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Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret

by Steve Luxenberg

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46312145,498 (3.87)64
Traces the author's surprise discovery that his late mother had had a sister who was sent away under mysterious circumstances and never mentioned by the family again, his efforts to research his long-lost aunt's story and whereabouts, and his struggles to understand the secrecy of her existence.
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Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
"Secrets, I've discovered, have a way of working themselves free of their keepers."

One of my favorite true & local mysteries.

Steve remembers his mom always saying that she was an only child, but that changes with a single phone call in April of 1995.
( )
  ShannonRose4 | Sep 15, 2020 |
More like 4 1/2 stars. Fantastic book. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
This is a detective story, and it’s a mystery, and it’s true. Steve Luxenberg, a journalist, investigates the life of the aunt he never knew or knew of and the secret his mother kept to her dying day.

Luxenberg hears it first from his sister. Now adults, both their parents dead, it seems their mother, Beth, had a sister, Annie, who they had never heard of. And so begin the mysteries: Did Beth really have a sister? Why had she kept this secret? What was Annie’s story?

So he takes time off work at the WASHINGTON POST to investigate. He lays it out in chronological order, and the reader follows as he learns that, yes, Beth did have a sister named Annie who lived in an insane asylum in Detroit for more than 30 years until her death. And they never knew. But who did? Why was Annie left there, and why didn’t Beth want anyone to know?

ANNIE’S GHOSTS is so interesting, even mesmerizing. I’m glad I read it and only wish I had when it was named a Michigan Notable Book in 2009. ( )
  techeditor | Sep 14, 2017 |
More like 4 1/2 stars. Fantastic book. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
One of those book length magazine articles, though it kept me reading.
His mother always described herself as an only child, but in her last years her kids discovered she’d had a sister who spent most of her life in a county hospital for the insane. Since this son is an investigative reporter he researched the family secret.
He got his aunt’s medical records and learned she was diagnosed as both retarded and schizophrenic. Professionals he consulted agreed she was certainly low IQ and clearly was paranoid and unstable, though “schizophrenic – undifferentiated” isn’t a category used today.
Other documents led him to a cousin who knew both sisters. He’d never known her because she and his mother had a falling out. This woman survived the Holocaust, the only one in her family, with false papers and worked as a translator for the Nazis. After the war she came to the US and got to know his mother. They fell out because she didn’t approve of how his mother treated the sister.
There are a lot of twists and turns, some more interesting than others. He’s shocked by some things that seem mundane, like his grandparents being first cousins. At the end he tries to tie Annie’s fate to the Holocaust somehow, which didn’t really work.
Despite medical records describing how difficult his aunt was, he sometimes seems ashamed and judgmental of his mother’s choice to keep Annie a secret. As the daughter of someone with two siblings who caused a lot of family grief and who distanced herself from them, I'm not shocked by this story or by the mother’s decision. ( )
  piemouth | Feb 16, 2016 |
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To Mom and Annie, too late to be set free;
to "the 5,000," who still might be;
and to Mary Jo, who stands alone
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The secret emerged, without warning or provocation, on an ordinary April afternoon in 1995.
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Traces the author's surprise discovery that his late mother had had a sister who was sent away under mysterious circumstances and never mentioned by the family again, his efforts to research his long-lost aunt's story and whereabouts, and his struggles to understand the secrecy of her existence.

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LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Steve Luxenberg's book Annie’s Ghosts was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

LibraryThing Author

Steve Luxenberg is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Steve Luxenberg chatted with LibraryThing members from Jul 22, 2009 to Aug 8, 2009. Read the chat.

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Hyperion and Voice

2 editions of this book were published by Hyperion and Voice.

Editions: 1401322476, 1401310192

 

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