Inheritance by Dani Shapiro


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 recently made about her father, and her struggle to piece together the hidden story of her own life.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 genea...

Details Inheritance

Release DateJan 15th, 2019
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Audiobook

Reviews Inheritance

  • Diane S ☔
    You're 54 years old, always felt like the odd duck in your Jewish family, blond, blue eyed, pale, but you were not prepared for the results of your genealogical testing. Although you often felt like you didn't belong, you knew who you belonged to, who your parents were, but you never expected what came in that little envelope. Your father, not your father, and although both your parents are no longer alive, you want and need answers. Who are you ...
  • Elyse Walters
    Audiobook.... read by Dani Shapiro!I love her! I love her!!!!!I *love* Dani Shapiro!!!!!I really ‘could’ listen to Dani read the phone book!!!Keeping with tradition... having listened to Dani read her books before - I made sure to ( again) soak in our warm pool - for hours -fingers getting pruney - while soaking in *Dani*!At least when I cried ( 3 different times) - I was already wet! Two scenes hit my emotions deeply. One when Dani was talki...
  • Brandice
    Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love is Dani Shapiro’s story of discovering at the age 54, through a simple DNA test, that her dad is not in fact her biological father - Something that was never known to her. I cannot imagine learning of this type of news, though I know Shapiro is not alone in this discovery. Her dad is no longer alive and she admits she never had a close relationship with her mother, who unfortunately isn’...
  • Marialyce
    Most of us think we know about those in our family who came before us. There may be an occasional surprise, but on the whole we are pretty confident who our parents are. Imagine if you found out that what you thought all along was not true. Would your world be rocked and those things you thought were so ingrained in yourself, be shaken?For Dani Shapiro life was good. She had a successful career, a loving husband, a solid belief in her Jewishness,...
  • Jana
    Wow. I don’t usually read a book this fast. I listened to this one on audible, excellently narrated by the author.I love her writing. This is only the second book I’ve read by her, but her writing is flawless. She makes it seem so easy, and I mean this as high praise. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the book is about her unexpected DNA results. It is in the description and the title. I really tried to put myself in her shoes. I k...
  • Michael
    My full review can be found on BookBrowse.A compelling exploration of paternity, identity, and belonging, Inheritance centers on a shocking discovery about the author's ancestry. In early 2016, after submitting her DNA for analysis through on a whim, Dani Shapiro found out that she is not in fact biologically related to her deceased father, an Ashkenazi Jew. The acclaimed memoirist has spent her career writing about family history an...
  • Julie Ehlers
    But here I was. An inconvenient truth that had indeed been born from his own body.... My very existence was due to the fact that he never dreamt he'd have to deal with such a thing.As the book description and flap copy will tell you, Inheritance is about the time respected writer Dani Shapiro took a DNA test as a lark and, from its results, learned that her father was not actually her biological father. This, of course, raised a number of questio...
  • Edith
    2 1/2 stars. Dani Shapiro unexpectedly learns, at the age of 54, as a result of a DNA test, that the man she knew as her father was not biologically related to her. She and her husband very quickly figure out (not a spoiler) that her mother became pregnant as a result of donor sperm. The memoir continues to follow her search into the circumstances of her birth.While I empathize with the tremendous emotional upheaval this discovery caused the auth...
  • JanB
    Many people participate in DNA testing as a lark, never anticipating the results will rock them to their core and make them question their entire life. This is what happened to the author when she finds out that her Orthodox Jewish father was not her biological father, and the ancestors and relatives who gave her such a strong sense of family and identity were not her blood relatives.The author beautifully articulates her inner struggles with ide...
  • Rebecca
    Dani Shapiro was used to strangers’ comments about her blond hair and blue eyes. How could it be that she was raised an Orthodox Jew? people wondered. It never occurred to her that there was any truth to these hurtful jokes. On a whim, in her fifties, she joined her husband in sending off a DNA test kit. It came back with alarming results: she was only half Ashkenazi Jew, and she and her father’s daughter from a previous marriage were unrelat...
  • Jennifer Blankfein
    Follow Book Nation by Jen for reviews and recommendations.Do you really know the story of your life? Author Dani Shapiro thought she did; the daughter of a Jewish mother and an Orthodox Jewish father, Dani grew up surrounded by, and enmeshed in Judaism, Hebrew, traditions and rituals. She had a deep love and admiration for her ancestors who came before her and she drew strength from just knowing about them. In Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, ...
  • Jess
    I thought this would be an interesting book similar to Carolyn Abraham’s The Juggler’s Children. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. Shapiro mentions her role as writer again and again as well as her desire to make sense of her life. While memoir is an inherently self-indulgent genre, I find Shapiro's unwillingness to examine her privilege very troubling. She has immediate access to information, many friends and colleagues with which to process ne...
  • Krista
    Their trauma became mine – had always been mine. It was my inheritance, my lot. My parents' tortured pact of secrecy was as much a part of me as the genes that had been passed down. As ought to flit through anyone's mind who sends away a DNA test “for fun”, when Dani Shapiro got her results back, she learned that her father – the man she had lost in a car accident thirty years earlier but who had remained the touchstone of her identity th...
  • Canadian
    Dani Shapiro grew up in an observant Jewish family. She was yeshiva-educated and a fluent speaker of Hebrew by the time she was in high school. Her father, Paul Shapiro, was the scion of a prominent New York Orthodox family. He’d married and divorced when young, then married a second time—to the love of his life, a young woman who would quickly succumb to cancer. Dani’s mother, Irene, a divorced advertising executive, became his third wife....
  • Zennifer
    Self-absorbed, white privileged author who is blissfully unaware of the real challenges of life as she ridiculously overreacts to genetic test results.
  • Sharon Hart-Green
    I am a great admirer of Dani Shapiro's writing, and this book did not disappoint. It is a beautifully told memoir that explores the true meaning of parenthood. Highly recommended!
  • Julie Christine
    All my life I had known there was a secret. What I hadn't known: the secret was me.Dani Shapiro was raised an only child in an Orthodox Jewish home by a beloved, doting father and a difficult, distant mother. Blonde and blue-eyed, Dani doesn't resemble anyone in her Ashkenazi family or even her New Jersey neighborhood, yet her Jewish identity is her touchstone. It gives her a sense of belonging in a world with which she has always felt out of ste...
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    The author is in her 50s when she finds out that her father is not her biological father. Due to her religious upbringing and strong family background, this throws her whole identity out of focus. Fascinating look at how the fertility industry operated in its early days and the challenges from the current trend of genetic testing. Wonderfully introspective account of how the author came to understand and accept her parents actions.
  • Marika
    Not many memoirs make me sit up and say woah. Dani Shapiro's book *Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love* is THAT book. Dani, like many of us, submitted a sample of DNA for testing and for fun, but unlike many of us, she received shocking news that her father wasn't her biological father. Her whole life Dani was always told that she didn't look Jewish, even from family members. So to get the news that her father wasn't her biolo...
  • Kathleen
    Shapiro is rocked by the results of her DNA test. Instead of the innocuous information that would confirm what she had accepted as truth for fifty-four years, she found out that she was NOT her father’s daughter. How could that be?It seems that her parents were having trouble conceiving and had sought the help of a fertility clinic run by Edmond Faris in Philadelphia. Her father had a low sperm count and the practice at that time was to mix spe...
  • Beth
    Meh, not for me. Well written, but I found the self -agonizing to be annoying.
  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    Inheritance was a five star book for me and those are so very few and far between."It turns out that it is possible to live an entire life---even an examined life, to the degree that I had relentlessly examined mine---and still not know the truth of oneself."Dani Shapiro spent years writing about her life and her family and had published four memoirs when she received results from her Ancestry DNA test.In a matter of moments, her entire life was ...
  • Jeannie
    I can't imagine how I would feel after getting the results from and realizing I am not related to my father. That is what happened to Dani Shapiro. She remembers looking in the mirror as a child and trying to figure out who she is, she doesn't look like any of her relatives. All kinds of memories from her past started taking over her thoughts after she received the results. Her father was Jewish. She had been told by a relative "you ...
  • Jennifer
    I like Dani Shapiro's writing but this book did not make me like Dani Shapiro. She finds out through a DNA test that the man she thought was her father was not actually her biological father. After digging deeper she learns about her parents' struggle to conceive and how badly they wanted a baby. So every time she called her situation "tragic" and "devastating" I wanted to scream at her. How is it tragic that your parents wanted you and would do ...
  • Sarah
    I read this book in two sittings—in fact, it is now 2:38 AM. I’ve just put down the book to opine to strangers on Goodreads that, despite a complaint from a disgruntled reader that the book is “self-indulgent”—I, too, was initially distrusting—trust me when I say that it gets better. If it speaks to you the way it has spoken to me, you’ll be up in the early hours, keen to find out what will happen next on Shapiro’s journey to disc...
  • Amena Ahmad
    I feel compelled to warn others NOT to waste their time or money on this book. An extremely self-centered, whiney, overly dramatic memoir of a white privileged author. I was attempting to read it for a book club, but half way through, I had to abandon it. I honestly could not take anymore of the superficial tragedy the author thought she went through. The book screams how out of touch Shapiro is with real life challenges. A few hundred pages of o...
  • Jeanette
    Well, I said the review would come in a week. But I guess I lied. Maybe the reason I forgot about it was that it was a hard one to posit. For my taste and as a memoir in general. Both!Yes, I am outlier. And I'm going to try to be as kind as possible. I doubt I will succeed- and that is probably why I "forgot" to do this review. And I did forget despite remembering to do the 3 others I read on that particular trip. Well, it's not to my taste at al...
  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
    ***Thanks to First to Read for providing me a complimentary copy of INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love in exchange for my honest review.***INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love is the story of a middle-aged woman, writer Dani Shapiro, who learns her father is not her biological father and her journey to seeing how she fits into her life.I never connected to Shapiro or her story, although I’ve read and enjoye...
  • Tammy
    I really identified with this memoir as I recently made a discovery though DNA testing. My grandmother was born in 1921 and never knew her biological parents. I found them through contacting DNA matches in Michigan. Dani makes a discovery that shakes her to the core. Mine was not a dramatic but evoked a lot of similar feelings as Dani's. Great read.