Beth Luxenberg was an only child. Everyone knew it: Her grown children, her friends, even people she'd only just met. So when Steve Luxenberg's sister called him to ask, "Did you know Mom had a sister?," he was bewildered. A sister? Luxenberg was certain that his mother was an only child, just as he knew that her name was Beth and that she had raised her children to, above all else, tell the truth. By then Beth was nearly 80 and in fragile health; while seeing a new doctor, she had mentioned a disabled sister, sent away at age two. But why? Was she retarded? Mentally ill? Was she still alive? The questions were dizzying, but the answers out of reach: Beth had said she didn't know what had happened to her sister. Beth died in 1999, her secret intact. Six months later, it surfaced once more, uninvited and unforeseen. This time, though, the secret had a name: Annie. Steve Luxenberg began to dig. And as he dug, he uncovered more and more, both puzzling and shocking: His mother's name wasn't Beth, and his aunt hadn't been sent away when she was two. Annie was hospitalized when she was 21, and her older sister, 23. The sisters had grown up together. Annie spent the rest of her life in a mental institution, while Luxenberg's mother set out to erase her sister's existence. Employing his skills as a journalist while struggling to maintain his empathy as a son, Luxenberg pieces together the story of his mother's motivations, his aunt's life, and the time in which they lived. Combining the power of reportage with the intrigue of mystery, Annie's Ghosts explores the nature of self-deception and self-preservation. The result is equal parts memoir, social history, and riveting detective story.