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.

Brenda Horne Bain (08/05/19): I’m going to veer in another direction in my review. While I found this book interesting and engaging to read, the author’s repetitive agonizing and rumination became tiresome for me. I understand it turned her world, as she knew it, upside-down, but we all have surprises in our adult lives which force us to grow and change. I will admit, this one would be shocking to the core. But I’ll confess that I began to get somewhat annoyed and wanted to say, “It happened. Adjust your sails and continue on your journey. You may never have all the answers but you have new horizons.” I think she finally got there, but I had to yell at her more than once in the process.
Rating: ***

Faith Bowers (08/02/19): This is an other non fiction I found from the Best Sellers NonFiction List and was also reviewed here. This reads like a story as it is an amazing one. Dani Shapiro has written quite a few memoirs after a some fiction. Though sometimes she repeated herself, she definitely expressed her reaction to life changing news. Finding a bio father that she had no idea she had reinforced why she always had wonderings about her belonging.

This book reminded me of the books and movies about the separating twins at birth in the 60s who had to be put up for adoption. This book was a fast easy read and learning how Dani Shapiro works through this new knowledge is fascinating.
Rating: ***

Debbie Weiss (06/29/19): I agree with Deanna that this is a very interesting book.  It is a memoir written by Dani Shapiro, a well-know and well-respected author, so the writing style is both poetic and pleasing.

When the Ancestry.com results come back that she is only 1/2 Eastern European, she can't understand how that could be. Her ancentors on both maternal and paternal sides came from that part of the world and were very active in the Orthodox Jewish Community for many centuries. She decided to compare her DNA results with those of her half-sister and it was determined that they were not half sisters at all! The mutual father that they shared was only the biological father of one of them.

This discovery shakes up Dani's world as she knows it. Dani's parents are deceased so she cannot ask them the questions that need to be asked to resolve all the questions she has about who she really is. The book proceeds to discuss her search for her biological father and the results of this effort. Many questions are raised regarding medical ethics and the scientific possibilities in the 21st century. I really enjoyed the book and couldn't wait to see what happened in each step of her journey to discover the truth about herself and her place in this world. Highly recommended!
Rating: ****+

 

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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