I'm not sure where I first heard about The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth, but I recently reserved a copy at the library. In my usual perpetually behind fashion, I did't start this novel until the day before it was due. At 470 pages, this wasn't the best option, but once I began reading I knew I couldn't give the book back without finishing it.
I don't love books tackling issues of sexuality, in general. However, I did love this book almost as soon as I began reading. Set in Montana in the early 1990s, I could have changed the setting of this book to my rural Iowa hometown without altering things too much.
Cameron Post is orphaned at the age of twelve- the death of her parents occurring on the same day she kisses a girl for the first time. Cameron believes that her parents death is her payment for this sin, yet is unable to stop her attraction to other girls. Eventually her best friend in high school (and object of Cameron's crush), Coley Taylor gives Cameron a reason to believe that their relationship may also be physical someday. Cameron's aunt Ruth finds out about her niece's attraction to other girls and quickly decides to "fix" her.
Reading this book made me reminisce about my own high school years now twenty years ago. A lot has changed in the past two decades in terms of attitude and acceptance toward homosexuality. This book is set in a small Montana town, as I mentioned a town much like my hometown. One note of unbelievability - I was amazed at the number of girls Cameron is able to experiment with sexually in this very limited environment.
Danforth grew up in Montana in the early 1990s; her biographical information does not give much information about her personal life. However, there is a mention of a person named Erica in the acknowledgements that makes me wonder if this book is somewhat autobiographical.
This is Danforth's debut novel, a book I spent most of last week reading. I loved being transported back in time to Cameron's life as she tackled growing up and finding out who she was.
This book is a sort of cross-over YA/adult novel, dealing with a topic that many teens can identify with. I finished this book on Friday, and haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I will be recommending this to many friends as a must read, and a great book to discuss.