is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more.

'Inheritance' by Dani Shapiro

Published October 22, 2019 Posted by

inheritance shapiroA psychoanalytic spin on the “unthought known” stream of one woman’s stumble upon the narrative of self, reflective of intuitive synchronicity, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love bursts the bubbles of vintage notions of the perfect family, or at least the façade of what the perfect family should have been.

In this memoir, Shapiro takes readers on a rocky ride through her personal genealogic discoveries; specifically, finding out after five decades that the man she knew as her father was not her biological father. Shapiro elaborates on how he was the only father she ever knew, and they shared an unbreakable bond until his passing when she was in her twenties. She tenderly recalls how he taught her about his Jewish heritage, which makes up a major part of the fabric of her self-narrative surrounding her paternity. She encounters rough waters throughout her quest, yet love remains the “unknown thought” she never gave up on.

Shapiro invites readers to jump on the raft with her as she ebbs and flows her emotional findings along the way in this compelling read. The book is set in four parts with fifty chapters, ironically close to the same number when Shapiro finds out about her painful paternity. The prose flows nicely but some of the moments seem to come together too nicely, such as the initial way that Shapiro explains how she found her biological father so quickly and so precisely on the first try.

Some passages continue to mention how others are not so lucky or successful but might now be able to have the resources to finding out about their biological paternity as Shapiro has. Most chapters flow together seamlessly, making reading the next a clincher to continue to root for Shapiro to ultimately find what she is so desperately longing for: love/self. There are instances throughout the book that privilege and normalcy have merits in how locating quick and accurate information about one’s inheritance takes place, whereas a sense of those without are well, Sorley Out of Luck (SOL). Those without Shapiro’s network might not be as apt to be able to put successful prose to formulate a marketable memoir on this delicate subject as she has here.

As a memoir, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love is an atoning self-discovery of one woman deciding to delve into this thing called life. Dani Shapiro takes readers on an exploration of her own life experiences where she shines the light on what it means to experience life; not just live it rotely.

Overall the book helps those with similar life themes to find hope in how their own narrative might make it over those rocky patches and for those looking for that intuitive “unthought known”—love is all there is to know.


Review by Hope Hills, MLIS
Hope Hills is a Digital Informationist who is an avid reader and writer. She’s a fan, an enthusiast, and a follower of interesting people, places, and things. She also enjoys being a foodie wherever she goes, tagging reviews while meandering here and there. Reach out to Hope @lisnhere411.

Return to List.

We welcome any/all Feedback.