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

  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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’...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Brina
    Infertility. A subject that is taboo in orthodox circles but has become less so in recent years with non-profit groups devoted to helping childless couples have blossomed in recent years. Dani Shapiro was born in 1963 to previously childless couple Paul and Irene Shapiro. Paul had a daughter from a previous marriage but Irene had no children of her own and was approaching forty years old. How they wanted a child, an especially delicate subject in...
  • 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,...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Diane
    This is the best memoir I've read this year. In the very first chapter, Dani Shapiro receives her DNA results and learns that her father was not her biological father. And down the rabbit hole she goes, searching for the truth. This was a bit tricky because both of her parents had passed, but Dani had help solving the mystery from her husband, who was a skilled researcher, and some other friends who had experience finding genealogical answers.Dan...
  • Zennifer
    Self-absorbed, white privileged author who is blissfully unaware of the real challenges of life as she ridiculously overreacts to genetic test results.
  • Daniel Myers
    I knew this wasn't really the book for me when I started just skimming at only about 15% in. I probably would have abandoned it entirely if not for how short it is. The main problem with this book is that the author comes off as just so unlikeable. The way in which she writes about her sudden realization just smacks of self-centeredness and privilege. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have closed my eyes. You want the story of your conception t...
  • Beth
    Meh, not for me. Well written, but I found the self -agonizing to be annoying.
  • 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, ...
  • Lisa
    This lovely, heart-piercing memoir ends with the Hebrew word Hineni. "I am here." For me, that sums up this wonderful book. Shapiro's quest to find out about herself kept me spellbound. I loved this book.
  • Kimberly Dawn
    I have a few reservations about this book, although it is an enjoyable read. Dani Shapiro’s Jewish mother gave birth to her after artificial insemination including sperm from the beloved Jewish father who raised her from birth, along with the sperm from an anonymous donor. The donor is later proven to be her biological father.I take issue with the reasons for the fact Dani claims that she never felt as if she belonged in the family that raised ...
  • 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....
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • Celia
    Dani Shapiro is a well-known memoirist and has written some fiction as well.This, her memoir Inheritance, chronicles her actions and feelings after she had her DNA tested in 2004. I can only imagine how she felt when she found out her Jewish father was not her genetic father and that his first daughter, her half-sister, was no relation at all.She was able to track down her genetic father, pseudonymously named Ben Walden, because the site from whi...
  • Natasha Niezgoda
    This was wild!Okay so here's the deal - I AM OBSESSED WITH GENEALOGY! I have been personally putting my family tree together on for the last 4 years and it's fascinating. BUT NEVER ONCE did I think I would find such a scandalous surprise as Dani Shapiro did. HOLY FREAKING CRAP!To find out that your father isn't your biological father through the mere curiosity of a DNA test is HORRIFIC! But then to share such a personal story if incr...
  • 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...
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Candie
    DNF. I'm definitely in the minority when it comes to this book. I have heard good things about it but unfortunately it just wasn't for me. I read to 52% but I just could not get into it at all. There were some interesting insights into the subjectivity of our life experiences and the topic itself of DNA testing is interesting but the actual writing style and the author's reactions just didn't resonate with me. I just couldn't connect to her. I ha...