Sunday, July 5, 2009

Amazing Forgiveness

I heard a few minutes of a radio interview with the authors of this book, which made me immediately request it from my library. Picking Cotton, by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton, and Erin Torneo alternates between the story of Thompson-Cannino's rape and her testimony against the man she identified as her rapist and Cotton's fight to prove his innocence in the face of her convincing eye-witness testimony. When DNA testing finally frees Cotton after eleven years of prison, he has to start his life all over again. She eventually comes to apologize to him, and when they keep meeting at various events demonstrating the risks of eye-witness testimony they become friends.

Erin Torneo has helped them writing a gripping story, that covers both the horror and devastation of the crime -- Thompson-Cannino's life is wrenched askew by the trauma, and many of her relationships never recover -- and the parallel tragedy of Cotton's repeated trials and convictions for a crime he abhorred. The final sections after his release show him rebuilding his life, her secure family first rocked by the revelation of her mistake, and then their friendship after she brings herself to meet him to apologize for her mistake. The final chapters also address how mistakes in identity can happen, but the focus of the book is on the people involved.

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