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Cover of The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Cover image of THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both. Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship—one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not exactly sure who that is. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.

First novel for emily m. danforth

Published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2012, $17.99
480 pages
ISBN 9780062020567
Agent: Jessica Regel, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency

EMERT’S NOTES:

I first met emily danforth at the National Council of Teachers of English Conference in November 2011. She popped in for a quick visit to promote her forthcoming first novel at an all-day workshop on trends in young adult fiction featuring queer characters. The workshop was offered by former president of the Young Adult Library Services Association Michael Cart and Christine Jenkins, a professor of library science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Everyone who attended the workshop received an advanced reader’s copy of The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I placed it in my reading pile for later. I did not get to it for several months, but when I did, this is the review I wrote in my journal:

Danforth’s richly detailed literary novel is the kind of book that makes me want to read slowly. She savors language and has worked hard to create descriptions that are full-bellied and lovely. She also offers a sprawling story about her lesbian protagonist, Cameron Post, growing up in the ranching town of Miles City, Montana. Danforth takes her time, telling a lengthy story about Cameron’s loss of her parents the day after she first kisses a girl, Irene Klausson, at the age of 12. This is 1989. She divides the novel into three segments by date: Summer 1989, 1991: High School, and 1992: God’s Promise. Each section explains Cameron’s difficulty coming to terms with her same-sex attraction, though the battles she faces are less about her acceptance of herself and more about her struggle to have others accept her.

When she develops a romantic attachment and, ultimately, a sexual relationship with the beautiful Coley, she is discovered and sent by her aunt, her guardian after her parents’ death, to a reparative therapy camp. Danforth draws complex characters; even the leaders of the Christian conversion camp, though not overly sympathetic, are three-dimensional, believable, and  interesting. Occasionally, the impulse to point to a scene’s significance leads danforth to romanticize too explicitly: the final scene in the novel, for instance, seems implausible and overwritten. She has Cameron swim to the middle of a frigid lake with a lit candle held above her head. I found that I got stuck trying to imagine the logistics of this feat, which detracted from the import of the scene, in which Cameron makes a sort of peace with her parents’ unexpected death. Generally, though, this novel is easy to love. I found that I was sad to finish it, even though I had taken three weeks to read it. Post is a writer to watch.

AWARDS:

Finalist, Lambda Literary Award (2013)

Finalist, William C. Morris YA Debut Award (2013)

SELECTED PRESS:

“Spring 2012 Flying Starts: emily m. danforth,” Publishers Weekly
By Donna Freitas, Published June 29, 2012

“My Letter to the Members of the Cape Henlopen School Board about Their Censorship of my Great Big Gay-YA Novel,” The Huffington Post
By emily m. danforth, Published July 7, 2014

“Delaware School District Cancels Reading List to Avoid Lesbian-themed Novel,” lgbtqnation.com
Published August 11, 2014

REVIEWS:

Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2012

The Boston Globe, April 29, 2012

AUTHOR’S WEB PRESENCE:

Website: http://www.emdanforth.com/snovel.php

Twitter: @emdanforth

Headshot of Emily Danforth

Headshot of Emily Danforth

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