Book Review – Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA
by Richard Hill
Review by Don Taylor
I don’t often read books for entertainment. I read a lot of magazines and articles on the Internet, but not many books. Therefore, when I do read a book it better be good or I put it down.
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill was one I couldn’t put down. I have a half sister who was put up for adoption as an infant; she didn’t find her birth mother and family (including me) until we were both in our 40s. In addition, my best friend from high school was adopted and was in his 40s when he finally discovered his birth mother. Also, I’ve never known who my father is and have used DNA as a tool to try to determine a paternal connection. Consequently, finding birth parents has always been interesting to me. When I saw Richard Hills book about how he pieced together his origins through a mix of detective work and DNA, I was very intrigued. Could I find new techniques in my research buried in his story?
Finding Family reads much like a novel, however, we know what the ending will be. I was sure that the author would determine his birth parents before I opened the book. So, the ending of the mystery isn’t the important part, it is his path to solving the mystery that is the compelling story. We want to know how does he find out that he was adopted? What are the challenges he encounters during his journey? How does he overcome them? Those are the important notes in the story.
Hill does an excellent job of navigating the twists and turns of his search. His character development is very good. I found that I became interested, not only in his story but in the stories of the other individuals who both helped and hindered him along the way. I think he does a good job of not speculating on the motives of other people’s actions, but rather describing their actions.
The story does a great job of bringing us along through his process from simple investigative work, generating hypothesis and then trying to find corroborating evidence for those hypotheses He then brings in standard genealogical processes and learns more. Then initial Y-DNA testing leads him to new conclusions. Finally, modern autosomal DNA (atDNA) changes his original conclusions.
I enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it for anyone using a blend of genealogy and DNA to determine family connections. I think I’ll send a copy of it to my half sister. I hope that she will take it as inspiration for her to tell her story of locating her birth mother and other family. She is a great writer and also has an amazing story.
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 17, 2012)