I wanted to like this book. The subject is one that is certainly of interest to me. The problem is that it is slow to read and void of the excitement that I should have had while answering the question that the book asks. While I appreciated this deep dive into a part of Jewish history that is not always in the spotlight, the promises laid out by the author are not met.
In home DNA kits are all the rage these days. Whether they are used for serious genealogy research or just to satisfy one’s curiosity about their family’s past, millions have taken these tests. But what happens when the DNA tests reveal that the person you have referred to as Mom or Dad are not your parents?
This is the basic narrative in writer Dani Shapiro‘s new memoir, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love. In 2016, Ms. Shapiro decided on a whim to take a DNA test. She was shocked to discover that the man she knew as her father was not her biological father. This revelation led Ms. Shapiro on a journey to uncover decades old family secrets, the identity of her biological father and most importantly, her own identity in the process.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed reading it because it was thrilling to read. It starts with a huge question hanging over the reader’s head and does not let go until the final page.
Discovering previously unknown parts of one’s family tree is akin to being a detective.
Finding Your Roots premiered on PBS in 2012. Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., each episodes focuses on two or three well-known personalities as they learn about their family trees. The cumulative research of genealogists, historians and genetics experts is then compiled into a book of life. As the subject of each episode follows along, Mr. Gates either reveals their family history or answers questions to long-held family secrets.
Genealogy is a fascinating subject, at least from my perspective. It’s more than knowing where your ancestors came from. It’s about connecting the past to the present and revealing that the human experience is a universal one.
Genealogy (at least from my perspective) is fascinating. The more information you know, the information you want to know.
Who Do You Think You Are? (2010-Present) aired on NBC for three seasons before moving to TLC. Based on the British show of the same name, the focus of each episode is a performer who goes on a journey to uncover hidden parts of their family tree. Aided by historians and experts in the field of genealogy, the purpose of the journey is for the performer to answer the questions of their family’s past.
I think Who Do You Think You Are? is one of the best shows on television. It has all of the ups and downs of a scripted drama, with an ending that may be unexpected, but ultimately fulfilling.
Alex Wagner is the face of modern America. European on her father’s side and Burmese (modern-day Myanmar) on her mother’s side, Ms. Wagner went on a journey to not only discover her family’s past, but also discover who she is as individual.
Genealogy, to me, is very interesting. While most of the focus of genealogy is our individual family trees, it also speaks of the large family tree that is the human race.
A.J. Jacob’s new book, It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree, is not just about his three-year journey to put together his own family tree. It is also about finding distant cousins that he would have never even considered previously (a former US President, well-known performers) and the fact that underneath the labels of race, family origin, etc, we are one big human family.
The story was absolutely fascinating. It is fascinating because he discovered what many in the genealogy community only dream of discovering. Most of us can only go back four or five generations, if we are lucky. But the fact that Mr. Jacobs was able to make familial connections with strangers and go back as far as he did is amazing to me.