Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love” as Want to Read:
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  60 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, 272 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
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
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2018
Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf for the advanced copy.

I used to read a lot of memoirs, but now I find them a little self-obsessed and self-indulgent. Especially this one. I just could not, for the life of me, understand what the author was so upset about. She got a lot of answers that most people in the same situation would never get, and considering the circumstances, it all worked out pretty well. I just couldn't understand the angst.
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
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, 2019-release
This is an excellent memoir about a woman who decides to do an DNA test. She did it on a whim, not expecting to find out her father is not her biological father. It's a fascinating topic to read about. More than once I've clicked on links of articles in Washington Post or elsewhere that talk about people finding out family secrets as a result of those DNA tests. This memoir is special, though. It's has the added complexity of faith and that aspect of identity, which is particularly ...more
Sue Dix
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you and Penguin Books for this ARC. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I have only read one other book by this author, and I wondered at the time why I just couldn’t connect with her story. Perhaps this book is the explanation. Haunting her for her entire life, a sense of otherness, unconnectedness, must have come through her writing. Filled with painful honesty, Inheritance is a compelling memoir of personal discovery. I strongly recommend this book. It is an intense exper ...more
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
Margo Littell
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Inheritance is as lyrical and deeply moving as Shapiro’s other memoirs, but it also brings a new urgency to her well-honed personal storytelling. From the moment Shapiro accidentally discovers the secret at the heart of her very existence, her quest for answers unfolds starkly and sometimes heartbreakingly, and she brings her readers along with characteristic perceptiveness and generosity of spirit. There is stark beauty in hewing this close to the bone, and Inheritance is both luminous and cour ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This memoir, which is in four parts, is Dani Shapiro's most intimate memoir to date. Shapiro who has always considered herself her father's daughter is devastated to learn that he is not her biological father.

Despite clues along the way, nothing clicks until she takes a DNA test. She expected to find that she is 100% Jewish but the test reveals something else altogether. She is biologically related to her mother but not to her father.

Gradually, more detai
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Dani Shapiro took a DNA test. The man she believed to be her biological father was not. She discovered her parents difficult conceiving a child led them to a clinic where her mother was artificially inseminated not with her father's sperm but with that of a young doctor. A first cousin match led to the man's identity. Correspondence between Shapiro and her biological father took place. The eventually met. While I enjoyed the DNA story, the publication of the memoir revealing the man's identity a ...more
Suzze Tiernan
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On a day in which my best friend’s adopted son found his half brother through 23andMe, I happened across the review copy of this book. I couldn’t put it down. Such an interesting story, and her journey was memorable. 5 stars. Thanks to Knopf and Edelweiss.
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
***Thanks to First to Read for providing me a complimentary copy of INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love in exchange for my honest review.***

INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love is the story of a middle-aged woman, writer Dani Shapiro, who learns her father is not her biological father and her journey to seeing how she fits into her life.

I never connected to Shapiro or her story, although I’ve read and enjoyed her books previously. If INHERITANCE were fiction,
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a free digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

It is a testament to Shapiro's writing that I found myself continuing to read even on nights when I was too tired to think. My experience with memoirs that are written during or shortly after a life-changing event is that they can feel muddled, often as if the author has not processed his/her feelings before sharing them. However, this is not the case with Inheritance. Shapiro wrote her memoir in her mid-50s as she was going through
Renée Goldfarb
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Penguin's First to Read program, I was able to read an advance copy of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (available Jan. 15). The best-selling author discovered, through DNA testing on Ancestry, that her father wasn't her biological father. Dani was raised in a religious Jewish family, but always looked different than her relatives with her blond hair and blue eyes. After this discovery, the author grapples with the question, "Who Am I?" This is a ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, first-reads
Engaging and often riveting account of a middle-aged woman’s surprise at learning she is not the biological daughter of the father she revered. She learns her mother had visited a clinic for infertility and persuades herself, at least initially, that her Jewish Orthodox father could not have known. The truth as best she can determine is fascinating and the author does a great job of sharing her tale with us. I received my copy from Penguin’s First to Read Program.
Kristi Richardson
How would you feel if through a DNA test you found that your father wasn't your father? This is the premise of Dani Shapiro's book and how she coped and survived this nightmare.

I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book given to me by the Penguin's First Reads program. I can only imagine how I would feel if the same thing happened to me.

I learned more about invitro fertilization and the danger of using a questionable ethics clinic. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have to confess that I was hooked by "genealogy" in the subtitle, and not as much by the "paternity and love." But I did read every word, and these days, I skip anything that isn't keeping my interest. I enjoyed learning how Dani Shapiro and her husband Michael, a journalist, tracked down Dani's biological father after Dani took a DNA test that came up with surprising results. On the other hand, I sometimes became exasperated with Dani's melodrama when it came to how this would change her life ...more
Sally Stieglitz
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and poignant memoir in which self examination is like a kaleidoscope, shifting at every turn. The questions, Who am I, Why am I who I am, resonate for all readers and especially for memoirist Dani Shapiro whose foundation, her family and her identity, have informed and reformed her writings. This compelling story is almost a Sherlockian mystery. I hope to read more of Shapiro's journey if she chooses to share it with readers.
Janilyn Kocher
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Inheritance, the latest memoir by Shapiro, is quite poignant. I have read all of her memoirs, but this one was very moving. In her mid 50s, due to a DNA test, she discovers her beloved father is not her biological father. As Dani delved deeper into the mystery she faced many questions and apprehensive feelings. Finding her biological father took only a short time and through the Internet she connected with him and his family. It's a roller coaster ride of emotions, but ultimately Shapiro makes p ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so moving... I loved Inheritance. Upon learning something entirely new about herself and the journey to find answers, Dani Shapiro's new book had me from the first page. It's beautiful and heartwrenching, a page turner that I did not want to end. I was so honored to win a giveaway for an advanced copy of this book.  Dani Shapiro's writing is so elegant and thoughtful... you feel as if you are on the journey with her. A simple DNA test, life changing implications... do yourself a fa ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
What an arresting book. There's something about Dani Shapiro's writing that is like a spiderweb: detailed and delicate and elegant, but with surprising tensile strength behind it, and this story was incredibly moving: her discovery, and all its resulting impacts on her sense of who she is; her struggle to reconcile her memories of her parents with what she now knows; and her approaching of her biological father and his family with apprehension and tenacity. I found myself with a lump in my throa ...more
Leslie Lindsay
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wildly thought-provoking medical, ethical, and genetic mystery, Dani Shapiro opens up about her journey of identity in INHERITANCE.

I finished INHERITANCE (Knopf, January 15 2019) in just two sittings (but it could have been one if I had been more disciplined). Here, she begins with a lovely childhood memory of waking in the morning hours and scurrying to the bathroom where she perches on the sink to gaze at her reflection in the mirror. Who is this girl?

Seems this question has pierced Ms. Sha
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: autobiography, memoir
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
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Inheritance follows Dani's journey as she realizes that the father that raised her is not her biological father. We follow her as she struggles to answer the many questions that arise for her. Did her father know? Did her mother know? What exactly did they know and to what extent? What does this mean for her now? She was raised Jewish and she is very strong in her faith. Her ties to her father are steeped in going to Temple with him, but what now that she realizes she's only half Jewish. Who is ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
if I could give it 4 1/2 stars I would. Excellent book. Couldn't put it down.
Valerie weber
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting story about Ms. Shapiro life. With so many individuals taking DNA tests, one can hear, read or might even know someone who finds their live turned up side down. I throughly enjoyed this book.
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Acclaimed author Dani Shapiro thought she had it all…fame, fortune and family. Raised in the Jewish faith, blond-haired Dani was continually questioned about her ethnicity, without too much thought. Until an impulsive DNA test came back with shocking results. Shapiro’s perfectly constructed memoir suddenly came crumbling to pieces sending her stumbling into a quest for answers and culpability. A compelling, courageous read certain to raise more concerns, spill more secrets and send more “Genius ...more
Rachel Smalter Hall
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I first heard about Inheritance, I have to admit I wrinkled my nose a little—hadn’t I already listened to enough memoirs about FAMILY SECRETS and COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIPS? I mean, sure, it’s one of my favorite sub-genres, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Inheritance, as it turns out, is a perfect little jewel of a memoir. Well into her adult life, Dani Shapiro took a DNA test on a whim—only to discover that her beloved Orthodox Jewish father was not, in fact, her biol ...more
Sara Smith
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: early-reads
I received a free ARC of this book from First to Read.

I wanted to read this book because those ancestry tests are catching on with lots of my extended family. I think people do jump in sometimes thinking it will be fun and not realizing the potential for life-changing news such as what this author Dani Shapiro received when she found out that her father wasn't really her father.

The range of emotions she shares with the reader as she makes this astonishing discovery and how she searches to find
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dani Shapiro discovered a family secret that fractured her sense of personal identity to the bedrock. In this memoir, she walks through the discovery process--which is fascinating and timely, involving social media and DNA websites--and also the aftermath, the weaving of a new narrative and a new peace.

Her writing voice is insightful yet personable, and I found this one of the more unputdownable (even though quiet) reads I've had in awhile. I can't wait to get my hands on her backlist!

Thanks t
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
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.