Book Review: Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg *****
The remainder of the book is Luxenberg's account of his attempt to learn more about his aunt, who lived a further thirty-two years after her commitment, and to understand why his caring, loving mother had felt the need to hide the fact of her sister's existence from everyone in her life. Along the way, he interviews many of his parents' old friends and relatives, archivists and psychiatrists, as well as visiting the town in Russia where his family originated. He also weaves in information about the history of mental health care in twentieth-century America, the eugenics movement, and the lives of Jewish immigrants in the early to mid-twentieth century.
Annie's Ghosts is a moving meditation on family secrets; the stigma all too often attached to disability, both physical and mental; and a son's coming to terms with the fears and cultural attitudes that informed his mother's choices in life.