Join us for book group Wednesday, March 6th at 6:30
Inheritance, Shapiro’s tenth book and fifth memoir, is a quest to uncover a family mystery involving her identity. This time around, the catalyst is a genetic spit test taken out of idle curiosity in 2016. At age 54, Shapiro is shocked to learn that the devout Orthodox Jewish stockbroker she thought was her biological father — Paul Shapiro, the man who died in that car accident — wasn’t a blood relative.
Shapiro is shaken to her core by this discovery. If Paul wasn’t her real father and she isn’t who she thinks she is, then who is she? Where did the non-Ashkenazi French, Irish, English, and German 48 percent of her DNA come from? And, even more upsetting: Did her parents know this and deliberately hide it from her?
Inheritance reads like a detective story, albeit an emotional one. It’s full of twists and turns. Without divulging too much, I can tell you that Shapiro and her husband, two experienced reporters, crack the genealogical mystery with surprising ease. Yet that raises many more questions and broader societal issues concerning in vitro fertilization, sperm donors, and privacy protections.
“What next?” Shapiro asks. “I couldn’t imagine what might come next…It turns out that it is possible to live an entire life — even an examined life, to the degree that I had relentlessly examined mine — and still not know the truth of oneself.”