For every book we read during the book club, one of our book club members will write a review. This way anyone who couldn’t be there, can still join in with the fun! Our fifth YA book is The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth and the review is written by Saskia den Ouden. You can read more of her writing over at thepunchlineisprose.wordpress.com/.
As many people know there is a whole host of books dedicated to LGBT coming of age stories. Most of them are run off the mill ‘how to come to terms with your own sexuality’ stories. It makes readers a little bit wary of these types of books, if I am to believe one of my fellow book clubbers. So we were all glad to find that the Miseducation of Cameron Post didn’t fall into the same trap.
The story starts on the day Cameron first kisses a girl. Very soon after she finds out her parents have been killed in a car accident. Her first thought is relief that her parents will never find out. Her life moves on. Her religious Aunt Ruth moves in with her as her legal guardian and life continues. When Cameron goes to high school she meets Coley, perfect cowgirl, with a pickup and a boyfriend. Cameron falls in love with her and after a terrible night, Cameron’s sexuality is discovered. Aunt Ruth decides her young niece needs to be reformed and sends her away.
Although it is a coming of age story that deals with homosexuality, it is refreshing in the way it’s handled. In most stories the protagonist has to come to terms with the fact that they are gay. Cameron deviates from this. She has accepted that she is gay. She embraces this quite early on. She also finds out that she’s not a bad person for being gay. It’s just how she’s born. It’s always been there, since her first crush at the age of 6.
The more important part is how Cameron handles her parents’ death and how she deals with society in a small town full of religious people. I find on a general basis this part of a story is not emphasized enough. Although for some people the part of self-acceptance is vital when coming to terms with their own identity, it’s not always the most crucial part or even the most interesting. And this book points that out so beautifully.
Aside from the story itself, it’s also a good read in terms of language. Emily Danforth has a good story telling style that finds a balance between dialogue and description, trying not to underestimate nor overestimate the readers of the story. However, she does sometimes get hung up on Cameron’s inner thoughts which can make it seem a little bit tedious at times and the weird time skips, how well employed they are, are not for everyone.
Although the book is marketed towards teenagers, it’s a story that can be read by adolescents and adults alike. It doesn’t feel necessarily young adult-ish to me. Because whether you were a teenager 10 years ago or if you are one now, you will recognise at least the struggle to be accepted and to be taken seriously as a young person. So if you like to follow the journey of young people on the path to adulthood, I can certainly recommend it.