Book Review of
What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?
In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history–the life she had lived–crumbled beneath her.
Inheritance is a book about secrets–secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in–a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro sat in my TBR pile for months before I finally picked it up. I had heard great things about it, but was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to all the hype. That often happens with new releases, so I kept putting off reading it. I decided it was finally time to give it a try and took it on a weekend trip with me. It only took a few pages for me to be totally fascinated with this story.
We live in an age where science and medicine has changed drastically over the last fifty years. No one imagined what would now be possible with DNA testing and advances in medicine. As more and more people do basic DNA and genetic testing, we will be hearing more stories like Dani Shapiro.
This book makes you think, makes you question, and yet marvel at the advances in science and technology. It makes you think about family and genetics and what makes us who we are.
Once I started this book, I could not put it down. It is a well written fascinating memoir. It is also a book that reminds us that fact is often stranger than fiction.
I will say that this book may not be for everyone. It may trigger things that not everyone can handle. If you have dealt with paternity issues, not knowing who your parents are, etc. this book may be a really hard read for you, and you might want to avoid it.