Sunday, November 3, 2013


Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family SecretAnnie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a perfect book! Part mystery, part memoir, and a look at the evolution of the mental health industry in this country, author Steve Luxenberg, a senior editor with the Washington Post for many years, uses his investigative skills to tell the fascinating story of his family's secret.

And I would never have known about the fact that it had been chosen as the 2013 - 2014 Michigan Read except for my favorite retired Jackson District librarians. We gather twice a year for lunch and to catch up on each other's lives. Invariably we talk about books.

Not being a native Michigander, I was not familiar with Detroit's Eloise Hospital for the mentally ill and homeless which flourished during the Depression. What I heard that afternoon about Annie's Ghosts sounded so fascinating that I immediately went home and downloaded the book to my Kindle. Before two days had passed, I had finished everything including the extensive notes following the narrative.

All their growing up years, Steve and his siblings had been told by their mother Beth that she was an only child. In poor health and in her eighties, she mentioned a sister to a new doctor. Six months after she died, the secret made another appearance but this time there was a name: Annie.

Not only has Steve Luxenberg created a highly readable book, the kind librarians call non-fiction that reads like fiction, but he shares his approach to researching which has allowed him to discover all sorts of hidden pieces of information.

He also carefully expands the story beyond the original 'secret' to explain the way the world 'worked' and how people thought during that time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Title: Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret
Author: Steve Luxenberg
Genre: Memoir
No. of Pages: 416 pages
Copyright: May 5, 2009
ISBN: 1401322476
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Amazon Kindle

Steve Luxemberg has worked for more than thirty years as a reporter and editor having begun his career at The Baltimore Sun. He is now Associate Editor for The Washington Post and an author. Annie's Ghosts was chosen as a 2010 Notable Michigan Book among other honors.

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