Inheritance

Inheritance

by Dani Shapiro

Overview: 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.

Deanna Boe (06/05/19): Dani Shapiro is an author who had a very interesting thing happen in her life. Her husband decided he was going to send in his sample to “Ancestry.com” to find out about his families’ ancestry. He asked if she would also like to do this. She had never considered it in the past, and only casually went ahead and sent it in never contemplating how this simple act would drastically change her life forever. Shapiro was in for a huge surprise! The results totally turned her life upside down. She discovered that the man she had always considered her father was not. Instead of being 100% Jewish in her ancestry, she was only half. How could this be?

It was true all of her life she had people say to her “You are not Jewish!” Or “you don’t look Jewish.” One man she knew was quite emphatic about it, but even with comments like this she never wavered in her belief that her “father” was her “father” and she was 100% Jewish. Why did people feel this way? She was blond, blue-eyed, and very fair in her complexion. Even as a child she would look in a mirror and contemplate why she looked this way when everyone else in her family, relatives, and past generations had been dark and looked what people can refer to as “Jewish.” Even a relative who had survived the concentration camps had mentioned she would have been able to help save them with Hitler with her blond looks.

Amazingly enough, within a matter of two days she and her husband had tracked down through the internet what they comfortably felt was her biological father. This is one time I hesitate to tell you more since it would spoil just how this was accomplished and the final results. It was an amazing discovery. Shapiro had always been very proud of her father’s side of the family and the many Jewish accomplishments they had achieved. Now, all of this had to be readjusted in her mind about who she was and why. How do you think you would feel if you discovered this about you? I like her writing and will find other books she has written.
Rating: *****

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