Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

August 26, 2019 - Comment

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  “A gripping genetic detective story, and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family.” —Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach    From the acclaimed, best-selling memoirist, novelist—“a writer of rare talent” (Cheryl Strayed)— and  host of the hit podcast Family Secrets, comes a memoir about the staggering family secret uncovered by a genealogy

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 

“A gripping genetic detective story, and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family.” —Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach 
 
From the acclaimed, best-selling memoirist, novelist—“a writer of rare talent” (Cheryl Strayed)— and  host of the hit podcast Family Secrets, comes a memoir about the staggering family secret uncovered by a genealogy test: an exploration of the urgent ethical questions surrounding fertility treatments and DNA testing, and a profound inquiry of paternity, identity, and love.

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.

Comments

Anonymous says:

Too much whining I tried to like this book, I really did. I cannot stand how the author likens her situation to those suffering trauma. 1) your mother did not have an affair and not tell the person she was pregnant, 2) your mother didn’t get pregnant by another man and make believe it was your fathers 3) you were not abandoned or adopted 4) two adults made a conscious decision to have fertility treatments and then raised you as their child (which you were) and loved you. 5) Why would you be mad at a total…

Anonymous says:

Mixed feelings all around As a medical student in the 1970s, I had classmates who picked up a little extra money by anonymously donating sperm for artificial insemination. The practice was normal by that point, moving away from the deep secrecy that shadowed Dani Shapiro’s conception and childhood. Her reactions to the discovery of her concealed paternity and her search for meaning struck me as off-topic in what I’d expected to be a book about unraveling the mystery of her origins in a much more concrete way. That part…

Anonymous says:

Beautifully written and truly profound After finishing the last page of Dani Shapiro’s INHERITANCE: A MEMOIR OF GENEALOGY, PATERNITY, AND LOVE, I wanted to take time to absorb what I had read. I’ve read and loved all her memoirs and I feel like this is her most stunning. The subject seems to be the most challenging, as far as a discovery and the path that it lead her on, the way in which she went about trying to find out what she needed to learn both about her subject and herself in order to write the book, and then, what she comes…

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