by emily m. danforth
Balzer + Bray, 2012
Review by Amy Ridley on Feb 5th 2013
Cameron realizes that most kids wouldn't be relieved when hearing that their parents were just killed in a car accident but that's exactly how Cameron feels. It's not that they were bad parents. It's relief that they'll never know that their daughter was kissing another girl while they were going through a guardrail. Cameron's loss is soon overwhelming to her and even more so when she finds out that her over the top conservative Aunt Ruth will become her guardian. Cameron's grandmother moves in with them as well but Ruth is the one calling the shots which include going to a new church every Sunday and becoming part of their youth group which is extreme to say the least.
Perfect cowgirl Coley Taylor soon moves to town and Cameron is immediately smitten with her. She is very surprised when she finds herself hanging out with Coley thanks to Aunt Ruth. Their friendship seems unlikely with Coley being beautiful and good at everything and Cameron being the shy girl who hangs out with a gang of boys. Her feelings for Coley are growing stronger every day. The major problem with that is Coley's boyfriend. Cameron tries hard to hide her feelings for Coley, even going to the big dance with her best guy friend. She soon realizes that she may not be able to hide her feelings for Coley and Coley might be on to Cameron's hidden agenda. What shocks Cameron the most is that Coley might be interested as well.
Cameron soon finds herself in way over her head, lying to her friends and family trying to keep her secret from them. Her secret is soon exposed by the person she trusted the most. Aunt Ruth is determined to "fix" Cameron and sends her away to a boarding school that promises to do just that. The other kids there are in different stages of acceptance of the teachings and denial of where they are. Cameron finds herself completely cut off from everyone at home. They are all ashamed of her including her grandmother who can't even look at her. She finds friends at the school who help her deal with her current situation and help her make plans for her future.
This is a tough subject matter that is dealt with frankly and with complete honesty by Danforth. There's no easy solution for Cameron's problems with her aunt. Her only option is to not be true to herself and say she's been "cured". An interesting aspect of the book is when Cameron is hanging out with a friend who is also gay but lives in Seattle and doesn't face any of the persecution that Cameron does. She leads a much different life in a more accepting city than Cameron leads in buttoned-up Montana. Her influence on Cameron is apparent and she soon realizes she could lead a much different life in another city. It's heartbreaking to read about Cameron's shame and what she is put through at that school. She knows the people there to "fix" her can't do that and they're only working off their own agenda. This is such a relevant topic and while it's hard to read about how Cameron is treated by those she trusts most, it's important to know that these situations are very real even in today's society.
© 2013 Amy Ridley
Amy Ridley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University