Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post I Author: Emily M. Danforth I Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins
Young Adult literature is defined by the American Library Association as fiction that would be appropriate for children between the ages of 12 to 18. A branch of the American Library Association known as the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) offers the following synopsis for The Miseducation of Cameron Post :
Cameron Post explores her lesbian sexuality in small town Montana in the early 1990s and is sent to God's Promise, a school to cure homosexual tendencies.
Actual Plot Summary: The story is set in the 1980s to early 1990s and is told in two parts which configure to be pre-Christian sex addiction camp and post-Christian sex addiction camp.
Part one begins with a 12 year old Cameron with her longtime best friend Irene. Their friendship is competitive and supervision-free. They spend the early summer doing as they have always done in their small Montana town. They dare each other to perform more and more drastic stunts, they shoplift and they one up each other's anti-social behavior.
Cameron's parents are away on their annual camping trip to Quake Lake. They visit the grounds every year to remember a day back in 1959 when Cameron's mother almost died while camping with her parents. On that day, her parent's campground was flooded with water from a nearby lake. Many people were killed but her mother and her family managed to escape. Cameron's grandmother is staying with her until her parents return.
Throughout the day, Cameron and Irene continue to one up the other's risky behavior, and this culminates with Irene daring Cameron to kiss her. After they kiss for the first time, they discover that they like it and they continue their make out session throughout the day. Irene invites Cameron to spend the night at her house and while she is there, it is learned that Cameron's parents have died in a car crash. She is driven home to be with her grandmother and in her shocked state; she reflects that she is somehow glad that they died so that they will never learn of her inappropriate actions with Irene.
Cameron's born-again Christian aunt gains custody of her. Her friendship with Irene diminishes in part because Cameron is struggling with her feelings and in part because Irene's family comes into a good deal of wealth. Irene is soon after sent to an elite boarding school on the east coast leaving Cameron to sort out her feelings with increasingly self-destructive behavior – although her damaging behavior is celebrated throughout the book. In spite of Cameron's involvement in a local goody-two-shoes Christian group called Gates of Praise or the GOP as she refers to it, her unsupervised actions evolve throughout the years and she becomes a kleptomaniac, a porn addict, a frequent drug user and an alcoholic.
Her lesbian proclivities progress as well and part one of the book closes with Cameron engaging in an affair with her friend Coley (fellow GOP member and classmate) who is fascinated with lesbian experimentation. She and Coley engage in very descriptive sexual activities but are caught by her friend's brother. Coley feels remorse for her involvement with Cameron and essentially throws Cameron under the bus as a sexual predator to deflect judgment that she was a willing participant.
Cameron is sent to a Christian re-education camp called God's Promise Christian Discipleship Program that deals with overcoming sexual addiction.
Part two of the book details Cameron's time at God's Promise and an insincere examination of Christian concerns relating to homosexuality. Upon entering the God's Promise program, Cameron immediately finds a group of friends who engage in heavy drug usage and revel in their contempt of the program.
Cameron and two of her friends run away from the camp after one of the more conscientious participants of God's Promise has a nervous breakdown and attempts to castrate himself with a razor blade and a bottle of chlorine bleach.
This young adult book has earned a Mature Content rating for extreme language, extreme sexual content, graphic violence, extreme drug and alcohol usage, aberrant behavior, extreme profanity and extreme gender confusion.
I normally provide a star rating to indicate how well an author has achieved the goals that he or she set out to accomplish. I will not offer that rating for this title. I stopped caring what the author was intending at the point where she choreographed a hyper-dramatic, needlessly explicit self-mutilation attempt by one of her characters with a razorblade and bleach. It's an unconditionally vile exploitation of young readers and should never have been rewarded by the American Library Association. It's a wholesale abuse of their authority and our tax money. Not content just to place this book on their "Best of 2013" list, YALSA actually presented the author with the William C. Morris Award celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.
Review : The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an essential lesbian handbook complete with simple and easily understood instructions for same-sex relationships including proper oral sex etiquette, a quick guide to tongue piercing for the improvement of orgasm, a summer reading list for young girls who are interested in learning more and which same-sex movies to rent in case your child is more of a visual learner. Act now and Emily Danforth will include step-by-step instructions for shoplifting and getting stoned and she'll even throw in 219 words that you wouldn't want to use in front of your grandmother for no extra charge. They slice, they dice, they julienne.
I was chastised by a follower of this review series yesterday via the comment section of one of my earlier YA reviews because I'm so utterly ignorant about how it is in the real world with my conservative, hypocritically narrow thinking. Apparently, I have no clue about what children want to read, how difficult it is to get children to read, and I need to get over myself because Mark Twain was a bigot.
I'll wait. Feel free to marinade that in your brain for as long as you need to.
Seeing as how Mark Twain didn't write YA literature, the critique of my critique is not really relevant to what we are doing here…also, he's not on the YALSA "Best of List" for 2013 or 2014 but the censure got me to thinking about the idea of giving children what they want versus what they need all the same. And I have to wonder at the new-age psychology I must be missing because we are left with some very narrow scenarios that have been defined by the Left for the betterment of children's minds.
That brings us back to the Left's fallback misdirect in deflecting disapproval over the abysmal state of the YA genre…you know, as long as children are reading, does it really matter what they are reading?
It would serve us well to remember that the deterioration of YA literature has happened under their watch.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth shall act as an everlasting testimonial to how quite important content is toward the miracle of a child reaching for a book. It is a miracle by the way, and it really should not be taken lightly.
In response to the standard Leftist Twainism of "any book so long as they're reading," I'm given now to thinking about dolphins of all things…or rather to the scientists who are obsessed with dolphins and actually, lower primates since I'm on the subject.
Scientists have been working with dolphins and gorillas and the like for decades in an attempt to develop meaningful communication with them and in doing so; they have made a concerted effort to attach meaning to the simple sounds and sign language that they use to communicate with various species.
We may certainly ponder the pitiable waste of resources toward this pursuit. We may ask, "To what end will it come?" Fair questions especially since you and I foot the bill for the endeavor, but have you ever considered the why of it all?
Why do scientists spend long hours talking to dolphins? Why do they chat with apes?
I suggest to you that they do it because they want to see if somewhere deep inside those savage beasts there might be an ember of nobility and in discovering that ember, they might want to fan it until it becomes a hungry flame. They then might take hold of that flame, and they might want to ignite wonder and self-awareness and transcendent beauty within the hearts of those poor creatures all because dolphins and lower primates demonstrate a glimmer of something like a cognitive ability that other animals do not have.
This while our children grow feral for our unwillingness to challenge their hostile and contrarian minds. Do you suppose that there are days that the monkeys would rather eat bananas and fling excrement at one another or do they always do what they are told? I wonder if the scientists offer tutorials on pot smoking and oral sex on the off days. I wonder if they award each other with prestigious awards for doing so.
Probably not. I think that when monkeys refuse to learn, scientists work patiently with them until they live up to their potential.
Why then can we not make that same patient effort towards transcendent beauty, nobility and grace for our own children?
For monkeys, we will strain to unchain them from the captivity of ignorance by offering them a world of Shakespeare and Mozart. We will reach beyond Darwinian links to foster an interest in principled pursuits, we will teach them what it means to be human and we will glory in bringing them closer to…to what?
To God. Scientists spend millions of dollars in search of dolphin souls on the off chance that they have them; the dolphins are cherished by the scientific community because dolphins apparently matter.
How easy it is to humanize beasts and dehumanize humans. What a fun scholarly quest this has all been. If I live to be a thousand, I will never understand why.
I don't recommend this book.