The Miseducation of Cameron Post


Amelia Bautz

The book cover of The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Amelia Bautz, Staff Writer

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, written by Emily M. Danforth in 2012, does an excellent job of representing homosexual people, and providing a firsthand perspective on the practice of gay conversion therapy and its effects on those who are subjected to it.

The plot of The Miseducation of Cameron Post follows 16-year-old Cameron Post, her experiences in coming to terms with her sexual orientation and facing the unfortunate consequences that come along with it.

Following the loss of her parents, Cameron’s aunt and grandmother come to live with her in Miles City, Mont.

The world of The Miseducation of Cameron Post is described incredibly. By setting her novel in the place she grew up in, the author shows off her excellent ability to world build around her protagonist.

Great attention to detail is shown through the characters. Readers fall for the girls Cameron is enamored with, as they are each described in such precise detail.

Danforth shows that no matter sexual orientation, people fall in love.

After being in a discrete relationship for several weeks, Cameron and Coley’s relationship is exposed. Since the novel takes place in 1993, following the backlash of the AIDS crisis, this causes some controversy.

Cameron’s extremely religious Aunt Ruth was greatly affected by this news.
The solution that Cameron’s aunt comes up with is to send her niece to a conversion therapy camp called God’s Promise.

Cameron’s grandmother is upset by the news as well, but her reaction is diluted due to her gentle nature and less religious ideology. However, Cameron ends up being sent to God’s Promise.
The discussion of conversation therapy is another major theme of this novel. This topic is very important to the author, and she discusses what goes on in conversion therapy camps throughout the story.

As the novel progresses, Danforth describes common steps that are taken to “cure” homosexuality and explains them in great detail. The author does an excellent job in describing how these tactics work, while being mindful of how they are portrayed.

One of the most present examples is based on a psychological phenomenon called the Illusory Truth Effect. Danforth defines this as the tendency to believe information to be true after hearing it repeatedly. Throughout the novel, she shows the heads of conversion therapy camps constantly telling attendees that there is something wrong with them and making them feel guilty for bringing this upon themselves. Consequently, this makes them feel more inclined to change themselves.

Given the context in the novel, it is clear that in the author’s mind, this process breaks patients down to nothing. However, she makes a point that even after a complete deconstruction of their identity, the attendees haven’t changed at all. Even if they desired to be cured of their homosexuality, most attendees leave these camps still feeling a same-sex attraction.

Instead of having them leave heterosexual, conversion therapy camps have people leave not only still homosexual, but also with a broken spirit.

Through a quote said by the main character, Danforth encourages the reader to think about the reason these camps exist in the first place if they don’t seem to work. The amount of research Danforth put forth into making God’s Promise seem real is phenomenal, and provides readers with an informed opinion on the subject of conversion therapy.

Later on, Danforth shows that while Cameron’s strong will prevents any of these tactics from affecting her, people who don’t have as thick a skin as Cameron, may be more drastically affected.
The novel shows this through the character of Mark Turner, who attempts suicide towards the end of the novel. Discussing Mark’s attempted suicide is done with sensitivity, but with accuracy given his situation and upbringing.

The author does an excellent job in balancing these two factors; she says what she wants to say, but does it in a manner that is not too graphic.

The author discussing the way two different people deal with the same problem is another great example of her characters being influenced by factors outside of their sexual orientation.
At the end of the novel, the author left the events that take place after the book up to interpretation.

Throughout the novel, Danforth states how everyone involved in conversion therapy has their own unique journey, and the way she formatted her ending accurately represents what was discussed throughout the novel.

With such unlimited possibilities, readers can project their own experiences, or what they hoped their experience would have been onto the characters.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of the rare fiction novels to tackle the topics of conversion therapy and homosexuality and portray them in such an organic manner.
Diverting from these topics, this book also acts as an eye into the past, acknowledging how far society has come in regards to equal rights.

There may still be people who don’t agree, but with assistance from The Miseducation Of Cameron Post and novels similar to it, society may be one step closer to ending intolerance against homosexuality.