Review: Inheritance by Dani Shapiro


Title: Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Author: Dani Shapiro

Published: January 15th 2019, Alfred A. Knopf

Status: Read November 2019


My Thoughts:

In the Spring of 2016, fifty-four year old bestselling author and teacher Dani Shapiro, casually agreed to submit her DNA for testing through, in support of her husband’s new found interest in genealogy. Dani is shocked when the results arrive and she learns that her late beloved father, could not possibly have been her biological father.

For Dani this is a particularly stunning blow, her identity has always been very closely tied to her paternal Ashkenazi Jew heritage (a subject she has explored extensively in her previous memoirs). As both her parents are deceased, her father as a result of a car accident when Dani was in her early twenties, and her mother in about 2001, Dani can’t ask them to explain.

Inheritance relates Dani’s journey as she pieces together fragments of information to determine why it is that her father is not her biological father, and who it may be. It’s a difficult process, both emotionally, as she struggles to come to terms with all of what she learns, and what it means to her, and practically, given so much time had passed.

I found Dani’s story to be compelling, her situation may not be unique, but her experience is intensely personal, and she is honest about its impact on her. I did find the lack of objectivity frustrating at times, though it’s not my place to judge her particular issues.

A thought provoking and emotional memoir, Inheritance is an interesting exploration of identity, and belonging.


Available from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I via Indiebound

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vicki
    Dec 07, 2019 @ 09:50:32

    I liked this book!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Carol
    Dec 07, 2019 @ 10:05:08

    Nice review! I thought her complete devastation was interesting. Was it because the truth was withheld from her or was it the loss of identity with her father’s side of the family? Probably a combination. It caused me to wonder how an adopted person would feel reading her story. I was relieved when her aunt talked with her about being loved and belonging even though she didn’t share dna. I think she probably wrote the book too soon…it seemed like she was still processing the experience! She brings up interesting ethical considerations!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. confessionstm
    Dec 07, 2019 @ 10:41:53

    With technology today and the advances in DNA. I suspect this is going to come more common in the near future. I can’t image how this author felt. Her whole identity must have been destroyed. I would be curious to read her journey and how she found peace with it. Thanks for bringing this book to may attention Shellyrae

    Liked by 2 people


  4. Theresa Smith Writes
    Dec 07, 2019 @ 15:37:42

    This alone is reason enough for me to never want to put my DNA into an ancestry program. What a blow, to find out that way!

    Liked by 1 person


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  6. Laurel-Rain Snow
    Dec 09, 2019 @ 01:10:26

    I have enjoyed other Shapiro books…and this one sounds like one I would love. Thanks for the great review.

    Liked by 1 person


  7. BookerTalk
    Dec 09, 2019 @ 09:12:16

    I put this onto my wishlist having seen it mentioned a number of times during Non fiction November. I’m quite active in genealogy but have never done a DNA test -not really sure I want to. Even though I wouldn’t get any surprises like Shapiro there is still something about DNA that makes me uncomfortable

    Liked by 1 person


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  9. Trackback: Nonfiction November 2020 | book'd out

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