Editor’s note: Rachael Hartman is the Manager of GCPL’s Middlefield Branch. 

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

By Dani Shapiro

Dani grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family, the only child of her parents’ marriage. She knew her family history—her history—as it influenced everything in her life. When her husband decided to take a DNA test to find out his ancestry, he asked her to do one, too. She agreed, even though she knew that she was 100% Jewish. 

Except, she wasn’t. When the test results were returned, she found that she was only half-Jewish. Her world was rocked. At 54 years old, Dani was no longer sure of who she was, or anything she thought she knew. In record time, she was able to determine that her beloved late father was not her biological father, and that she was, in fact, conceived via sperm donor in the very early days of fertility treatments. What followed was a beautifully emotional journey as she, with the help of her husband and a few others, searched for answers—how was this possible? Who knew what? What about the religious implications? Who was the sperm donor, and did she have more family? 

I do not typically read memoirs, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was engrossed by Dani’s search to discover the story of her conception, and absorbed by the emotional coming-to-terms with her newly discovered “past.” 

Rachael is currently reading Dressing on the Side (and other Diet Myths Debunked): 11 Science-Based Ways to Eat More, Stress Less, and Feel Great about Your Body by Jaclyn London.