Read Before You Watch: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post movie adaptation comes out this Friday, August 3! What better time to explore the source material?

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post
by Emily M. Danforth

Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQIA, Coming of Age

Length: 470 Pages

Release date: February 7, 2012

Blurb via 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.

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.

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I’ve always heard this book described as “a book about a girl who gets sent to a gay conversion therapy camp,” and while that’s true, it may give you a false impression of the book. Cameron arrives at camp past the halfway point of the book and a lot has already happened in the story by that point. The Miseducation of Cameron Post details the discomfort of being gay in a small, rural town, the pressures of compulsory heterosexuality, and coming out vs. being outed.

The longer I stayed at Promise, the more all the stuff they were throwing at me, at us, started to stick, just like to those sticky hands, in little bits, at first, random pieces, no big deal. For instance, maybe I’d be in bed during lights out and I’d start to think about Coley and kissing Coley, and doing more with Coley, or Lindsey, or whomever, Michelle Pfeiffer. But then I might hear Lydia’s voice saying, You have to fight these sinful impulses: fight, it’s not supposed to be easy to fight sin, and I might totally ignore it, or even laugh to myself about what an idiot she was, but there it would be, her voice, in my head, where it hadn’t been before.

Cameron struggles throughout the book to come to terms with the deaths of her parents, caused by an accident she somewhat blames on herself. She has been raised in a conservative town and already internalized a lot of shame before being sent to conversion camp.

There are no clear villains in Cameron’s story; the characters surrounding her are nuanced, and those running the camp seem to genuinely believe in what they’re doing. Reverend Rick, one of the two main authority figures at the camp, believes himself to be a “former” homosexual. He is warm and inviting, and believes his program is the way for “troubled” kids to live a normal life. These things are important, because without them, he would be a cardboard cutout of a person with no shades of grey. Never does it feel like Danforth is trying to justify Reverend Rick, only to understand him.

The tone was fitting for the story; it is told in first person from Cameron’s point of view and Cameron feels her age throughout the story. Danforth has also made it very easy to connect with Cameron. The book is sometimes a bit slow but atmospheric, drawing you into Cameron’s town and the early 1990’s. Danforth has crafted a poignant story to explore a highly sensitive topic with the care it deserves.

Maybe I still haven’t become me. I don’t know how you tell for sure when you finally have.

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6 thoughts on “Read Before You Watch: The Miseducation of Cameron Post”

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