In My Hands Today…

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love – Dani Shapiro

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history—the life she had lived—crumbled beneath her.

Inheritance is a book about secrets—secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in—a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.

In My Hands Today…

The Ribbons Are for Fearlessness: My Journey from Norway to Portugal beneath the Midnight Sun – Catrina Davies

Fuzzy-haired, neurotic, cello-playing Catrina is devastated when her lover, Jack, leaves her to go surfing on the other side of the world. Trapped in a dead-end job and torn by his departure, Catrina dreams of running away. But how do you run away when you’re flat broke?

Luckily, her friend Andrew comes up with a plan: they’ll get an old van, turn it into a camper, and busk their way from Norway to Portugal, via the midnight sun. Andrew is one of her oldest friends and they share many of the same passions and interests, including music.

When Andrew is killed in a tragic accident, Catrina decides to go it alone, encountering one disaster after another. She sleeps in her van, gets lost, and struggles to find the confidence to play her cello in front of her growing audience, but meets complete strangers who offer her advice, encouragement, and support along the way. Her experiences on the road gradually teach her the real meaning of love, courage, and above all else, the importance of following her dreams.

In My Hands Today…

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream – Barack Obama

The Audacity of Hope is Barack Obama’s call for a new kind of politics—a politics that builds upon those shared understandings that pull us together as Americans.

Lucid in his vision of America’s place in the world, refreshingly candid about his family life and his time in the Senate, Obama here sets out his political convictions and inspires us to trust in the dogged optimism that has long defined us and that is our best hope going forward.

In My Hands Today…

Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels – Claire Chao and Isabel Sun Chao

A high position bestowed by China’s empress dowager grants power and wealth to the Sun family. For Isabel, growing up in glamorous 1930s and ’40s Shanghai, it is a life of utmost privilege. But while her scholar father and fashionable mother shelter her from civil war and Japanese occupation, they cannot shield the family forever.

When Mao comes to power, eighteen-year-old Isabel journeys to Hong Kong, not realizing that she will make it her home–and that she will never see her father again. Meanwhile, the family she has left behind struggles to survive, only to have their world shattered by the Cultural Revolution. Isabel returns to Shanghai fifty years later with her daughter, Claire, to confront their family’s past–one they discover is filled with love and betrayal, kidnappers and concubines, glittering pleasure palaces and underworld crime bosses.

Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, Remembering Shanghai follows five generations from a hardscrabble village to vibrant Shanghai to the bright lights of Hong Kong. By turns harrowing and heartwarming, this vivid memoir explores identity, loss and the unpredictable nature of life against the epic backdrop of a nation and a people in turmoil.

In My Hands Today…

The Foundling – Paul Joseph Fronczak and Alex Tresniowski

The Foundling tells the incredible and inspiring true story of Paul Fronczak, a man who recently discovered via a DNA test that he was not who he thought he was—and set out to solve two fifty-year-old mysteries at once. Along the way he upturned the genealogy industry, unearthed his family’s deepest secrets, and broke open the second longest cold-case in US history, all in a desperate bid to find out who he really is.

In 1964, a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped an infant boy named Paul Fronczak from a Chicago hospital.

Two years later, police found a boy abandoned outside a variety store in New Jersey. The FBI tracked down Dora Fronczak, the kidnapped infant’s mother, and she identified the abandoned boy as her son. The family spent the next fifty years believing they were whole again—but Paul was always unsure about his true identity.

Then, five years ago—spurred on by the birth of his first child, Emma Faith—Paul took a DNA test. The test revealed definitively that he was not Paul Fronczak. From that moment on, Paul has been on a tireless mission to find the man whose life he’s been living—and to discover who abandoned him, and why.

This is the story of Paul’s heart-wrenching and tortuous journey to solve both mysteries and finally learn the truth about his identity.