Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

“The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” by Emily Danforth

Balzer & Bray, 2012

The reviewers have been raving, the readers have been buzzing, and someone in the industry whose opinion I respect very much fell in love with this book. So when I picked it up, I hoped to fall in love, too.

Well, I’ll be honest, the beginning — the first chapter or so — had me worried. Who was this Cameron Post, and why did I care? I wasn’t quite sure yet. The slow pace and the long chapters increased my doubts, but not enough to make me stop reading.

By second or third chapter, I was in love.

Set in the 1990s, this is a coming-of-age and a coming-out book about a lesbian teenager who gets sent to a sort of a fundamentalist Christian boarding school that promises to  cure homosexuality. It’s probably not for everyone. You’d have to be a pretty open-minded person just to pick up this book in the first place. But then, it also is for everyone, in my opinion.

It seems like most of the other YA books I read with gay protagonists are more geared toward gay readers, who need books like this while they are struggling to come in terms with their identity in a hostile world. Other gay books I’ve read have been mostly that, “gay books,” written in an emotional language specifically meant for those teens. This book — it is written for any teenager or grownup who feels they are still growing, always growing.

If you do pick it up, and I really, really, really hope so, this book will open your mind further. It will challenge every stereotype etched in your head (and I am not just talking about gay stereotypes, I am talking stereotypes about Christian fundamentalists, stereotypes about human beings, period). This book, if you let it, will make you see the world in a richer light.

I think the reason for this is because this book is written with such compassion. Even good guys are doing some messed-up things here (things like smoking lots and lots of pot, and stealing), but the more they mess up, the more the reader loves them. As for the bad guys, there aren’t any here, not really, just people, loving, scared and vulnerable, doing “the best they can.”

The other thing that got me about Cameron’s story is its’ freshness. Every person’s thought, their every action feels like a revelation, like something I haven’t seen before. And that’s not even talking about the main character, Cameron, who is in turns, noble and cruel, wise and sometimes a total fool (though even then, she knows it). Everything she does, feels, describes, seems at once unique and beautifully ordinary.

I could go on and on and on. I could write an essay. I’ve learned so much as a writer just from reading Cameron’s story. This recent historical title is going on my list of best contemporary historical fiction for young people, for sure. “Miseducation” is going to be a classic, I predict. And one of its copies, the one on my shelf, will get dearly dog-eared, as I plan to re-read it, again and again, paying even closer attention, learning even more.

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May 5, 2012 - Posted by | Book Impressions, Contemporary History | ,

4 Comments »

  1. It sounds like a fabulous book. I like this “freshness” you speak of. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a wish list item. I’d love to read it.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | May 5, 2012 | Reply

    • Medeia, if you only choose one book from everything I’ve ever recommended, I hope it’s this one. 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | May 5, 2012 | Reply

  2. This really is a book I want to read. Thanks for making me aware of it and also for the insightful interview with emily!

    Comment by joycemoyerhostetter | May 28, 2012 | Reply

    • Thank you, Joyce! I hope you get a copy. I am recommending this one to every lovely open-hearted and open-minded person I know. Unless…. hmmmm… is it time for a giveaway? 😉

      Comment by Katia Raina | May 29, 2012 | Reply


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