Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Annie's Ghosts

I just finished reading Annie's Ghosts. A Journey Into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg. I can't remember who recommended it, but whoever it was, thank you.

It is a great read.  It isn't exactly --and it really is-- a family history book.  The author learned after his mother's death that she had a sister who was hidden away in an asylum until 20 years before his mother passed away.  He determined to search out the hows and whys and who knews of Annie and her life.

Luxenberg ferreted out every avenue for learning about Annie and in the process uncovered other family secrets.  I think his work is a good example for family historians, not only of the search, but also of seeking out individuals who can help answer questions, of interviewing, documenting, putting the events in context of the time period, and of sharing the results of his research.

Here are a few quotes from the book:

Just as secrets have a way of breaking loose, memories often have a way of breaking down.  They elude us, or aren't quite sharp enough, or fool us into remembering things that didn't quite happen that way.  Yet much as a family inhabits a house, memories inhabit our stories, make them breathe, give them life.  So we learn to live with the reality that what we remember is an imperfect version of what we know to be true. (on page 3)

Like so many of my questions, I had to believe that the answers were out there, and that with the right combination of luck and determination, I would discover them.  But sometimes, I felt like someone rummaging through a lost and found:  You go there looking for one item, and then you come across something else you didn’t even know was missing. (on pages 150-151)
All it takes is one–one name, one address, one correct piece of information–to wipe away weeks of frustration. (on page 177)
Has anyone else read Annie's Ghosts?  If so, what did you think?



  1. I haven't read it yet, but I do plan on doing so (I read a review of it a month or two ago and put it on my "to read" list).

  2. Nancy, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on Captured by Indians. Rebecca's story is so sad. I can't imagine the horror she went through and how she managed to go on.

  3. Nancy, many thanks for thinking to pull these quotes from the book. Don't know why I didn't even think to do that as I read Annie's Ghosts--I often do, but it just never occurred to me this time, even though I'm always on the lookout for good quotations pertaining to genealogy or family history. I guess that's a testament to how absorbed I was in the book!


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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