Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret

Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret

by Steve Luxenberg

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Overview

  • The Great Michigan Read 2013-14
  • Michigan Notable Book for 2010
  • A Washington Post Book World's "Best Books of 2009," Memoir
Beth Luxenberg was an only child. Or so everyone thought. Six months after Beth's death, her secret emerged. It had a name: Annie.

Steve Luxenberg's mother always told people she was an only child. It was a fact that he'd grown up with, along with the information that some of his relatives were Holocaust survivors. However, when his mother was dying, she casually mentioned that she had had a sister she'd barely known, who early in life had been put into a mental institution. Luxenberg began his researches after his mother's death, discovering the startling fact that his mother had grown up in the same house with this sister, Annie, until her parents sent Annie away to the local psychiatric hospital at the age of 23.

Annie would spend the rest of her life shut away in a mental institution, while the family erased any hints that she had ever existed. Through interviews and investigative journalism, Luxenberg teases out her story from the web of shame and half-truths that had hidden it. He also explores the social history of institutions such as Eloise in Detroit, where Annie lived, and the fact that in this era (the 40s and 50s), locking up a troubled relative who suffered from depression or other treatable problems was much more common than anyone realizes today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401310196
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 05/11/2010
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 377,547
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Steve Luxenberg has been a senior editor with the Washington Post for 20 years. He lives in Baltimore, MD. This is his first book.

What People are Saying About This

Bob Woodward

Annie's Ghosts is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read . . . From mental institutions to the Holocaust, from mothers and fathers to children and childhood, with its mysteries, sadness, and joy—this book is one emotional ride. (Bob Woodward, author of The War Within and State of Denial)

Tony Horwitz

Steve Luxenberg sleuths his family's hidden history with the skills of an investigative reporter, the instincts of a mystery writer, and the sympathy of a loving son. His rediscovery of one lost woman illuminates the shocking fate of thousands of Americans who disappeared just a generation ago. (Tony Horwitz, author of A Voyage Long and Strange and Confederates in the Attic)

Deborah Tannen

I started reading within minutes of picking up this book, and was instantly mesmerized. It's a riveting detective story, a moving family saga, an enlightening if heartbreaking chapter in the history of America's treatment of people born with what we now call special needs. (Deborah Tannen, author of You Just Don't Understand and You're Wearing That?)

Helen Epstein

This is a memoir that pushes the journalistic envelope . . . Luxenberg has written a fascinating personal story as well as a report on our communal response to the mentally ill. (Helen Epstein, author of Where She Came From and Children of the Holocaust)

Customer Reviews