Inheritance
The acclaimed and beloved author of Hourglass now gives us a new memoir about identity, paternity, and family secrets—a real-time exploration of the staggering discovery she recently made about her father, and her struggle to piece together the hidden story of her own life.What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history—the life she had lived—crumbled beneath her.Inheritance is a book about secrets—secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in—a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.Timely and unforgettable, Dani Shapiro’s memoir is a gripping, gut-wrenching exploration of genealogy, paternity, and love.

Inheritance Details

TitleInheritance
Author
ReleaseJan 15th, 2019
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139781524732714
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Biography Memoir

Inheritance Review

  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    A compelling exploration of paternity, identity, and belonging, Inheritance centers on a shocking discovery about the author's ancestry. In early 2016, after submitting her DNA for analysis through Ancestry.com on a whim, Dani Shapiro found out that she is not in fact biologically related to her deceased father, an Ashkenazi Jew. The acclaimed memoirist has spent her career writing about family history and Jewish culture, and Inheritance recounts the turmoil she experienced over the discovery as A compelling exploration of paternity, identity, and belonging, Inheritance centers on a shocking discovery about the author's ancestry. In early 2016, after submitting her DNA for analysis through Ancestry.com on a whim, Dani Shapiro found out that she is not in fact biologically related to her deceased father, an Ashkenazi Jew. The acclaimed memoirist has spent her career writing about family history and Jewish culture, and Inheritance recounts the turmoil she experienced over the discovery as well as her quest to track down her biological father. The memoir's a bit repetitive, but Shapiro explores the ethical and existential questions at the heart of her journey in great detail.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Dani Shapiro was used to strangers’ comments about her blond hair and blue eyes. How could it be that she was raised an Orthodox Jew? people wondered. It never occurred to her that there was any truth to these hurtful jokes. On a whim, in her fifties, she joined her husband in sending off a DNA test kit. It came back with alarming results: she was only half Ashkenazi Jew, and she and her father’s daughter from a previous marriage were unrelated. A vague memory of her mother jesting about her onl Dani Shapiro was used to strangers’ comments about her blond hair and blue eyes. How could it be that she was raised an Orthodox Jew? people wondered. It never occurred to her that there was any truth to these hurtful jokes. On a whim, in her fifties, she joined her husband in sending off a DNA test kit. It came back with alarming results: she was only half Ashkenazi Jew, and she and her father’s daughter from a previous marriage were unrelated. A vague memory of her mother jesting about her only daughter’s unromantic conception in Philadelphia quickly led Shapiro to discover that she’d been a test tube baby created at Edmond Farris’s dodgy institute in the early 1960s, when donor sperm was routinely mixed with the father’s “sluggish” sperm – possibly without the would-be parents’ explicit consent.Within 36 hours of starting research into her origins, thanks to online genetic databases, Shapiro had found her biological father, whom she calls Dr. Ben Walden, and even e-mailed him with her findings. She was amazed to finally find someone who looked like her, their similarities even extending to their gestures and habits. Walden had donated sperm over a period of time as a medical student, and at first seemed wary of interacting with Shapiro, no doubt worried she’d be just the first of a string of half-siblings wanting his recognition. But in the year that followed, their families carefully built up a real relationship.The whole experience was memoirist’s gold, undoubtedly, but Shapiro does more than just give a blow-by-blow; she also weaves in childhood memories, the history of artificial insemination, flashbacks to the parents who raised her (both long dead, her father decades earlier in a car crash), and a moving account of her emotional state as she pondered her identity and what her sense of family would be in the future. It’s uncanny, she notes, that family secrets played such a pivotal role in her novels, long before she ever knew of the one at the heart of her history. Shapiro’s prose reminds me of Ann Patchett’s. I’ll be reading the rest of her memoirs for sure, starting with Slow Motion. (Releases on January 15th.)Favorite lines:“I tell my students, who are concerned with the question of betrayal, that when it comes to memoir, there is no such thing as absolute truth—only the truth that is singularly their own.”“I kept reminding myself that everything I had built—my family, my personhood—was unaltered. My new knowledge changed both everything and nothing. My life was like one of those large and complicated jigsaw puzzles that, once finished, displayed a completely different image on the reverse side.”A rabbi friend tells her: “You can say, ‘This is impossible, terrible.’ Or you can say, ‘This is beautiful, wonderful.’”
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  • Marika
    January 1, 1970
    Not many memoirs make me sit up and say woah. Dani Shapiro's book *Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love* is THAT book. Dani, like many of us, submitted a sample of DNA for testing and for fun, but unlike many of us, she received shocking news that her father wasn't her biological father. Her whole life Dani was always told that she didn't look Jewish, even from family members. So to get the news that her father wasn't her biological father made sense...in a way. What mystery w Not many memoirs make me sit up and say woah. Dani Shapiro's book *Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love* is THAT book. Dani, like many of us, submitted a sample of DNA for testing and for fun, but unlike many of us, she received shocking news that her father wasn't her biological father. Her whole life Dani was always told that she didn't look Jewish, even from family members. So to get the news that her father wasn't her biological father made sense...in a way. What mystery was her mother and father hiding from her and why? Dani also grew up feeling like she never belonged. Maybe on a cellular level her body knew. This memoir will keep you guessing until the end. Which is unique for a memoir. It's a suspenseful memoir.I read an advance copy and was not compensated.
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  • Shelly
    January 1, 1970
    This is an excellent memoir about a woman who decides to do an Ancestry.com DNA test. She did it on a whim, not expecting to find out her father is not her biological father. It's a fascinating topic to read about. More than once I've clicked on links of articles in Washington Post or elsewhere that talk about people finding out family secrets as a result of those DNA tests. This memoir is special, though. It has the added complexity of faith and that aspect of identity, which is particularly im This is an excellent memoir about a woman who decides to do an Ancestry.com DNA test. She did it on a whim, not expecting to find out her father is not her biological father. It's a fascinating topic to read about. More than once I've clicked on links of articles in Washington Post or elsewhere that talk about people finding out family secrets as a result of those DNA tests. This memoir is special, though. It has the added complexity of faith and that aspect of identity, which is particularly important considering Dani Shapiro's upbringing as an Orthodox Jew. It's also written by talented writer and I'll definitely be looking into her novels and more of her memoirs.(This book is out January 15th. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from someone given it who had other reading interests. Freebies do not influence my reviews.)
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  • Sue Dix
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you firsttoread.com and Penguin Books for this ARC. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I have only read one other book by this author, and I wondered at the time why I just couldn’t connect with her story. Perhaps this book is the explanation. Haunting her for her entire life, a sense of otherness, unconnectedness, must have come through her writing. Filled with painful honesty, Inheritance is a compelling memoir of personal discovery. I strongly recommend this book. It is an intense exper Thank you firsttoread.com and Penguin Books for this ARC. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I have only read one other book by this author, and I wondered at the time why I just couldn’t connect with her story. Perhaps this book is the explanation. Haunting her for her entire life, a sense of otherness, unconnectedness, must have come through her writing. Filled with painful honesty, Inheritance is a compelling memoir of personal discovery. I strongly recommend this book. It is an intense experience.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book in two sittings—in fact, it is now 2:38 AM. I’ve just put down the book to opine to strangers on Goodreads that, despite a complaint from a disgruntled reader that the book is “self-indulgent”—I, too, was initially distrusting—trust me when I say that it gets better. If it speaks to you the way it has spoken to me, you’ll be up in the early hours, keen to find out what will happen next on Shapiro’s journey to discover her biological father, and also to understand how, exactly, a I read this book in two sittings—in fact, it is now 2:38 AM. I’ve just put down the book to opine to strangers on Goodreads that, despite a complaint from a disgruntled reader that the book is “self-indulgent”—I, too, was initially distrusting—trust me when I say that it gets better. If it speaks to you the way it has spoken to me, you’ll be up in the early hours, keen to find out what will happen next on Shapiro’s journey to discover her biological father, and also to understand how, exactly, a person’s identity is bound up in relationships with people. Her revelations—you’ll have to live with this book to know them—pierced me to the core. When this book comes out in January, you can bet your bottom dollar that I—a proud bookseller at my local indie—will be selling as many copies of INHERITANCE as I possibly can. It’s worth the sleepless night.
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  • Margo Littell
    January 1, 1970
    Inheritance is as lyrical and deeply moving as Shapiro’s other memoirs, but it also brings a new urgency to her well-honed personal storytelling. From the moment Shapiro accidentally discovers the secret at the heart of her very existence, her quest for answers unfolds starkly and sometimes heartbreakingly, and she brings her readers along with characteristic perceptiveness and generosity of spirit. There is stark beauty in hewing this close to the bone, and Inheritance is both luminous and cour Inheritance is as lyrical and deeply moving as Shapiro’s other memoirs, but it also brings a new urgency to her well-honed personal storytelling. From the moment Shapiro accidentally discovers the secret at the heart of her very existence, her quest for answers unfolds starkly and sometimes heartbreakingly, and she brings her readers along with characteristic perceptiveness and generosity of spirit. There is stark beauty in hewing this close to the bone, and Inheritance is both luminous and courageous. For readers familiar with Shapiro’s other works, the new truths cast an achingly melancholic clarity over the others--rendering them somehow even more true and lovely than before.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    Dani Shapiro took a DNA test. The man she believed to be her biological father was not. She discovered her parents difficult conceiving a child led them to a clinic where her mother was artificially inseminated not with her father's sperm but with that of a young doctor. A first cousin match led to the man's identity. Correspondence between Shapiro and her biological father took place. The eventually met. While I enjoyed the DNA story, the publication of the memoir revealing the man's identity a Dani Shapiro took a DNA test. The man she believed to be her biological father was not. She discovered her parents difficult conceiving a child led them to a clinic where her mother was artificially inseminated not with her father's sperm but with that of a young doctor. A first cousin match led to the man's identity. Correspondence between Shapiro and her biological father took place. The eventually met. While I enjoyed the DNA story, the publication of the memoir revealing the man's identity appears to be a violation of genetic genealogy ethics, particularly when she continually voiced the man's concern for privacy. I received an advance electronic copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I hope the final version includes her biological father's consent to be named.
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  • Chantal
    January 1, 1970
    https://chantalreviews.blogspot.com/2...This memoir, which is in four parts, is Dani Shapiro's most intimate memoir to date. Shapiro who has always considered herself her father's daughter is devastated to learn that he is not her biological father.Despite clues along the way, nothing clicks until she takes a DNA test. She expected to find that she is 100% Jewish but the test reveals something else altogether. She is biologically related to her mother but not to her father. Gradually, more detai https://chantalreviews.blogspot.com/2...This memoir, which is in four parts, is Dani Shapiro's most intimate memoir to date. Shapiro who has always considered herself her father's daughter is devastated to learn that he is not her biological father.Despite clues along the way, nothing clicks until she takes a DNA test. She expected to find that she is 100% Jewish but the test reveals something else altogether. She is biologically related to her mother but not to her father. Gradually, more details come to light. Before Shapiro was born, her parents had visited an infertility clinic known to mix sperm. Though she hopes her parents had not concealed anything from her, it becomes obvious they knew she was donor-conceived. Shapiro claims she had always known something was amiss. For Shapiro, who was devoted to her father, but always felt at odds with her family, the DNA results answer many troubling questions. The DNA results opens old wounds, leaving Shaprio completely unmoored. She describes how lost she feels in poetic language:"I am the black box, discovered years--many years--after the crash. The pilots, the crew, the passengers have long been committed to the sea. Nothing is left of them. Fathoms deep, I have spent my life transmitting the faintest signal...I am also the diver who has discovered the black box...I had been looking for it all my life without knowing it existed."Eventually, she has a meeting with her biological father whom she strongly resembles. They are brought together through the magic of social media.Shapiro digs deeper, investigating the way cryobanks currently operate. She interviews dozens of donor-conceived individual who feel just as exiled and lost as she does.As she forges deeper relationships with her biological family, however, Shapiro begins to see everything in a new light: as a blessing. Shapiro, who was raised as an orthodox Jew, is peppered with Jewish phrases and expressions. Her identity is still firmly Jewish, even if she is half Christian.She puts all of her previous writings in perspective, realizing nearly all of her works were about family secrets.Though she gives her social father "kol hakavod" (all the honor), she comes to cherish her biological one as well.Shapiro's story is so important in this age when DNA kits are becoming more and more recreational. As more and more individuals have genetic testing done, more connections will be made. The likelihood of family secrets becoming accidently unearthed--as Shapiro's had--will increase over time.
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  • Suzze Tiernan
    January 1, 1970
    On a day in which my best friend’s adopted son found his half brother through 23andMe, I happened across the review copy of this book. I couldn’t put it down. Such an interesting story, and her journey was memorable. 5 stars. Thanks to Knopf and Edelweiss.
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  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
    January 1, 1970
    ***Thanks to First to Read for providing me a complimentary copy of INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love in exchange for my honest review.***INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love is the story of a middle-aged woman, writer Dani Shapiro, who learns her father is not her biological father and her journey to seeing how she fits into her life.I never connected to Shapiro or her story, although I’ve read and enjoyed her books previously. If INHERITANCE were fiction, ***Thanks to First to Read for providing me a complimentary copy of INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love in exchange for my honest review.***INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love is the story of a middle-aged woman, writer Dani Shapiro, who learns her father is not her biological father and her journey to seeing how she fits into her life.I never connected to Shapiro or her story, although I’ve read and enjoyed her books previously. If INHERITANCE were fiction, chances are Shapiro would have written an entirely different plot, with more plot and less introspection. Her word building is gorgeous, but I didn’t enjoy the book one bit. I found myself skimming, not interested in her thoughts and feelings, which isn’t what I wanted out of the story. I wanted to feel her heartbreak, confusion and pain, but did not. INHERITANCE is probably a case of it’s not you, it’s me, so read other reviews before deciding.
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    Engaging and often riveting account of a middle-aged woman’s surprise at learning she is not the biological daughter of the father she revered. She learns her mother had visited a clinic for infertility and persuades herself, at least initially, that her Jewish Orthodox father could not have known. The truth as best she can determine is fascinating and the author does a great job of sharing her tale with us. I received my copy from Penguin’s First to Read Program.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.It is a testament to Shapiro's writing that I found myself continuing to read even on nights when I was too tired to think. My experience with memoirs that are written during or shortly after a life-changing event is that they can feel muddled, often as if the author has not processed his/her feelings before sharing them. However, this is not the case with Inheritance. Shapiro wrote her memoir in her mid-50s as she was going through I received a free digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.It is a testament to Shapiro's writing that I found myself continuing to read even on nights when I was too tired to think. My experience with memoirs that are written during or shortly after a life-changing event is that they can feel muddled, often as if the author has not processed his/her feelings before sharing them. However, this is not the case with Inheritance. Shapiro wrote her memoir in her mid-50s as she was going through the process of discovering that her deceased father had not been her biological father. There is an immediacy and a tautness to her book that allows the reader to share in her experiences and feelings. While Shapiro very briefly touches on the history of artificial insemination, genetics, and ethics, this is mostly a very personal and touching account of having her life turned upside down and inside out. There are a range of questions and emotions she grapples with after finding out that she is only half-Jewish despite being raised in an Orthodox family, and of coming to terms with the fact that most of the major "players" involved in her story have passed away. The end of the book is a bit abrupt and I found myself wanting an epilogue, however, this is a fascinating and compelling memoir.
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  • Renée Goldfarb
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Penguin's First to Read program, I was able to read an advance copy of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (available Jan. 15). The best-selling author discovered, through DNA testing on Ancestry, that her father wasn't her biological father. Dani was raised in a religious Jewish family, but always looked different than her relatives with her blond hair and blue eyes. After this discovery, the author grapples with the question, "Who Am I?" This is a Thanks to Penguin's First to Read program, I was able to read an advance copy of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (available Jan. 15). The best-selling author discovered, through DNA testing on Ancestry, that her father wasn't her biological father. Dani was raised in a religious Jewish family, but always looked different than her relatives with her blond hair and blue eyes. After this discovery, the author grapples with the question, "Who Am I?" This is a quick read and one that I had a hard time putting down. I highly recommend the book!
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  • Kristi Richardson
    January 1, 1970
    How would you feel if through a DNA test you found that your father wasn't your father? This is the premise of Dani Shapiro's book and how she coped and survived this nightmare. I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book given to me by the Penguin's First Reads program. I can only imagine how I would feel if the same thing happened to me. I learned more about invitro fertilization and the danger of using a questionable ethics clinic. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in How would you feel if through a DNA test you found that your father wasn't your father? This is the premise of Dani Shapiro's book and how she coped and survived this nightmare. I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book given to me by the Penguin's First Reads program. I can only imagine how I would feel if the same thing happened to me. I learned more about invitro fertilization and the danger of using a questionable ethics clinic. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in science and healthcare in this modern age. This was a moving story handled with wit and candor.
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  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
    January 1, 1970
    I have to confess that I was hooked by "genealogy" in the subtitle, and not as much by the "paternity and love." But I did read every word, and these days, I skip anything that isn't keeping my interest. I enjoyed learning how Dani Shapiro and her husband Michael, a journalist, tracked down Dani's biological father after Dani took a DNA test that came up with surprising results. On the other hand, I sometimes became exasperated with Dani's melodrama when it came to how this would change her life I have to confess that I was hooked by "genealogy" in the subtitle, and not as much by the "paternity and love." But I did read every word, and these days, I skip anything that isn't keeping my interest. I enjoyed learning how Dani Shapiro and her husband Michael, a journalist, tracked down Dani's biological father after Dani took a DNA test that came up with surprising results. On the other hand, I sometimes became exasperated with Dani's melodrama when it came to how this would change her life. As a woman in her fifties, Dani is pretty much who she is already and while it's certainly understandable that she would want to know how her surprise paternity came to be, it's hardy likely to make her a different person. In any case, the story unfolds nicely as a true life mystery and everything works out pretty well in the end, which left me feeling upbeat about the book. (Thanks to Penguin First to Read Program for a digital review copy.)
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  • Sally Stieglitz
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written and poignant memoir in which self examination is like a kaleidoscope, shifting at every turn. The questions, Who am I, Why am I who I am, resonate for all readers and especially for memoirist Dani Shapiro whose foundation, her family and her identity, have informed and reformed her writings. This compelling story is almost a Sherlockian mystery. I hope to read more of Shapiro's journey if she chooses to share it with readers.
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  • Janilyn Kocher
    January 1, 1970
    Inheritance, the latest memoir by Shapiro, is quite poignant. I have read all of her memoirs, but this one was very moving. In her mid 50s, due to a DNA test, she discovers her beloved father is not her biological father. As Dani delved deeper into the mystery she faced many questions and apprehensive feelings. Finding her biological father took only a short time and through the Internet she connected with him and his family. It's a roller coaster ride of emotions, but ultimately Shapiro makes p Inheritance, the latest memoir by Shapiro, is quite poignant. I have read all of her memoirs, but this one was very moving. In her mid 50s, due to a DNA test, she discovers her beloved father is not her biological father. As Dani delved deeper into the mystery she faced many questions and apprehensive feelings. Finding her biological father took only a short time and through the Internet she connected with him and his family. It's a roller coaster ride of emotions, but ultimately Shapiro makes peace with it all.Thanks to Penguin First Read for the advance copy.
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  • J
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so moving... I loved Inheritance. Upon learning something entirely new about herself and the journey to find answers, Dani Shapiro's new book had me from the first page. It's beautiful and heartwrenching, a page turner that I did not want to end. I was so honored to win a giveaway for an advanced copy of this book.  Dani Shapiro's writing is so elegant and thoughtful... you feel as if you are on the journey with her. A simple DNA test, life changing implications... do yourself a fa This book was so moving... I loved Inheritance. Upon learning something entirely new about herself and the journey to find answers, Dani Shapiro's new book had me from the first page. It's beautiful and heartwrenching, a page turner that I did not want to end. I was so honored to win a giveaway for an advanced copy of this book.  Dani Shapiro's writing is so elegant and thoughtful... you feel as if you are on the journey with her. A simple DNA test, life changing implications... do yourself a favor and read Inheritance. Highly recommend.
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  • Cora
    January 1, 1970
    What an arresting book. There's something about Dani Shapiro's writing that is like a spiderweb: detailed and delicate and elegant, but with surprising tensile strength behind it, and this story was incredibly moving: her discovery, and all its resulting impacts on her sense of who she is; her struggle to reconcile her memories of her parents with what she now knows; and her approaching of her biological father and his family with apprehension and tenacity. I found myself with a lump in my throa What an arresting book. There's something about Dani Shapiro's writing that is like a spiderweb: detailed and delicate and elegant, but with surprising tensile strength behind it, and this story was incredibly moving: her discovery, and all its resulting impacts on her sense of who she is; her struggle to reconcile her memories of her parents with what she now knows; and her approaching of her biological father and his family with apprehension and tenacity. I found myself with a lump in my throat many times, and actual tears during a few passages, especially the part where she visits her aunt, who seems like a remarkable woman. I will be recommending this one for years to come.
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  • Leslie Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    Wildly thought-provoking medical, ethical, and genetic mystery, Dani Shapiro opens up about her journey of identity in INHERITANCE. I finished INHERITANCE (Knopf, January 15 2019) in just two sittings (but it could have been one if I had been more disciplined). Here, she begins with a lovely childhood memory of waking in the morning hours and scurrying to the bathroom where she perches on the sink to gaze at her reflection in the mirror. Who is this girl? Seems this question has pierced Ms. Sha Wildly thought-provoking medical, ethical, and genetic mystery, Dani Shapiro opens up about her journey of identity in INHERITANCE. I finished INHERITANCE (Knopf, January 15 2019) in just two sittings (but it could have been one if I had been more disciplined). Here, she begins with a lovely childhood memory of waking in the morning hours and scurrying to the bathroom where she perches on the sink to gaze at her reflection in the mirror. Who is this girl? Seems this question has pierced Ms. Shapiro's consciousness all her life. Quite different in her appearance than other family members, Dani's skin was/is lighter, her cheeks pink discs, and her hair--so golden she could have been used as a 'bread-getter' in Nazi Germany. But she was full-blooded Jewish. The only child of devout Orthodox Jews, Dani never had reason to question her paternity. Until her husband says, rather off-handedly, that he's going to order away for one of those DIY DNA kits, and did Dani want one, too? What results is a medical/genetic mystery: Dani is not her father's daughter. So, who's daughter is she? And what of her personal identity, her culture, her religion? Ms. Shapiro writes with a gentle hand in this lyrical and deeply moving memoir. I was absolutely captivated and felt right there with her as she spun through time and memory. I felt her anguish and confusion, her defeat. And yet, she rises above it all--and just as any 'good' character, she is transformed from the experience. Not only does Ms. Shapiro weave in childhood memories, but she also touches on the history of artificial insemination, flashbacks to her younger parents, and how family secrets and identity have played pivotal roles in her other memoirs, as well as novels. INHERITANCE is presented in such a way that I found very captivating and even a few gasp-out-loud moments. This is one of those books that would make a good book discussion group--how many of us have used the services of Ancestry.com or 23andMe, or a similar test? What about genetics and ethics, and paternity...what would you have done in a similar situation? I'm coming up a bit blank on comps, but perhaps INHERITANCE could be likened, in part. to the novel, THE ONES WE CHOOSE (Julie Clark) meets THE GLASS EYE (Jeannie Vanesco). For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com Special thanks to Alfred A. Knopf for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.
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  • Edith
    January 1, 1970
    2 1/2 stars. Dani Shapiro unexpectedly learns, at the age of 54, as a result of a DNA test, that the man she knew as her father was not biologically related to her. She and her husband very quickly figure out (not a spoiler) that her mother became pregnant as a result of donor sperm. The memoir continues to follow her search into the circumstances of her birth.While I empathize with the tremendous emotional upheaval this discovery caused the author--a not entirely different situation from one in 2 1/2 stars. Dani Shapiro unexpectedly learns, at the age of 54, as a result of a DNA test, that the man she knew as her father was not biologically related to her. She and her husband very quickly figure out (not a spoiler) that her mother became pregnant as a result of donor sperm. The memoir continues to follow her search into the circumstances of her birth.While I empathize with the tremendous emotional upheaval this discovery caused the author--a not entirely different situation from one in my own family--I found it very hard to countenance her attitudes about it, especially those relating to her biological father and his family. I know it sounds ridiculous for a memoir to be described as self-centered, but I found this one almost unbearably so. An examination of what makes someone who they are is one thing; Ms. Shapiro's search rarely seems to depart from a simple, panicked repetition of the question. Considering the degree of importance she ascribes to her Jewish heritage, for example, it takes her quite a long time to be reminded that she's still Jewish: her biological father might not have been Jewish, but her mother was. She speaks for quite a while as if she's lost all rights to Jewish culture and religion.However, those of us who were adopted or are the children of adoptees, as Ms. Shapiro rightly points out, at least know what we don't know. Ms. Shapiro, looking back, realized how many times she had been asked for medical information and replied, confidently reporting the health history of her father's family, never knowing that it didn't apply to her, or to her very ill little boy. This was the point at which I found her the most sympathetic. The situation in which Ms. Shapiro found herself is becoming more and more common as more people have their DNA tested. Out of these experiences, perhaps a better book on the subject will appear.
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  • Kacie
    January 1, 1970
    This is a well-written, compelling memoir exploring when the author's DNA results uncovered a misattributed parentage. At times, the book was sad and reflective; at other times, it felt like a real-time fact-finding mission. The author explores family and identity in a way that is so relevant to our times.Recommended for anyone interested in genetic genealogy, and people who discover misattributed parentage in their own family tree. This isn't a nuts-and-bolts "how to figure out who your parent This is a well-written, compelling memoir exploring when the author's DNA results uncovered a misattributed parentage. At times, the book was sad and reflective; at other times, it felt like a real-time fact-finding mission. The author explores family and identity in a way that is so relevant to our times.Recommended for anyone interested in genetic genealogy, and people who discover misattributed parentage in their own family tree. This isn't a nuts-and-bolts "how to figure out who your parent is using DNA results" guide and can be a bit dangerous if someone tried to replicate the results without corroborating evidence (i.e. further DNA testing/triangulating genetic cousins using documented family trees), but it does provide insight to some of the emotions involved.The author seemed to think that without a first cousin DNA match, she wouldn't have been able to identify her bio parent. Not true. It takes more work, but if a person has only 3rd cousin matches as the nearest match, it is still possible to triangulate parentage. This has far-reaching implications: as more people DNA test, the likelihood increases that adoptees, foundlings, children of sperm and/or egg donors, and other situations, will discover the origin of their biology.
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  • Energy
    January 1, 1970
    Inheritance follows Dani's journey as she realizes that the father that raised her is not her biological father. We follow her as she struggles to answer the many questions that arise for her. Did her father know? Did her mother know? What exactly did they know and to what extent? What does this mean for her now? She was raised Jewish and she is very strong in her faith. Her ties to her father are steeped in going to Temple with him, but what now that she realizes she's only half Jewish. Who is Inheritance follows Dani's journey as she realizes that the father that raised her is not her biological father. We follow her as she struggles to answer the many questions that arise for her. Did her father know? Did her mother know? What exactly did they know and to what extent? What does this mean for her now? She was raised Jewish and she is very strong in her faith. Her ties to her father are steeped in going to Temple with him, but what now that she realizes she's only half Jewish. Who is she as a person? How can she reconcile the father who raised her with the biological father that is out there in the world, who while recognizing he's her father, for the time being, wants no further communication? I'm not exactly sure why other readers are upset that they are reviewing a memoir when the word memoir is in the title. This book isn't out yet which indicates they chose an ARC of the book, and yet, they are disappointed at the author's introspection. These are legitimate questions and concerns that she struggled with. There were moments of repetitiveness, repeating stories and antidotes that had already been mentioned at least a few times, and a final read-through before publication certainly would have alleviated some of those issues. But overall I felt the book was well-written and was pleased that Shapiro was able to adjust her beliefs to accommodate the new information she has learned, able to merge it with her sense of self.
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  • Evie
    January 1, 1970
    if I could give it 4 1/2 stars I would. Excellent book. Couldn't put it down.
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    I devoured this book. So much to reflect on - identity, what is family, How standards of science and culture can resonate decades later.
  • Valerie weber
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting story about Ms. Shapiro life. With so many individuals taking DNA tests, one can hear, read or might even know someone who finds their live turned up side down. I throughly enjoyed this book.
  • Kristin
    January 1, 1970
    Acclaimed author Dani Shapiro thought she had it all…fame, fortune and family. Raised in the Jewish faith, blond-haired Dani was continually questioned about her ethnicity, without too much thought. Until an impulsive DNA test came back with shocking results. Shapiro’s perfectly constructed memoir suddenly came crumbling to pieces sending her stumbling into a quest for answers and culpability. A compelling, courageous read certain to raise more concerns, spill more secrets and send more “Genius Acclaimed author Dani Shapiro thought she had it all…fame, fortune and family. Raised in the Jewish faith, blond-haired Dani was continually questioned about her ethnicity, without too much thought. Until an impulsive DNA test came back with shocking results. Shapiro’s perfectly constructed memoir suddenly came crumbling to pieces sending her stumbling into a quest for answers and culpability. A compelling, courageous read certain to raise more concerns, spill more secrets and send more “Genius Babies” into a tailspin. I promise.
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  • Rachel Smalter Hall
    January 1, 1970
    When I first heard about Inheritance, I have to admit I wrinkled my nose a little—hadn’t I already listened to enough memoirs about FAMILY SECRETS and COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIPS? I mean, sure, it’s one of my favorite sub-genres, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Inheritance, as it turns out, is a perfect little jewel of a memoir. Well into her adult life, Dani Shapiro took a DNA test on a whim—only to discover that her beloved Orthodox Jewish father was not, in fact, her biol When I first heard about Inheritance, I have to admit I wrinkled my nose a little—hadn’t I already listened to enough memoirs about FAMILY SECRETS and COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIPS? I mean, sure, it’s one of my favorite sub-genres, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Inheritance, as it turns out, is a perfect little jewel of a memoir. Well into her adult life, Dani Shapiro took a DNA test on a whim—only to discover that her beloved Orthodox Jewish father was not, in fact, her biological father. Naturally, inner turmoil ensues as she sets out to uncover the truth about her past. I don’t know how she does it, but Shapiro’s memoir is somehow an impossible combination of beautiful words, soul-searching insight, and fast-paced thrills. *And* her narration is amazing too—what??! I can think of only one plausible explanation: she must be some kind of word sorcerer.
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  • Sara Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free ARC of this book from First to Read. I wanted to read this book because those ancestry tests are catching on with lots of my extended family. I think people do jump in sometimes thinking it will be fun and not realizing the potential for life-changing news such as what this author Dani Shapiro received when she found out that her father wasn't really her father. The range of emotions she shares with the reader as she makes this astonishing discovery and how she searches to find I received a free ARC of this book from First to Read. I wanted to read this book because those ancestry tests are catching on with lots of my extended family. I think people do jump in sometimes thinking it will be fun and not realizing the potential for life-changing news such as what this author Dani Shapiro received when she found out that her father wasn't really her father. The range of emotions she shares with the reader as she makes this astonishing discovery and how she searches to find her biological father and to come to terms with how she sees herself is a good read.
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