Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review – Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret

518WUYrYGjL._SL110_ Title:  Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret

Author:  Steve Luxenberg

Format:  Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle eBook, Nook eBook

Published:  2009

Synopsis:  (from the author’s website) “My mother was an only child. That’s what she told everyone, sometimes within minutes of meeting them. When I heard that my mother had been hiding the existence of a sister, I was bewildered. A sister? I was certain that she had no siblings, just as I knew that her name was Beth, that she had no middle name, and that she had raised her children to, above all, tell the truth.”

This book was recommended on the Kindle for Genealogy Facebook group, by Debbie Blanton McCoy (a fellow genealogy blogger), who said she purchased the Kindle version after hearing the author speak in June.  While I echoed her sentiment about spending $9.99 for an eBook, she did say "it's worth the price" so I took a chance and made the purchase.

Luxenberg is a journalist by trade and he really put his investigative know-how to work during his quest to find the truth about his aunt, Annie, and why his mother had kept Annie a secret.  The book was way for the author to share the story while taking the reader along for the ride. 

As a genealogist, I appreciate how the story unfolded.  A little nugget here, another piece there, and the dots start to connect and the mystery starts to be revealed.  From a research perspective, I admire the lengths Luxenberg went to in seeking out experts to help him decipher the information he collected so it could be put into context relevant to the place and time.

Ultimately the author learns more about his roots than he originally sought.  And although he will never know the exact truth of the matter, his exploration of the past does provide some closure and a better understanding of his mother.

Annie’s Ghosts was an interesting read.  I learned a lot about life in Detroit during the 1900s (somewhat applicable since I have family from nearby Oakland County) and quite a bit about the mental health system in the mid-1900s.  There were stories that made me smile and others that made me whimper, as I followed along on the author's journey to discover the missing piece to his family. 

Overall, it’s a great book that’s well-written and well-developed.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in genealogy or history, or someone who just likes a good mystery.

For more information about the book, the author, or purchasing options, you can visit the author’s website at http://www.steveluxenberg.com.


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