The Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

YA Fiction

When 12 year old Cameron Post is told that her parents have died suddenly, her first feeling is relief.  Now they won’t know that just hours earlier she had kissed a girl.  But Cameron’s life changes radically when her very religious Aunt Ruth comes to live with Cameron and her grandmother in their small Montana town.

The first part of this book focuses on Cameron’s life as she explores her developing sexuality while trying to keep it secret.  Honestly, I had put the book aside at this point.  Most of the main characters’ time and energy is focused on getting drunk and high.   There was such a feeling of inertia in this book.  These were high school students who never seemed to pay any attention to what was going to happen next.   I was a rural kid in high school and these characters seem so stereotypical of people’s opinions of what kids in rural communities do.  It annoyed me.  I don’t have any patience for people or characters who don’t invest any effort in improving their situation in life.

But then I read that the book had been taken off a summer reading list recently, so I picked it back up.  Let that be a lesson to book banners.  I wouldn’t have finished this book if you hadn’t tried to stop people from reading it.

The second part of the book was more interesting to me.  Aunt Ruth finds out that Cameron is gay and sends her to a facility to be fixed.  The kids in the facility come in two types:

  1. They believe that being homosexual is wrong and they want to change.  When change is not happening despite their best efforts, they get depressed.
  2. They know that nothing is going to change the fact that they are homosexual so they are pretending to go along with the program is hopes of being released.

Reading about forced conversion therapy is very sad.  These kids were locked up and told repeatedly how damaged they were.  They needed to address the causes of their supposed brokenness and place blame on family and friends.  Seeing how people survive in that environment made me want to keep reading this book.