Queer book review! All reviews touch on genre/plot, tropes (if any), and quality of gay content, and include both spoiler and spoiler-lite versions. Catch up on my last book review of Ain’t Gonna Be the Same Fool Twice by April Sinclair.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a novel that became a feature film of the same name in 2018. I watched Cameron Post before reading the novel. I know the film didn’t win many people over, but I liked it! As a writer and a filmmaker, I do not believe that the book is always better than the movie and fully support appreciating separate mediums as separate narratives. However, I rewatched the film after I read the book, and I hated it! Despite my own personal motto, this book is certainly better than the movie. So, if you’ve seen the film and didn’t like it, expect better things from the book.
Protagonist, Cameron Post, grows up in rural Montana as a lesbian. She kissed her first girl quite young before both of her parents passed away, which strains her relationship with grief, her identity, and spirituality. This is a deeply ordinary, yet entirely extraordinary, coming-of-age story about a young lesbian and her relationships to others and the abstracts of reality. After reading the book, I am actually quite disappointed in myself for putting it off for so long. Cameron’s journey resonated particularly with me as the first rural-American queer story that matched aspects of my own youth. Plus, I found many similarities of the novel’s style and language compared to my own; Cameron Post takes a spot on my inspiration list now, for sure.
The movie makes a lot more sense after reading the book. After rewatching, I wondered how a past version of myself even pieced together the motivations and reactions of characters on screen without the written narrative under my belt. The book makes so much more of Cameron’s story without confining her to conversion camp for even half of it.
Cameron has a few smaller relationships with girls at a young age, although these relationships have a huge impact on her growing up. She seems to know she is different from the start but often resists displaying these feelings, for she understands the consequences from society and seems to link her parents’ death with these emotions to some extent. One of the girls Cameron dates is a proud dyke and very in-the-know about lesbian culture, while another refuses to acknowledge she may not be straight. Cameron also dates a boy for a while in high school.
Cameron shies away from labels most of the time and dates a boy in high school, mostly in an attempt to “try” being straight and distract herself from feelings that linger on a girl. There is a fairly strong amount of homophobic characters, including Cameron’s family, a girl Cameron has a sexual relationship with, and other minor characters. Cameron attends conversion camp for a year, which obviously meets homophobia. However, the homophobic actions of characters and institutions are not justified by Cameron herself, the narrator, so it never tipped negatively in that respect.
A man who co-runs the conversion camp was apparently gay once and now straight, which the story never really addresses. There is also a trigger warning for self-harm from one of the other camp attendees, but not described in full detail since Cameron herself did not witness it.
I actually don’t have too much to add here for once. (This section is typically reserved for me complaining if I didn’t like the way the story handled a (gay) plot moment.) I really loved this book, wish I didn’t take so long to read it, and would completely recommend it for people wanting a good gay read.
Have you read Cameron Post? What did you think? Did you like it better than the movie? Let me know in the comments! If you enjoyed this, consider sparing $3 to support my blog! Or, become a patron with access to book updates and exclusive posts for $1/month. If there is a particular book you want me to review, send me a DM and a few bucks to buy it from betterworldbooks!