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?"
About the Author
Jona Frank (b. 1966, Camden, NJ) grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the daughter of an accountant and homemaker. Her previous books include High School (2004), Right: Portraits from the Evangelical Ivy League (2008), and The Modern Kids (2016). Frank's photographs have appeared in print and online publications including Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Mother Jones. Her films and photographs have been exhibited internationally and are held in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, SFMOMA, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. She lives in Santa Monica, California, where she is beloved for her cherry pie.
“The detail is exquisite, sometimes excruciating: the bleeding edge of peeled apple skin as the mother, her face tight, makes yet another pie.” —Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker
“In Cherry Hill, [Frank's] own pictures constitute a fully equal component of the memoir, as artfully composed as the accompanying text. . . . Cherry Hill resembles a dream, because like any artist, the young Jona was a dreamer." —Arthur Lubow, The New York Times
“It’s like holding a film in your hands.” —Laura Dern
“Enlisting Laura Dern to play your mother in a multimedia memoir is what one might call “a mood”—and executed here to brilliant effect.” —Vanity Fair
“In this eerily gorgeous and fascinating photo book/memoir, photographer Frank has re-created scenes from her own youth in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in the 1970s and ‘80s. [All] the trappings of the period are captured in Frank’s vividly colorful pictures.” —Kirkus Reviews
"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
“Reminiscent of a graphic novel and shot in a striking cinematic style, the imagery is vibrant and evocative. . . . Frank captures the tension of the time and readers can feel the tangible pressure she felt as a young girl looking to find her place in the world.” —Homes & Interiors Scotland
“Gorgeous and cool, Jona Frank’s photography collection, “Cherry Hill,” features the actress Laura Dern posed in a variety of situations, evocative of the artist’s own childhood. Could this be a new genre, the photographic memoir?” —Campus Circle
“Noteworthy.” —The Criterion Collection
“Through lavish set design and a cast of actors, Cherry Hill is a coming-of-tale tale about a child struggling with the confinements of domestic life.” —It’s Nice That
“Every once in a long while, a photobook can take you on a deep and meaningful journey; visually, emotionally, intellectually. Cherry Hill – A Childhood Reimagined by the incredibly talented Jona Frank is one of those books. . . . An astonishing, complex, original, and beautiful memoir.” —Elinor Carucci, artist
“It is an exciting, inventive format with writing that transports you to a girl’s inner life. The photographs are beautifully lit and constructed and you might just find yourself escaping into them, revisiting their details, quietly and on your own, like you did when you were a kid.” —Photomonitor
“Starring the inimitable Laura Dern, the 200 carefully staged photographs look to delineate the artist's growing up with a repressive mother figure and even more repressive expectations by cranking the white picket fence idealism up to 11 and thus rendering such false utopias ridiculous. . . . . Above all, the book looks to show the universal through the personal, presenting the struggles of girls grown-up and finding their place in both the family and in the world.” —Creative Boom
“Combine[s] text and image, playing on the rich associations of photography with truth and memory to tell personal histories.” —photo-eye
“The photographs are heartfelt but amusing. They could be straight out of a soap opera, if the episodes were soulful rather than facetious.” —artillery
“Akin to a graphic novel, this hybrid of personal essay and photography breaks open the memoir format.” —The Eye of Photography
“This book digs deep into one woman’s journey, yet, we come away with a story for all.” —Grenade in a Jar