The following book review was written by Bobbi King:
Buried Secrets, Looking for Frank and Ida
by Anne Hanson. Published by New England Books. 2022. 359 pages
This is a nonfiction family history story with imagined scenarios, but founded upon factual research, nonfictional ancestors, real-life families, and a dedicated quest by the author to find answers to some perplexing family unknowns. As she writes the the story, she departs from the common narrative devoted largely to the recitation of facts to a storytelling style that mixes facts with fiction. The story jumps back and forth from decades-ago events to present time, but the skips are well-defined and there’s no confusion.
Buried Secrets reads like a novel. It’s set in the first-person, the author is telling us her story as if we were all casually sitting around the dinner table and dawdling over dessert. Frank and Ida Hanson are her grandparents, and she’s telling the story defined by a mystery. It’s set mostly in the 1950s, a time familiar to many.
The author’s father had sparse knowledge about his parents’ lives. The kids and grandkids tried for many years to put together the family tree, with little success. Then a box materialized, filled with old family photos. And here the search story begins, with the author leading us down her path of research and discoveries, with creative versions of what might of happened, what conversations might have taken place, imagined scenes of her ancestors’ experiences, all added in to supplement the known parts, in order to make the story more alive and full.
There are plenty of photos in the book: vacationing families, couples arm-in-arm, kids posed outside their homes in winter and summer.
But there is plenty of authenticity. The author writes about the memories of her childhood, reviews the stories told to her by aunts, uncles, and relatives, and recounts her research trips and celebrates her discoveries. She finally did uncover the years-old secrets that perplexed her father, which now add depth to the family story
This is a highly detailed memoir of Ms. Hanson’s memories and research on her family. It took a long time and a lot of work to put the story together, but the author has done so with solid background research and imaginative storytelling.
This is a unique and extraordinary gift to her family.
Buried Secrets, Looking for Frank and Ida may be ordered from Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Buried-Secrets-Looking-Frank-Ida/dp/B0BF2XBBTN.