May 13, 2013

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Within my incredible soft spot for YA literature, I have an even softer spot for LGBT YA fiction.  The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Danforth's Morris Award winning debut novel, is now in my top LGBT reads.

It's the 90s (yes, that is also a huge factor in why I love this novel) and Cameron lives in the middle of nowhere Montana.  She realizes she has different feelings towards girls at a young age, but her discovery coincides with the tragic death of her parents.  She doesn't know what to make of her feelings until years later when she meets another lesbian on her swim team.  Lindsey takes on the task of getting Cameron up to speed on lesbian speak and activities (music, movies, pride festivities) even when she moves back home after their summer together.  Cameron continues to live in secret until she is betrayed by a friend and forced to attend a curing camp by her conservative born-again Christian aunt.  Cameron continues to struggle at the camp, both with her feelings about her sexuality and also her guilt over her parents' deaths. 

I'm generalizing here, but a good chunk of LGBT fiction that I've encountered primarily focuses on either a character's confusion over whether or not s/he is gay or the reaction of others to a character's intentional or unintentional outing.  Cameron Post features both of these concepts, but also focuses on the internal struggle Cameron faces as she tries to grapple with the idea that maybe her family and church are right; what she's feeling may in fact be wrong.  Also, while the curing camp that Cameron is forced to attend is obviously supposed to be viewed as an antagonizing force, because the workers are shown to struggle when faced with adversity, Cameron's experience there isn't so black and white. I like that Danforth's realistically explores how a teen facing such a program feels when they want to please their family despite being angry with them.

Some of the scenes are pretty sexual, and there's drug and alcohol use littered throughout, so I'd definitely limit recommending this title to older teens or mature readers.  

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