Prompt: A banned book during Banned Book Week
Banned Book Week 2020 ran from 27th September- 3rd October. It shines a spotlight on books that have been banned or withdraw from schoolmamd public libraries. My choice for this prompt was The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I bought a copy at YALC and started reading it ages ago so this was a great opportunity to pick it up again. And I I finished it last night – just in time to tick off the prompt.
What it’s about?
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.
What I think:
This is a beautifully written, slow- paced book that immerses you in Cameron’s life.
It’s a coming of age tale in which Cameron works through her grief from her parents’ death, her sexuality and her faith, or lack it, in God.
Cameron has several intense friendships and sexual relationships with girls and boys throughout the book as she explores her sexual identity.
Living in Montana, in a majority white, Conservative Christian community, Cameron is forced to hide her feelings for Coley and their relationships remains secretive. Until Coley’s guilt at having cheated on her boyfriend and confusion over her own feelings for Cameron mean that she confesses and blames Cameron for leading her astray.
Cameron is packed off to Promises, a Christian camp/boarding school intended to convert homosexuals and “pray the gay away”.
Cameron’s feelings about her sexuality are complex and she explores them in depth. Despite her time at Promises, and her exploration of faith, her feelings do not change and she never once accepts that her sexual preferences are sinful.
This book was withdrawn from recommended reading lists because of it’s use of language. Cameron is a typical swearing teenager. However, critics and the writer believe this argument is disingenuous and is used as an excuse to disguise homophobia.
One of the scenes at Promises where a teenage boy tries to commit suicide by mutilating his genitals is particularly horrific and brings into question the techniques being used to “cure” the young people.
This book is a character study. The pace is slow and it’s probably overlong. The ending is not entirely satisfactory – while Cameron seems to find some resolution regarding the death of her parents there is a lot that is unresolved. I’d be interested to find out what Cameron amd her friends do next.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is available from:
Waterstones: click here
Amazon.co.uk: click here