Emily M. Danforth
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
Cameron Post is a young woman growing up in the early nineties in the midwest. Her parents died when she was twelve, but she still does the normal teen things: school, friends, swim team, but she has a secret: she likes girls not boys. She explores this a little, but when Coley Taylor moves to town she develops a serious crush that has a lot of potential to move on to something more. Of course, her aunt who has lived with her since her parents died is a born-again Christian and thus believes homosexuality is a sin that needs to be corrected, so when she finds out Cameron's secret, she sets out to "fix it" right away.
Here's what I really loved about this book - it was all encompassing! The book starts when Cameron is young, just twelve years old, and follows her until she's sixteen. It starts off with her first exploring her emerging sexuality and continues on through various girlfriends and rendezvous. There are distinct sections to the novel: when Cameron was young, what it was like to live with her Evangelical Aunt as she continues to explore her sexuality, what happens when her Aunt finds out and sends her to a new school to try and "fix" her. This book could easily have been split up into two or three books, a ploy I'm getting a little sick of in the publishing industry, and I was happy to have it all in one volume.
Aside from that, I enjoyed the time period it took place in as well as the setting. I think both of those combined made the plot of the novel very realistic. If you were gay in the early nineties in the midwest, I'm sure there would have been a lot of people who thought there was something wrong with you, not with themselves and their intolerance. Cameron came off as very realistic as well; she struggled with being a little shy and having to hide her "problem," yet she was also just a normal teen with a quirky penchant for doll house interior design.
There was one small thing that bothered me, however. I understand that not everyone can speak up and defend themselves, whether it be because they are shy or are simply trying to fit in, but I would have liked for Cameron to take an ideological stand against "curing" the gays. If Cameron couldn't find it in herself to do that, I would have thought at least someone at her school could have. It surprised me a little that no one did, though that didn't ruin the story for me. Perhaps since the country is was less tolerant of the LGBT community at that time, I shouldn't have expected someone to take a stand at all.
Four stars! Overall, I really enjoyed The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I highly recommend this book as a standalone because it's so well-rounded, my only really complaint is, even though there will be no sequel, I want to know what happens next! The book ends in 1993 and Cameron would be 35 in 2012. What is she doing today? I, for one, would like to believe she's leading a happy and fulfilled life.