Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, a Book Review

Dani Shapiro uncovers some deep resources in her soul when she enhances our lives with her writing. There is much craft and editing in writing of this quality. Nonetheless, God granted her a gift of depth and a voice to beautifully convey that depth to others. It is a treasure.

Inheritance is an astonishing expression of that gift. It asks a universal question years in the answering for most of us. Who am I?

She asks that question having established at 54 that she was not only conceived by artificial insemination but that her biofather was a Protestant medical student. That journey started when on a lark she submitted a vial of her saliva to Ancestry.com.

Having learned she was not completely, but, in fact, one half Jewish she expressed: “I did not come from the line of small, wiry, dark-eyed people of the shtetl, the men swaying over crumbling tombstones, prayer books in their hands. The imprint of pogroms, of the difficulties and sorrows of immigrant life was not mine—at least not in a physical sense.”

She broadens her approach when she questions the ethics of the artificial insemination (another version of the letters AI) of the 60s where today’s DNA discovery of the “anonymous” biofathers was outside the vision of its practitioners. Ms. Shapiro questions the nature of eugenics in the AI business, a philosophy which as we are well aware nearly wiped out European Jewry in the 30s and 40s.

The AI business aside, Ms. Shapiro helps the reader to appreciate the trauma of discovering a beloved parent was not your bioparent. That person was her late father. Some of the responses from relatives and friends on her journey of discovery are tenderly beautiful and poignant.

If you have missed her writing you night enjoy starting with this engaging memoir.

H. Robert Rubin, MD, Amazon best selling memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This? available on Amazon.

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