Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
By emily m. danforth
Published 2012 by Balzer + Bray

Cameron Post is heartbroken and relieved. Heartbroken because her parents have both just died in a car crash. Relieved because they will never know she kissed a girl just hours earlier. In the aftermath, Cameron's conservative aunt moves in and she knows she will have to do her best to not kiss any more girls. Then Coley Taylor moves to town. And Cameron is doomed.

I received an ARC of this a long time ago, but I missed reading it before the release date and it got pushed down my to-read list. When it appeared on The Hub's Reading Challenge list, I knew I'd finally get around to it, seeing as it was one of the only titles on the list for which I already owned a copy.

I hate to admit it, but this book was a struggle for me. I really, really wanted to love this book - I don't think there will ever be enough YA lit for gay teens, so I'm always thrilled when there's a new title I can suggest. But I didn't love this book as much as I had hoped and I'm so disappointed about that.

First, this book is a behemoth - nearly 500 pages. Now, I enjoy a good doorstopper as much as the next guy (I've read 3 of the Game of Thrones books so far this year), but there is a huge difference between a 500 page epic fantasy novel and a 500 page realistic GLBT character study. This book moved excruciatingly slowly for me because, as I said, it's mostly a character study of Cameron - how she struggles with her sexual identity, how she deals with the loss of her parents, how she comes to terms with life with her aunt, etc. And, as a character study, it's a pretty strong one - I really felt like I got to know Cameron over the course of the book, and she felt very real to me. But, that doesn't necessarily make it any easier to get through nearly 500 pages without a lot of action.

Additionally, I felt like a lot what I expected the book to be about didn't come until very late in the page count. I vaguely remember this book being described to me as a story of a teen sent to a de-gaying camp in the early 1990s. Well, yes, that happens, but not until late in the story, not until after you make your way through beautiful but lengthy descriptions of the scenery (both of the Montana landscape and Cameron's mind). I suppose my main problem with this book is that is was not the book I expected it to be.

That being said, this is still a fantastic book and a welcome addition to the canon of GLBT lit for teens. It's beautifully written and Cameron has an authentic voice that is sure to resonate with gay and questioning teens. So, though it wasn't the book for me, it is definitely the book for other readers.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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