I am in love with this book, which falls under my favourite category, Poignant Coming-of-age Story. Cameron Post is the mother of all coming of age stories. I have been unable to stop talking or thinking about since I first read an advance reading copy in September. I have thrust it into the hands of everyone I know who loves books, whether they’ve read YA before or not. The Miseducation of Cameron Post transcends YA. It holds it’s own against adult reads such as The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle, Goldengrove by Francine Prose, and classics such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Obvious parallels are made to to Annie on My Mind, and while part of the reason I love this book is how honestly it deals with a young girl coming to terms with her homosexuality, this book is more than an issue book.
When 12 year old Cameron Post’s parents are killed in a car accident her first feeling is relief; relief that they will never know that hours before she was kissing a girl. But when her conservative Aunt Ruth comes to look after Cameron, this relief disappears and instead Cameron learns to hide things about herself, like her attraction to girls. But then beautiful, popular, and talented Coley Taylor comes to her high school and against all odds, the unlikely pair strike up a close friendship. Just as Cameron thinks their friendship will develop into something more, her secret is blown out of the water and Aunt Ruth sends her to a sexual conversion facility in order to “fix” Cameron once and for all. It is here, in this unlikely place, that Cameron finally learns to grieve her parents, finds a circle of true friends, and ultimately comes to terms with herself.
So much goodness here. First of, all the subject matter is important and dealt with in a way that is never sensational but honest and emotionally authentic. I hate books that talk about sex and sexuality without actually addressing it. Why skirt the issue? Teens especially need insight, reassurance, and information when it comes to sex, so why confuse the whole situation with vague euphemisms? Cameron Post is not one of these books- it has some of the most honest observations on sex and sexuality I’ve ever come across in my reading in both YA and adult fiction. Much ballyhoo will be made of the fact that the author visited a sexual conversion facility undercover in order to accurately portray Cameron’s experience, and indeed that is an incredible story, but at the heart of the matter, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an incredibly well-written and moving book with many literary and reader-ly merits.
At 336 pages, this is a big book, but I would have read 200 more pages of emily m danforth‘s glorious writing if the editor felt it necessary. I was instantly sucked into the hot, dusty world of Montana in the 1990s. Once you start the book, all you want to do is read it, partially because you are so invested in Cameron as a character, and partially because danforth’s prose is so magnetic it’s hard to look away. She takes such care crafting Cameron’s world and the people in it, that months later I can conjure up images of even the most secondary of characters in my head. I also appreciated how even the reprehensible characters are subtly fleshed out in a way that didn’t necessarily make me forgive them, but shed light on their decisions.Writers of coming-of-age fiction take note, this is a book to love and learn from!
Because of the sophistication of the book, I really do feel it could be shelved in adult fiction, but I’m glad that the YA world can claim this masterpiece as its own. It’s not dense or challenging to read and I wouldn’t hesitate giving it to a solid, 13+ reader. Some teens may be daunted by its size, but after a few chapters they’ll be so invested I doubt they will notice or care. This is a book people will read again and again in their lifetimes. I’m attempting to think of more comp titles, but to be honest there is nothing quite like The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Look out for this one- expect it grace many 2012 best of lists; it certainly is at the top of mine.
Check out the awesome trailer and then stop by frenzy to find out how the trailer came to be:
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is available February 7th from HarperCollins Canada.