The night Cameron Post’s parents died, her first emotion was relief. Relief they would never know that, hours earlier, she’d been kissing a girl.
Now living with her conservative aunt in small-town Montana, hiding her sexuality and blending in and becomes second nature to Cameron until she begins an intense friendship with the beautiful Coley Taylor.
Desperate to ‘correct’ her niece, Cameron’s aunt takes drastic action.
Now Cameron must battle with the cost of being her true self – even if she’s not completely sure who that is.
This is a book I’ve heard so much about and had a copy for maybe even longer. I put this book on my spring TBR and when I saw there was a film for it on Netflix, I knew I had to read it soon. And then it took me forever to finish.
This book, despite what I had heard about it before, is not really around Cameron being sent to a conversion camp, though that is part of it, but of her dealing with her sexuality in the 1990s when all her information comes from the other kids and adults in her small town. She makes a friend from out of town who she can talk to about everything and seems to be coming to terms with being gay but she also has to deal with her parents’ death and dealing with her aunt who is now her guardian.
The plot of this book was slow-paced, especially the first half, and I found myself putting it down so many times and not that inclined to pick it back up as it was before I liked Cameron as a character. By the end of the book I did really like Cameron and was rooting for her but it took me a while for Cameron to grow on me and it meant that the first half of the book, where it was mostly character growth and plot points that took a while to get to, was definitely not my favourite. In the second half of the book, when she went to the Camp, everything sped up as Cameron was forced to come to terms with part of herself and defend her right to be herself against people who want to crush that as much as possible. It was far more interesting for me to read Cameron finding her quiet ways to rebel and how the other kids dealt with being in the camp (major trigger warnings for self-harm) than it was for me to read about Cameron dealing with being in love with her best friend with lots of internal thoughts.
When it comes down to it, I only really liked about a hundred pages of this novel and I think part of this is because it was sold to me as Cameron having to deal with her parents’ death and being sent to conversion camp, which is true, but is a small part of this book. This book is really about Cameron discovering her sexuality and dealing with the pain of first love, more than anything else. The hundred pages I liked were in the camp when Cameron was making new friends, finding out more about herself and what she could tolerate and what she couldn’t and it was far more fast-paced then the rest of the book. Not to mention I was left with a lot of unanswered questions by the end of the book, I wish there had been an extra chapter added onto the book, rather than just mild hints throughout the book <spoiler>that Cameron survived running away from the camp</i>.
This book took me a long time to read and I think the anticipation hurt my enjoyment of the book. I didn’t hate this book but I think I would have preferred a different book with this main character and this premise.