Framing Innocence

Posted on 17 September 2010

Last night, I headed out to Mac’s Backs (the east side on a weeknight! I deserve an award) to attend the reading and discussion for Lynn Powell’s new book Framing Innocence: A Mother’s Photographs, a Prosecutor’s Zeal, and a Small Town’s Response.

From the flap copy:

Ten years ago, amateur photographer and school bus driver Cynthia Stewart dropped off eleven rolls of film at a drugstore near her home in Ohio. The rolls contained photographs of her eight-year-old daughter Nora, including two of the child in the shower—photos that would cause the county prosecutor to arrest Cynthia, take her away in handcuffs, threaten to remove her daughter from her home, and charge her with crimes that carried the possibility of sixteen years in prison.

This all went down in the small, liberal college town of Oberlin, Ohio. Lynn, who lives in Oberlin and participated in the town’s grassroot support efforts during the court case, conducted painstaking research for this book. She interviewed countless people and reviewed everything from the family’s answering machine messages to drawings by a young Nora.

Here’s a Plain Dealer column that gets both Cynthia and Nora’s perspectives on the case and Lynn’s book.

This is such a rich and provocative story for so many reasons. But as Lynn discussed last night at the reading, the community’s reaction to the charges and immense support is really what makes this story so exceptional.

I had a sneak peek of the first few chapters last year, but I haven’t yet read the book yet. So now I have my freshly signed copy and plan to spend this weekend — when I’m not frantically revising my novel, that is — with Lynn’s book.


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