Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

by Emily M. Danforth
Balzer + Bray | 2012

Cameron Post is a typical twelve-year-old in rural Montana. She's got two parents and a grandma and a best friend named Irene. When Irene dares her to kiss her one day, she does it, and realizes she likes it. They explore together a bit until the night the call comes that both Cameron's parents have been killed in a car crash. And Cameron's first thought is that she's glad they'll never know she kissed a girl.

Soon, Cameron's whole life has changed. Former airline stewardess and born-again Christian Aunt Ruth comes to raise Cameron (with help from Grandma) and they join the Gates of Praise church. Cameron lives with one foot in her good-religious-girl world and one foot in her young-budding-lesbian world. She meets Lindsay through swim team who lives in Seattle and is far more worldly, teaching Cameron all she knows about being a "baby dyke" (everything that Cameron can't learn from every movie ever made featuring even the slightest lesbian scene). Slowly, Cameron develops her identity.

Her best guy-friend Jamie realizes Cameron's in love with Coley, her best friend. When Coley finally figures it out, she and Cameron begin to experiment. And they are, for all intents and purposes, girlfriends, until Coley freaks out and tells everyone that Cameron has defiled her. As quickly as you can say Shawn Colvin (for this awesome book takes place in the early 90s), Cameron has been shipped off to the God's Promise Residential Discipleship Program "for adolescents yearning to break free from the bond of sexual sin and confusion." There Cameron discovers (and chooses once and for all) who she really is.

I've read a fair number of coming out novels in my day and this is the best one. It treats gayness as purely matter-of-fact even though it the characters decide it must still be kept a secret. While Cameron realizes those around her think being gay is bad, she herself never really feels bad about it. She runs with the boys, swims like a champ, refuses dresses, doesn't entertain going to the prom, and falls in love wherever it feels right. A little like Annie on My Mind, actually. The difference is, Annie on My Mind was about being gay. This book is about Cameron Post, a young Montanan living her life--who happens to be gay.

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