*This review is Spoiler-Free*
The Miseducation of Cameron Post follows the title character, Cameron who lost both her parents in a tragic car accident. Ever since then Cameron has been living with her Grandmother and Aunt. That is until her Aunt sends her to some Camp that will “cure” Cameron of the “sin” of being attracted to other girls. The thing is that when Cameron had first heard the news that her parents had died, her initial reaction was relief because then her parents would never know that earlier that day she had been kissing another girl. Cameron has lived her life denying herself, of herself.
Oh the great stars, this novel had me all twisted and feeling all of the feels while I was reading it. Granted most of these feelings were from a place of anger, frustration, sadness and fear. The book is so incredibly honest and that honesty is what is able to so masterfully convey the exploration of ones identity, the denial of who you truly are, and the turbulent task of figuring out exactly ‘who’ that is.
One thing to note is that this story is set in the late 20th century and thus the discourse around homosexuality was just pretty much ALL negative. There weren’t any resources for children and teens who lived in small towns to explore themselves in a safe and non-threatening environment. There was no internet to be able to reach out to others and to discover allies. There weren’t many people voluntarily coming-out in such places and more often than not, it was downright dangerous to be outed. People were publicly bigoted, homophobic asshats and there weren’t many people who felt this behavior was wrong and in fact it was very strongly encouraged. Teens who were Queer were very publicly ostracized for simply trying to exist as who they are. So, it is no surprise that while Cameron is at the Camp we get to read about the experiences of other teens who have had negative experiences and interactions with others regarding their sexuality. It’s horrifying to read, yet allows you to be grateful for how far we as a society have come, but it painstakingly highlights how much farther we have to go, especially when you think about Gender-Queer equality.
It’s difficult for me to talk about this book without turning into a bubbling cesspool of rage. That it is one of the reasons that I have always been incredibly hesitant to review this novel. The greatest reason for this hesitation is the fact that I adore the book so much and can never find the right words, correct plot points, or the best characters to talk about to highlight how magnificent this novel is. Although my review is more of a gushfest than anything else, I will say that the book is actually well written. The characters are well written and thought out. Although sometimes painful to read, the situations and confrontations that occur in this book are believable and the characters’ reactions are genuine.
I loved reading Cameron’s story and it is an important one that I wish more readers will read. The novel is so much more than a coming-out novel in the traditional sense, and deals with more complex nuances of being queer and/or trying to figure out your feelings as a teen and being able to stand up for yourself whenever you figure it out. I recommend this book to pretty much everyone, especially readers who like Contemporary novels. I give The Miseducation of Cameron Post a well deserved 8-out of-10 Unicorn Horns! KUDOS EMILY M. DANFORTH! I TIP MY HAT TO YOU!