*Starred Review* Throughout her life, Luxenberg’s mother, Beth, reveled in her status as an only child. Then, a few years before her death in 1999—and utterly out of the blue—she admitted to having a mentally and physically disabled younger sister named Annie, who died in 1972. Beth’s failing health precluded Luxenberg and his siblings from learning any more. After Beth’s passing, Luxenberg set out in search of answers. His dual roles as reporter and son proved both blessing and curse; the journalist dug furiously for facts, while the son wondered if long-buried secrets were best kept that way. His questions were many: What prompted Annie’s commitment, at age 21, to Eloise Hospital, southeastern Michigan’s sprawling psychiatric facility? Why was there next to no record of her early years? Most baffling of all, why did Beth, two years Annie’s senior, refuse for so long to acknowledge her sibling’s existence? Armed with superb investigative skills and relentless determination, Washington Post senior editor Luxenberg tracked down remaining family and friends and interviewed an exhaustive list of experts who might shed light on Annie’s plight. Part memoir, part mystery, part history of the mental-health movement, Annie’s Ghosts is a fascinating account of a life lived in the shadows and a family beset by despair. --Allison Block
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, his wise, affecting new mamoir of family secrets and posthumous absolution. . . . Beth told her son often that she loved him. Annie's Ghosts
is his elegy in return, a poignant investigative exercise, full of empathy and sorrowful truth."—The Washington Post
"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 Confederates in the Attic
will resonate for many, whether the chords have to do with family secrets, the Depression, memories of a thriving Detroit, Holocausts horrors, or the immigrant experience.
"For me, the word to describe this book: Unforgettable."—Detroit Free Press
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
"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?
"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