A memoir by photographic artist Jona Frank told in captivating stories and poignant images with a cast of actors, including Laura Dern and Imogene Wolodarsky, Cherry Hill tells the story of one girl’s suburban youth and deliverance.
Cherry Hill is a multimedia memoir of photographic artist Jona Frank’s upbringing in–and flight from–a stifling suburban household. Told in words and evocative photographs, Frank’s account of her childhood struggles with a repressive mother, mentally ill brother, and overwhelming expectations is leavened with episodes from her rich interior world.
Akin to a graphic novel, this hybrid of personal essay and photography breaks open the memoir format, detailing the life of a young artist as she spends her days dreaming of a friendship with Emily Dickinson, longing for Bruce Springsteen and eschewing the rules of femininity. Frank employs a cinematic approach to construct vivid scenes from her youth. Using elaborately dressed sets, era-specific wardrobes, and multiple actors to portray herself as a child, Frank refashions her memories into vibrant tableaux. Strikingly, Frank cast Academy Award-winning actor Laura Dern in the role of her strict and complicated mother in a performance as bravura as her film and television work.
As Frank outgrows the confines of her environment and suffocating domestic life, discovering art and photography as the path to her personal fulfillment, she plots her ultimate escape. A unique photographic storytelling project reminiscent of such classics as Fun Home and The Best We Could Do, Cherry Hill is an intimate self-portrait of what it takes to break free of convention and answer the question, “Who am I meant to be?”
“Truly the most satisfying memoir I have ever seen or read. Brilliant and beautiful and weird, Cherry Hill is like entering someone’s dreams.” —Hanna Rosin, host of NPR’s Invisibilia
“Jona Frank’s photographs decant whole narratives; her prose unfurls in vivid scenes. You may (and probably won’t be able to help but) fly through this heart-brimming bildungs-memoir in a single extended sitting, but that’s just the start. The experience will likely haunt you for days and grace your life long thereafter. Remember, Remember, child Jona’s inner voice thrums throughout the story, desperately. And thanks to the adult Jona’s liberating act of reclamatory witness, we do!“ —Lawrence Weschler, author of Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees
“With characteristic humor and compassion, photographer Jona Frank uses her medium to capture and reframe that which so often remains unseen: the interior landscapes that define our childhood and, in turn, our sense of self. Cherry Hill conveys the monumentality of the everyday, and speaks to the all-too-often underestimated superpower of simply noticing.” —Anne Collins Goodyear, Co-director, Bowdoin College Museum of Art