Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret
Hyperion, 2009 (2009)
Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto
nnie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret
is a memoir, but it is so much more. Author Steve Luxenberg not only chronicles his own journey to uncover buried family secrets, he also gives a history lesson that takes readers into mental institutions and even to the Holocaust.
efore Steve Luxenberg's mother dies, there is an off-hand mention of a sister unknown to either Luxenberg or his siblings. His mother has always claimed to be an only child, so they think perhaps there was a sister who died in infancy or, maybe even as a toddler. It is not until after Steve's mother's death that the family discovers his mother did indeed have a sister, Annie, who died when she was in her early fifties, having been institutionalized since she was twenty-one.
urious, Luxenberg begins digging into his mother's past to find out more about Annie and why her existence was kept hidden. Along the way, he learns more family secrets while meeting relatives and old family friends he never met before.
is an engaging story from the first page on. Luxenberg leads the reader through his discoveries in the order he found out, letting us join his mystery-solving quest as he relives it. He also imparts knowledge about the long history of mental institutions and the Holocaust without ever being preachy, which helps keep to the premise of the book.
hile not a fast read,
is a solid non-fiction work. Steve Luxenberg has an amazing talent for drawing readers in and making them confidants as he shares intimate discoveries about his family. This is a beautiful book and a
for those interested in real-life secrets and family mysteries.
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