Book Review: “Inheritance, a Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love” by Dani Shapiro

Reviewed by Bev Scott

Inheritance, book reviewed by Bev Scott

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, describes her emotional journey when she discovered through DNA testing that she was not related to her older sister, Susie. Susie was the daughter of her father from an earlier marriage. The older sister looked like her Jewish father who Shapiro always revered. Instead, she was different…pale skin, blond hair and blue eyes. She fielded questions as she grew up about not looking Jewish. There was no doubt about Susie’s paternity, only her own. They were “not sisters,” but rather “no kind of sisters.” The DNA result was not a mistake. 

All of her life she had felt there was something amiss. She had known there was a secret. She just hadn’t known she was the secret. Her father was sorrowful and seemed to carry pain that she couldn’t fathom. She was different, an outsider. Something had not been right.

With the help of her husband, Shapiro launches her search to find the unknown “cousin” who was displayed in her DNA report. The memoir describes her emotional journey and the challenges of contacting her unsuspecting relative who may not want to get involved with newly discovered relatives. 

Having journeyed on my own genealogical path, I found this story fascinating. Dani Shapiro, a professional writer, engages the reader in her quest to uncover the family secret and the emotional challenges the truth reveals. This book will interest others who have pursued genealogy research, explored their own surprising DNA results or just wondered about a family secret.