Wednesday, February 06, 2019

First Wednesday Book Review, February 6, 2019

INHERITANCE, Dani Shapiro


Throughout her life, people looked at writer Dani Shapiro and told her she couldn't be Jewish. Blonde, blue-eyed as you can see here. At 54, when she sent saliva to "23 and Me", one of the testing sites for DNA , she found out her adored father was not her biological father. She finds out pretty quickly who her biological father is and attempts to forge a relationship with him. He resists; he was a medical student who donated sperm for the greater good. He was promised anonymity. The book details her attempt to get him to recognize and acknowledge her. I can say firsthand that secrets like this are extremely difficult for children.
The reason this interested me particularly is because I found out last spring that my "social' father was not my biological father. Unlike Dani, my parents did not enter into an arrangement together. They didn't go to a clinic where infertile people were helped.

I am fairly sure my father never knew I wasn't his biological daughter but still mysteries abound. Photographs with date changes; the absence of a pregnant mother. Insurance policies with name changes. All of it to be puzzled over.
So this book interested me on a personal level. I am not sure it would have it if I didn't share her situation to some extent. But maybe all of us harbor some doubts as to our ancestors.

For more First Wednesday Book Reviews, visit Barrie Summy. 

11 comments:

Barrie said...

On the one hand, it's amazing to hear what all comes to light with results from companies like 23andme. On the other hand, I can see how some of this information might be better left alone. It's all happened so fast. I'm sure Dani Shapiro's sperm donor never imagined his anonymity wouldn't remained intact. Thank you for reviewing and sharing your personal experience.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

As soon as I heard of this book, I naturally thought of your recent discovery.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hers is very tied up with growing up Jewish and finding that her father was not. She and her social father spent much time worshiping together. I guess there is always something you lose and something you gain with this sort of discovery.

Lyndi Lamont said...

This sounds like a very interesting book, Patti, and I can see why you were drawn to it. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Hope you find your answers.

Sarah Laurence said...

Patti, that must be challenging learning this information now when it's too late to talk about it with your parents. I hope reading this book helped you process this. Thanks for sharing.

I read the in the NYT review and was intrigued, although I fear her experience might be used to reinforce stereotypes. Three of my Jewish friends have blond hair and blue eyes as do their biological parents. Another one of my Jewish friends is Korean American. I look more stereotypical Jewish like my Dad but my Christian mother has blue eyes so I carry those recessive genes too. Judaism is a religion, not an ethnicity. I also believe the person who raises and loves a child is the parent, regardless of genes.

Stacy said...

I agree with all that Sarah said above. None of my Jewish friends have a certain look, and genes aren't everything in parenting.

But the questions are still intriguing. My husband was adopted as a newborn, and even though he was very loved, he's still drawn to stories about orphans.

Jenn Jilks said...

Isn't that interesting?!
I am adopted, and have little idea. I don't trust the spit tests. They seem fallible. Good review!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I got the same results from ancestry.com and familyfinder.com so I guess it has to be right. Darn.

Lucy said...

I once heard an author talk about the books we're drawn to and what that reveals about ourselves. In this case the draw is pretty apparent. Thanks for sharing your personal connection to this story. Sounds like a good book. Thanks for reviewing.

Anonymous said...

It does sound like an interesting read, Patti. And I'm sure it took on even more significance with your own background.

Powell River Books said...

I don't doubt who my ancestors were, but wish I had a stronger link to their heritage. Much like today, my grandparents were Americanized in school and were made to feel embarrassed about their home language and cultural ways. All I have to link me to their rich past are a few cherished foods at Christmas. - Margy