Book Review, Family Relationships, Memoirs

Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg

ef6915d875944e459394d375551417941414141“Without really trying, I have become a collector of other families’ secrets.” –Steve Luxenberg.

Steve Luxenberg’s memoir reads like a mystery.  In the Spring of 1995, Steve finds out that his mother, Beth, had a sister, Annie, who was mentally and physically disabled.  This and other family secrets unfold in a number of shocking revelations and frustrating dead ends.

His story explores the history of mental institutions and how those patients had fewer rights than criminals.  It explores the life of poor Jewish immigrants who tried to make ends meet the best way they knew how by sacrificing things they held dear.  Most importantly it is a personal story of a man who wants to find answers to get closure from a life of secrets.

Steve is a journalist for The Washington Post and the perfect person to do research for his families’ story.  Through interviews, letters, documents, and hospital records he traces Annie’s history which kept this reader on the edge of her seat.  I commend Steve for telling such a personal story which helps us to reflect on what is important to us in our lives.