A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Book - 2019
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"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 made last year about her father, and her struggle to piece together the hidden the story of her own life"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2019
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781524732714
Branch Call Number: 818.5403 SHA
Characteristics: 247 pages ; 22 cm


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Jan 08, 2020

Interesting wanted to learn more

Nov 20, 2019

A decent, quick read on a subject of great interest to me. I've used two different DNA test kits with a preference to Ancestry and Family for free record searches. Were my foundations so rocked as this account I'd be bewildered also. I especially liked the numerous explanations & referrals to the Jewish history, practices, word meanings. I liked how she used the search elements and logic to the conclusion.

This author throws lots of messages (IMO) dealing with status, class, abilities that are totally foreign to me, which I felt were a bit too close to privilege or trying to impress. I don't give a fig for this information, was not impressed with that aspect. Just my view or perception. I also found this story repetitive and doubt I'd read any more of this author.

The recent (past 7 years) explosion in DNA searches along with more forthcoming documentaries on sperm donors, has opened the proverbial Pandora's Box. Many who hoped for privacy in such matters may be disturbed. In some cases it's comedic drama like the TV production of Almost Family, which can have devastating results. The need for an individual hereditary medical info is understandably necessary, therefore it's not just donors but absent parent history - male or female. in this case history it turned out beneficial.

Nov 05, 2019

What happens when the very foundation of who you think you are is shattered to the core? Raised as an Orthodox Jew, secure in the love of the man she knew as her father, Dani is at first slightly baffled by some unexpected results in her DNA test. Her quest to find out the truth leads her into the secretive, scattered world of fertility practices in the early 1960s, with certain faded memories and remembered offhand comments from her parents suddenly cast in new light. As Dani learns more about where and from whom she came, it calls into question the very essence of her identity.

Oct 15, 2019

A powerful and moving memoir that takes a deep dive into the world of reproductive technology. Dani is 54 and discovers through DNA testing that a man she has never met is actually her bio dad. The father she grew up with is technically her social dad.

"I had spent all my life writing my way through darkness like a miner in a cave until I spit into a plastic vial and the lights blinked on."

This discovery sends her life into a tailspin and she has chosen to share the intimate details of her journey in this book.

"Now, I was in a crisis of the soul. If I didn't know how to locate myself--in the roots of my history, in the geography that had formed me--how was I supposed to make sense of the rest of my life?"

Because Dani and I are the same age, I found that reading this book prompted reflection on my own heritage. As Dani explores the circumstances of her conception, she is reminded by an aunt that she is not an "accident of history." None of us are. This is closely tied to a conversation she has with the founder of the California Cryobank and asks him how many potential souls are stored at his facility.

This is most certainly a book with a timely message. The many ways people can access DNA testing are colliding with the anonymity promised in the past to sperm donors. This book showcases a situation where the parties involved found a compassionate way to move forward with love. Inspiring and thought-provoking!

Sep 30, 2019

Chapter 25 and Chapter 30 - will have most relevance to anyone, who feels a need for the cultural assurance that they are "enough" to be called--in this case-- Jewish. After all, we're all "mixed." Families are complicated. Shapiro is a great writer, but as other comments here indicate - it may be hard to fathom her crisis of identity as it pertains to faith. Great book for a lively discussion.

Sep 04, 2019

(Review Not on Blog)

I am probably in the minority with this one, but I could not get into this memoir. I didn't feel any connection with Dani. I didn't relate, like or feel invested in the outcome of her story. I did finish it, but there was moments I missed of the audiobook, and I did not rewind it. I was really interested in this story when I heard her on a podcast, and the subject matter was really interesting. I had recently seen a 20/20 episode of someone doing a paternity test and found out the doctor had injected his own sperm instead of the chosen sperm donor. Now with DNA tests for genealogy being so readily available, it will be interesting (and heartbreaking in some cases) to see what is uncovered.

IndyPL_CarriG Sep 03, 2019

For someone who knows very little about their biological relatives, this book was an eye-opener. When the author takes a DNA test for fun and finds out that her father is not her biological father, her world falls out from under her. It affects her more deeply than I think even she could have expected. Culturally and religiously, biological inheritance is important in Jewish culture – so she is terrified that she is an “abomination”. When her father’s rabbi tries to reassure her it falls flat – she wonders if she’d been lied to by her parents her whole life. When she connects with her biological father, through a combination of good luck, connections, and the awesome sleuthing skills of both her and her husband, he at first doesn’t want to meet with her, despite her successful career and family life. This causes her to feel something she doesn’t even recognize at first – shame. This is the story of a successful, educated, professional adult woman having to rediscover herself.

Some people might say, well at least she had a father – she should be grateful for that! I don’t believe Shapiro is trying to say that she has it worse off than those who grew up without a father, like yours truly. Please don’t be offended by her pain on behalf of us. This memoir was the process of her discovering not only her biological origins, but also the feeling of connection they evoked in her, and trying to figure out what makes her herself, and how to reorient herself after being swept away from the only origin she had ever known. As someone without a strong connection to my ancestors, I found it fascinating to read about her journey. It reminded me how diverse we all are - even here in the US, even with someone who looks like me, who is similarly educated, who reads the same books and probably watches the same TV shows and follows many of the same people on Twitter as I do. This was my introduction to Shapiro’s work and I am looking forward to reading more.

Sep 01, 2019

From book back cover, from writer Jennifer Egan: ‘"Inheritance" is Dani Shapiro’s at her best: a gripping genetic detective story and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family. It raises profound questions about the quandaries and responsibilities engendered by our newfound ability to know what—and whom—we are made of.’

Shapiro’s book appealed to me as, I, too, have ‘met’ cousins unknown to our family as a result of DNA testing and know of lesbian couples who are part of donor-conceived ‘family’ circles. In Shapiro’s case the culture shock and family secrets—especially those of her mother with whom she had a fraught relationship—reverberate. Not surprising. Still, I wanted to empathize more than I did. She mentions her Meyer-Briggs profile as INFJ; I’m INTJ—always had trouble as a ‘thinker’ with the ‘feelers’ in my life. Maybe that’s why!

Aug 23, 2019

Really enjoyed this narrative. The author is genuine and vulnerable in her exploration of what defines culture, family, ethnicity, and identity.

Jul 29, 2019

Found the content disturbing as for me personally, it opened an ethical Pandora's box

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