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

"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 made last year about her father, and her struggle to piece together the hiddenthe story of her own life"-

DANI SHAPIRO is the author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Also an essayist and a journalist, Shapiro's short fiction, essays, and journalistic pieces have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of the New York Times, and many other publications. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, the New School, and Wesleyan University; she is cofounder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. She lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut.

*Starred Review* Imagine finding out, after 54 years, that your father is not your father. He may be the man who raised you and helped forge your identity by immersing you in his culture-in Shapiro's case, that of an Orthodox Jewish heritage that can be traced back for generations. He may be the one you turned to for emotional support through a confusing adolescence and confounding adulthood. But, as the modern technology of DNA tests confirm, he is not the man who actually sired you. For Shapiro, who adored her father and embraced her Jewish heritage proudly, the results were psychologically devastating and, as an acclaimed memoirist, too astonishing not to pursue. If I'm not my father's daughter, then who am I? With lightning speed and relentless determination, Shapiro tracks down the sperm donor who was her biological father and navigates an emotional and ethical minefield to create a relationship. The notion of identity, once so defined, suddenly becomes amorphous and untrustworthy. Shapiro's anguish over a flawed past is palpable; her anxiety regarding an indeterminate future is paralyzing. Page after page, Shapiro displays a disarming honesty and an acute desire to know the unknowable. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Before focusing on memoirs, Shapiro (Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, 2017, etc.) drew from her family life in her fiction. In her latest, she delves into an origin story that puts everything she previously believed and wrote about herself in fresh perspective. The author's relationship with her mother was difficult. "My single best defense had always been that I was my father's daughter," she writes. "I was more my father's daughter. I had somehow convinced myself that I was only my father's daughter." Eventually, she learned that she wasn't her father's daughter at all, at least not in the way that she had initially understood. Through DNA testing to which she had only submitted because her husband had done so, Shapiro discovered that she shares none of hers with her father's side of the family and that the sperm that impregnated her mother had come from someone else. But who? The first half of the book trudges through a bit too much day-by-day detail, as the author becom es convinced that there's no way these results could have been mistaken. It is after she discovers who her real father is, or at least the sperm donor, that the narrative deepens and enriches our deeper understanding of paternity, genetics, and what were then called "test tube tots." Sperm donors had been guaranteed anonymity, and the man she contacted was initially resistant to upset the balance of his family dynamic because of his participation in the procedure decades earlier. Equally upsetting Shapiro was the issue of what her parents had believed, separately or together, about her parentage. Had they spent their lives as a family deceiving her, or had they also been deceived? Then there was the doctor whom they had consulted when they were having fertility issues, "an outlaw" whose credentials were shaky but whose results were impressive. For all the trauma that the discovery put her through, Shapiro recognizes that what she had experienced was "a great story"—one that has inspired her best book. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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