a little while to get into this, probably because I thought the writing style was a little boring, but once I got into it I couldn't really put it down. I read it in two days.
Cameron's life in rural Montana reminded me of my own life in rural California, although I wasn't a little baby gay being punished by my homophobic relatives and community members. I am so glad that the conversation therapy camps described in the book are illegal in California now. Granted I think the one Cameron went to was pretty tame compared to other ones I've heard about, but it doesn't make any of them less horrible.
People complain about the ending, and I heard the author say she wrote a lot more about Cameron and maybe we'll get to read the rest someday. However, after some contemplation, I feel like the ending was perfect. She and her friends had escaped the horrible conversion therapy camp. Cameron had done what she needed to do at the lake and resolved the feelings of guilt from the beginning of the book from when her parents had died. She realized she wasn't wrong or bad for being gay and that shit just happens and her parents didn't die to punish her "sin" of kissing a girl.. You were left to imagine any kind of possibility for her at the end, although I don't think many of the possibilities are good.
Apparently this is being turned into a movie, although it won't be set in Montana, sadly
  kirkspocks | Mar 6, 2018 |
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For my parents, Duane and Sylvia Danforth, who filled our home with books and stories
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The afternoon my parents died, I was out shoplifting with Irene Klauson.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
Montana orphan
kisses girls, her secret's out.
Can God de-gay her?

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062020560, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the early 1990s, when gay teenager Cameron Post rebels against her conservative Montana ranch town and her family decides she needs to change her ways, she is sent to a gay conversion therapy center.

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