Book Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth
This behemoth of a YA coming of age story is 470 pages. The internet recommended it to me, and I was immediately drawn to the idea of it: a teenage lesbian coming of age in farmy and conservative Miles City, Montana, who gets sent to what is basically an “ex gay” boarding school (you know, like along the lines of the one in the genius film But I’m A Cheerleader, and uh, unfortunately in real life too (see map)).
I’m going to start with the critique so that I can end with the really good parts: There are two distinct (and I think unintentional) halves to this book: the first takes place at home in Miles City, and the second takes place at the ex gay boarding school. I don’t feel like they mix well; most of the characters from the first half are totally dropped, and characters in the second half just show up mid-book. Also, the ending leaves you hanging, and I My impression is that the author had a really huge body of work and the editors were like “let’s delete a bunch of stuff and cram this into one book,” rather than “let’s turn this into a miniseries/trilogy” or something… Or the contrast is intended to highlight just how different Cameron’s life suddenly gets when she’s sent away…
But the good! The writing is great, and the setting of Miles City is thoroughly and wonderfully described. I grew up totally West Coast, but the descriptions of how Cameron navigates the space as a young teen felt so familiar. There’s such lovely and nostalgic attention to detail. The coming out parts between teens are so super right on, and I really believed in her relationships and friendships in the first half of the book. I found the religion part really interesting (her aunt moves in and starts practicing as a very Born Again Christian), and while that’s the detail that unfortunately gets Cameron eventually sent away to the ex gay school, it indeed makes for a captivating setting.
The book is a hulking 470 pages, but I remain impressed with the large quantity of information and “story” that gets fit into it. I could really go for a sequel, but I can’t find any evidence of one being in the works.