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Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  13,628 ratings  ·  2,083 reviews
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 ineffabl
Hardcover, 252 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Nina It’s my understanding that yes, she did change names and that also she had been very clear all along and her correspondence with him that she would…moreIt’s my understanding that yes, she did change names and that also she had been very clear all along and her correspondence with him that she would probably write about the experience one day.(less)
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4.01  · 
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 ·  13,628 ratings  ·  2,083 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook.... read by Dani

I love her!
I love her!!!!!
I *love* Dani Shapiro!!!!!

I really ‘could’ listen to Dani read the phone book!!!

Keeping with tradition... having listened to Dani read her books before - I made sure to ( again) soak in our warm pool - for hours -fingers getting pruney - while soaking in *Dani*!

At least when I cried ( 3 different times) - I was already wet! Two scenes hit my emotions deeply.
One when Dani was talking with her 93 year old aunt.
The other was a phone cal
Diane S ☔
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
You're 54 years old, always felt like the odd duck in your Jewish family, blond, blue eyed, pale, but you were not prepared for the results of your genealogical testing. Although you often felt like you didn't belong, you knew who you belonged to, who your parents were, but you never expected what came in that little envelope. Your father, not your father, and although both your parents are no longer alive, you want and need answers. Who are you really, Dani Shapiro?

A rerrifically, honest book a
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love is Dani Shapiro’s story of discovering at the age 54, through a simple DNA test, that her dad is not in fact her biological father - Something that was never known to her.

I cannot imagine learning of this type of news, though I know Shapiro is not alone in this discovery. Her dad is no longer alive and she admits she never had a close relationship with her mother, who unfortunately isn’t alive either, thus eliminating the possibility for d
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, audible
Wow. I don’t usually read a book this fast. I listened to this one on audible, excellently narrated by the author.

I love her writing. This is only the second book I’ve read by her, but her writing is flawless. She makes it seem so easy, and I mean this as high praise.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the book is about her unexpected DNA results. It is in the description and the title.

I really tried to put myself in her shoes. I know I would be shocked to find out my father was not actua
Most of us think we know about those in our family who came before us. There may be an occasional surprise, but on the whole we are pretty confident who our parents are. Imagine if you found out that what you thought all along was not true. Would your world be rocked and those things you thought were so ingrained in yourself, be shaken?

For Dani Shapiro life was good. She had a successful career, a loving husband, a solid belief in her Jewishness, and a son who at the age of seventeen seemed head
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, autobiography
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
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
My full review can be found on BookBrowse.

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 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 tur
Julie Ehlers
But here I was. An inconvenient truth that had indeed been born from his own body.... My very existence was due to the fact that he never dreamt he'd have to deal with such a thing.

As the book description and flap copy will tell you, Inheritance is about the time respected writer Dani Shapiro took a DNA test as a lark and, from its results, learned that her father was not actually her biological father. This, of course, raised a number of questions: (1) How could this be? (2) What did her (now l
My sincere thanks to Author Dani Shapiro, Edelwiess, and Random House Publishing for providing this e-galley in exchange for my honest review. Inheritance: A Memoir of Geneaolgy, Paternity and Love was published January 15, 2019.

Dani Shapiro's memoir first caught my eye as she is a Connecticut author, my home-state. I have had my DNA tested and am doing genealogy so the subject is forefront in my mind.

DNA – it's all the news these days. Advertisements, articles, television series; it's no wonde

Many people participate in DNA testing as a lark, never anticipating the results will rock them to their core and make them question their entire life. This is what happened to the author when she finds out that her Orthodox Jewish father was not her biological father, and the ancestors and relatives who gave her such a strong sense of family and identity were not her blood relatives.

The author beautifully articulates her inner struggles with identity and what her parents, the ones who raised he
Feb 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
I thought this would be an interesting book similar to Carolyn Abraham’s The Juggler’s Children. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.

Shapiro mentions her role as writer again and again as well as her desire to make sense of her life. While memoir is an inherently self-indulgent genre, I find Shapiro's unwillingness to examine her privilege very troubling. She has immediate access to information, many friends and colleagues with which to process news, and yet the first hundred pages of this book are f
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 ...more
Jennifer Blankfein
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Follow Book Nation by Jen for reviews and recommendations.

Do you really know the story of your life? Author Dani Shapiro thought she did; the daughter of a Jewish mother and an Orthodox Jewish father, Dani grew up surrounded by, and enmeshed in Judaism, Hebrew, traditions and rituals. She had a deep love and admiration for her ancestors who came before her and she drew strength from just knowing about them. In Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love, Dani shares with us her shock
Feb 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Self-absorbed, white privileged author who is blissfully unaware of the real challenges of life as she ridiculously overreacts to genetic test results.
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Canadian by: Kathy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Their trauma became mine – had always been mine. It was my inheritance, my lot. My parents' tortured pact of secrecy was as much a part of me as the genes that had been passed down.

As ought to flit through anyone's mind who sends away a DNA test “for fun”, when Dani Shapiro got her results back, she learned that her father – the man she had lost in a car accident thirty years earlier but who had remained the touchstone of her identity throughout her life – turned out not to be genetically rela
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can't imagine how I would feel after getting the results from and realizing I am not related to my father. That is what happened to Dani Shapiro. She remembers looking in the mirror as a child and trying to figure out who she is, she doesn't look like any of her relatives. All kinds of memories from her past started taking over her thoughts after she received the results. Her father was Jewish. She had been told by a relative "you aren't Jewish". Dani Shapiro's father is deceased ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Meh, not for me. Well written, but I found the self -agonizing to be annoying.
Sharon Hart-Green
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a great admirer of Dani Shapiro's writing, and this book did not disappoint. It is a beautifully told memoir that explores the true meaning of parenthood. Highly recommended!
Julie Christine
All my life I had known there was a secret. What I hadn't known: the secret was me.

Dani Shapiro was raised an only child in an Orthodox Jewish home by a beloved, doting father and a difficult, distant mother. Blonde and blue-eyed, Dani doesn't resemble anyone in her Ashkenazi family or even her New Jersey neighborhood, yet her Jewish identity is her touchstone. It gives her a sense of belonging in a world with which she has always felt out of step. When Dani was a little girl a family friend, wh
Amena Ahmad
Feb 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: half-read
I feel compelled to warn others NOT to waste their time or money on this book. An extremely self-centered, whiney, overly dramatic memoir of a white privileged author. I was attempting to read it for a book club, but half way through, I had to abandon it. I honestly could not take anymore of the superficial tragedy the author thought she went through. The book screams how out of touch Shapiro is with real life challenges. A few hundred pages of overreacting to genetic testing. The woman was conc ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
The author is in her 50s when she finds out that her father is not her biological father. Due to her religious upbringing and strong family background, this throws her whole identity out of focus. Fascinating look at how the fertility industry operated in its early days and the challenges from the current trend of genetic testing. Wonderfully introspective account of how the author came to understand and accept her parents actions.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
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 a way. What mystery w ...more
Daniel Myers
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I knew this wasn't really the book for me when I started just skimming at only about 15% in. I probably would have abandoned it entirely if not for how short it is.

The main problem with this book is that the author comes off as just so unlikeable. The way in which she writes about her sudden realization just smacks of self-centeredness and privilege.

If I hadn’t been driving, I would have closed my eyes. You want the story of your conception to be at the very least corporeal. A man and a woman,
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shapiro is rocked by the results of her DNA test. Instead of the innocuous information that would confirm what she had accepted as truth for fifty-four years, she found out that she was NOT her father’s daughter. How could that be?

It seems that her parents were having trouble conceiving and had sought the help of a fertility clinic run by Edmond Faris in Philadelphia. Her father had a low sperm count and the practice at that time was to mix sperm from donors (often medical students) to better en
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Inheritance was a five star book for me and those are so very few and far between.

"It turns out that it is possible to live an entire life---even an examined life, to the degree that I had relentlessly examined mine---and still not know the truth of oneself."

Dani Shapiro spent years writing about her life and her family and had published four memoirs when she received results from her Ancestry DNA test.

In a matter of moments, her entire life was completely changed when an unfamiliar name popped
Jennifer Tam
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A stunning, thought provoking memoir - can’t wait to read more of Dani Shapiro’s work
May 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well, I said the review would come in a week. But I guess I lied. Maybe the reason I forgot about it was that it was a hard one to posit. For my taste and as a memoir in general. Both!

Yes, I am outlier. And I'm going to try to be as kind as possible. I doubt I will succeed- and that is probably why I "forgot" to do this review. And I did forget despite remembering to do the 3 others I read on that particular trip.

Well, it's not to my taste at all because of the voice of the narrator. And her pe
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. She lives with her family in LItchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest memoir, Inheritance, will be published by Knopf in January, 2019.
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land.” 4 likes
“There is in each of us a fundamental split between what we think we know and what we know but may never be able to think.” 3 likes
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