Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

This book is written by a successful middle-aged author who has published several books both fiction and non-fiction books. This one is about a very personal experience, which occurred to her after she took a popular DNA ancestry test. She received results, which indicated that the man (now deceased as was her mother) who she always felt was her father was actually not her biological father. She shares with the reader a very personal and emotional journey where she tracks down and meets her biological father who turns out to have been a medical student who donated sperm to some pioneering and perhaps questionable in vitro fertilization program, which led to her parents being able to have their own child.

There are so many fascinating aspects to this very personal, persistent journey where the author eventually meets her biological father, now a retired physician and some of his family. She shares her childhood memories of how at times she was told by people despite being an Orthodox Jew that she did not look Jewish. She embarked upon an obsessive adventure to try to understand if her parents actually knew that she was conceived with donor sperm.

Not only is the author a talented writer, but she was able to explore many leads and spoke to many people as she reconstructed her story. This included rabbis that knew her father and various people who knew about the pioneering, if not questionable, program where her parents sought out a solution to their infertility. In fact, one big question that the author pondered was whether or not her parents actually knew that she was conceived by a donor, or in other words did they believe that the in vitro fertilization was actually just increasing the chance of a successful pregnancy or did they know that there was mixing of sperm with her father and the donor. There were these and many other questions related to the search for a self identify.

This obviously is fascinating story, which I have encountered in similar forms over the years. There are also some very interesting movies, which have addressed various aspects of this issue. Examples of some of the films that have addressed these issues are People Like Us, Stories We Tell, Mother And Child, Admission, The Kids Are All Right.

I have also written about this fascinating subject in some detail in my soon to be published book ShrinkTalk. When discussing this subject, I often challenge myself in my conversation partners with the following question, “What would you do and how would you feel if you receive a letter from the hospital where you were born, which stated that they were computerizing their hospital records and they determined that you were accidentally switched at birth?” An alternative question would be “that your child was accidentally switched at birth with another child.” Would you want to meet your actual biological parents? (or would you want to meet your biological now grown child if it was your child that was switched?) and how would you feel if it were your child that was switched at birth and that grown child now was very anxious to meet with his or her biological parent? My friends to whom that I posed this theoretical question had very strong reaction to it. I also find that many people have some true variation to this story that they know that has actually occurred in real life.

All this makes this book a well-written, thought provoking book by a very talented writer who shares a very personal and provocative tale.

Category: AM - Autobiography or Memoir | Tags: , , , , , , , , Comment »


Leave a Reply

Comments on the books and the reviews are cordially invited. They can be easily entered at the end of each review.



Back to top