The Miseducation of Cameron Post; a novel
"The afternoon my parents died, I was out shoplifting with Irene Klausen" is just how this novel begins. Cameron Post is a very unique character; she's 12, she shoplifts, thinks about girls, and has the wide open space of Miles City, Montana to explore. Her life doesn't change much after her parents die in a car accident. She hangs out with Irene and practices for swim meets except now she spends a lot of time in her room watching VHS movies on a television she moved from her parent's bedroom. You get the sense she misses her parents and she does meet with a school counselor yet she doesn't spend much time grieving. She doesn't realize until later all that she's lost.
Her mother's sister, Ruth, leaves her home in Florida to move in with Cameron. Her grandmother continues to stay with her so Cameron is in the same house/town/school she is familiar with and life keeps spinning along. While she's had a few small romances along the way it isn't until Cameron runs into Coley Taylor at church that that life turns upside down for her.
I want all of you to read the book fresh so I'm not going to say more other than Ms. Danforth has created such an easily read (470 pgs worth) story that you just have to keep reading more and more until you come to the last page and then you still want more. Her characters are so fully developed that even the bad characters have redeeming qualities. Two sidekicks of Cameron's, Jamie and Adam, were favorites of mine. This story will stay with you for a long time with its fine writing; marvelous wit and brutal honest look at how we try to mold people into what they are not.
"She reached around the locker door and grabbed my arm all dramatic-like. "I'll call Ruth. I'll do it. I'll call her and tell her you've being all weirdo loner again and won't come to prom and you know she won't let off you. She'll have all sorts of ideas about eligible bachelors."
"You're a terrible person and I hate you."
"So who do you want me to ask?"...(131)
When you were here
This one, also about an orphaned child, is very well-written and has a unique look at teenagers as humans; young adults who make mistakes but that can move on and learn. There is drug use and sex along with death and dying.
Danny's mother has just died after a five year struggle with cancer. His father died six years ago in an accident which means Danny is now alone. He's valedictorian of his class and the only people with him at his graduation ceremony are Kate, his mom's best friend and Kate's daughter, Holland. He feels adrift until he receives a letter from one of his mom's friends in Tokyo. His mom was undergoing a unique treatment in Japan and Danny feels drawn to understand more about her though-process. Suddenly he has a purpose; he will go to Tokyo, meet this friend, and spend time trying to understand more about his mom through the last places she visited before she died. Danny's relationship with his mom as well as Holland's relationship with her mom both attest to the idea that kids can screw up and still maintain positive relationships with their parents. The only drawback to this book is that most teens do not have the kind of money that Danny is given. It works and it is well-explained but enviable.
I press. "How was she taking care of my mom if she died?" I am sick of beating around the bush. I want to know what all these legends, all this tea and happiness and healing cures, are supposed to mean. "In case you didn't know, she died. Okay? There was no cure. The tea didn't work. Turns out it's not mystical after all. She's gone. Done. sayonara. The jig is up." My voice is caustic, the words corrosive, but inside I just want so badly to know all the things my mom never told me. (111)
I checked both of these out from my local library.