Sunday, June 21, 2009
Book Review: Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
Published by Hyperion Books
Rating: 4 stars
Annie's Ghosts is a real-life mystery about Beth Luxenberg (the author's mother), who always claimed to be an only child until one day at almost eight years old, she casually revealed the existence of a disabled sister. After Beth's death in 1999, more information about a secret sister was discovered, and Steve Luxenberg used his journalism skills to find out more. He tracked down old acquaintances and friends and persuaded people to offer records about his mother sister, Annie, who it turned out was hospitalized at age twenty-one and remained in a mental institution until her death many years later.
This book is incredibly interesting and rare, being a true account of a family's secrets and a mystery that the author set out to solve. The events that are uncovered as just as intriguing as one might imagine they would be.
Though there were some instances when the narrative was bogged down by too much detail, for the most part I enjoyed reading about the intricacies of the story. The most fascinating thing about this story is how each detail discovered led to another revelation and helped Luxenberg get one step closer to the truth. As such, this book also contains information about Beth and Annie's ancestry and provides a very well-rounded account of all that transpired in these women's lives.
This book also features information about the state of mental institutions years ago and provides an insider's look into how someone can fall through the cracks of the system. The terrible treatment of Annie and her physical and mental health is truly unfortunate, but the fact that Steve Luxenberg has searched for meaning and answers about his aunt, pays tribute to her name and respect for the life she lived.
For a wonderful combination of mystery and history, this book comes highly recommended.
BIG THANKS to Julie of FSB Associates for my review copy