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Finding your genes

At the age of 54, author Dani Shapiro discovers that her father is not the man who raised her. The genealogy test results show that not only is she fathered by someone else, but she also has a lot less Jewish DNA than she thought. Having been raised in an orthodox Jewish family, this raises all kinds of questions about identity and belonging. I was enthralled by Shapiro’s detective work as I joined her emotional rollercoaster to find out why, how and who. Inheritance by Dani Shapiro is a human story which raises some compelling ethical dilemmas and is well worth your time.

Shapiro always felt different. With her blond hair, blue eyes and pink cheeks she stood out from those around her.  ‘You could have gotten us bread from the Nazis’ and old family friend says to her as a little girl.

As she starts digging, Shapiro is heart-broken to find out that the father she loved above all, who long passed away, was not her biological father and the mother she never got along with is in fact her only known genetic link. (If there’s one thing this book is missing, it’s a deeper understanding of Shapiro’s fraught relationship with her mother.)

I won’t reveal too much about what happens next, suffice to say that it involves a somewhat shady infertility clinic, some experimental treatments and a few tight-lipped people. And as with many advanced medical treatments these days, a whole lot of ethical questions follow in its trail, which is exactly what makes this book an interesting read.

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro is published by Daunt Books, 289 pages.

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