"The Miseducation of Cameron Post" by emily m. danforth, Chapters 1-4

April 18, 2018
After the death of her parents, a teenage girl struggles with her identity.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-4, Chapters 5-8, Chapters 9-12, Chapters 13-16, Chapters 17-19
“It’s too hot for shenanigans, Cameron,” Grandma had told me, right after she said yes.
Irene’s parents had a big cattle ranch out toward Broadus, and even all the way out there—once you turned off MT 59 and it was rutted roads through clumps of gray sagebrush and pink sandstone hills that sizzled and crisped in the sun—the Klausons had central air.
Irene and I fought over shotgun when my mom was driving, or her mom was driving, but when we were riding in the Bel Air, we sat in the backseat and pretended to be in the Grey Poupon commercials, with Grandma as our chauffeur, her tenaciously black hair in a newly set permanent just visible to us over the seat back.
“Tell me your mom’s Quake Lake story again,” Irene said, plopping herself into a lawn chair and letting her long legs hang limp over the plastic arm, those tarry flip-flops heavy and dangling from her toes.
Eventually we wandered away from my house, no plan, just the two of us meandering through shady neighborhoods.
Mr. Klauson knew that too; how he had to lift his calloused hand and take them away from me at eleven p.m. one hot night at the end of June—summer vacation, root beer and stolen bubble gum, stolen kisses—the very good life for a twelve-year-old, when I still had mostly everything figured out, and the stuff I didn’t know seemed like it would come easy enough if I could just wait for it, and anyway there’d always be Irene with me, waiting too.
She had a brooch on her lapel that looked like a spread of poker chips, with WINNER’S in shiny gold across the arch, but it was pinned crooked.
“You doing okay, kiddo?” she asked me, stepping closer, the requisite arm around me, her signature hug.
We were lifted up into the hot embrace of the ever-blackening Montana sky, the lights from the midway sluicing us in their fluorescent glow, a tinny kind of ragtime music plinking out from somewhere deep in the center of the wheel.
So I went to school and I stayed in my room and I watched everything, everything, without any discretion...
So they’d had her diagnosed, had the benign tumors removed, save the one on her back, which never changed much.
I thought it was weird that she, shiny, perfect, glowy Ruth, was so glib about having a bunch of tumors hacked off her nerves (this batch was on her right thigh, apparently, and also one behind her knee); but she’d had it done enough now that it was just what she did, I guess, every half decade or so: one more piece of the beauty routine with a little more effort involved.
“You would have liked your grandpa Wynton. And he would have liked you. He was very much a rapscallion.”
Dad had painted it a blue he called cerulean, and I thought that name was so pretty that I named the first doll to live in the house Sarah Cerulean.
There was a fence made to look like ornate wrought iron around the little platform yard, which was done up with synthetic turf scraps left over from the indoor soccer field in Billings.
The weeds alongside the highway were partially gilded in death from the frosts at night—parts of them gold and ochre, dried and curled, but the rest of the weeds still green, hanging on, trying to keep growing.
Her blond curls—she’d taken to spending a lot of time in the mornings smoothing a special cream into them and then blow-drying them just so—hung in front of her face as she did this, making her look young, cherubic even.
The real, live, bought-from-the-VFW-booth Christmas tree was a concession of Ruth’s.
Being a true believer meant helping others, lots of others, to believe just like me. To be an agent of God for evangelizing the world.
Rather than convincing me of the righteousness of this kind of believing, rather than making me certain of its correctness, it made me question, and doubt, all the more.

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