Leslie Lindsay's Reviews > Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
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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. Shapiro's consciousness all her life. Quite different in her appearance than other family members, Dani's skin was/is lighter, her cheeks pink discs, and her hair--so golden she could have been used as a 'bread-getter' in Nazi Germany. But she was full-blooded Jewish. The only child of devout Orthodox Jews, Dani never had reason to question her paternity. Until her husband says, rather off-handedly, that he's going to order away for one of those DIY DNA kits, and did Dani want one, too?

What results is a medical/genetic mystery: Dani is not her father's daughter. So, who's daughter is she? And what of her personal identity, her culture, her religion?

Ms. Shapiro writes with a gentle hand in this lyrical and deeply moving memoir. I was absolutely captivated and felt right there with her as she spun through time and memory. I felt her anguish and confusion, her defeat. And yet, she rises above it all--and just as any 'good' character, she is transformed from the experience.

Not only does Ms. Shapiro weave in childhood memories, but she also touches on the history of artificial insemination, flashbacks to her younger parents, and how family secrets and identity have played pivotal roles in her other memoirs, as well as novels.

INHERITANCE is presented in such a way that I found very captivating and even a few gasp-out-loud moments. This is one of those books that would make a good book discussion group--how many of us have used the services of Ancestry.com or 23andMe, or a similar test? What about genetics and ethics, and paternity...what would you have done in a similar situation?

I'm coming up a bit blank on comps, but perhaps INHERITANCE could be likened, in part. to the novel, THE ONES WE CHOOSE (Julie Clark) meets THE GLASS EYE (Jeannie Vanesco).

For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com
Special thanks to Alfred A. Knopf for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.
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Reading Progress

September 15, 2018 – Shelved
September 15, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
January 6, 2019 – Started Reading
January 7, 2019 – Finished Reading

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