Family History by Dani Shapiro

Dani Shapiro's Family History, a NovelFrom the author of the best-selling memoir Slow Motion (“Chilling . . . her vision is unblinking”–“New York Times Book Review”; “Riveting . . . a breathtaking combination of candor and bravado”–“San Francisco Chronicle”), a ferociously paced new novel about a woman losing control of her life, her marriage, and her kids, and discovering that you can do everything right and still find the world you’ve made slipping away.

Rachel Jensen has it all: a husband she adores, challenging work in art restoration, a terrific teenage daughter, and a new baby on the way. Then her infant son is injured in an accident in her daughter’s arms, and that accident begets a terrifying lie. Set in a small Massachusetts town, Family History is about a family spiraling toward disintegration, the terrible force of guilt in children, and a mother’s nightmarish realization that she cannot protect her own child. Read more here… ⇒

(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)
Book Details:
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Fiction | Literary, Adult Fiction, Family Life
Published: April 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover, 269 pages
ISBN: 0375415475
Source: Public Library


No family is perfect. And neither are the Jensens–Rachel, Ned, and daughter Kate. Dani Shapiro doesn’t paint the Jensens as perfect. She gives us people like us–human and flawed.

In Family Historydespite their ups and downs, the Jensens seem to be basically happy, middle-class Americans. And Rachel finally becomes pregnant with a second child.

Kate heads off for summer camp, and on returning home, it is as if the child the Jensens sent to camp has disappeared. Her replacement is moody, tattooed, and miserable. What happened? This is never made clear.

The Jensens’s life as a family begins to unravel and the threads seem impossible to reconnect.

I probably need say nothing more. This is book falls into the class of “must read.”


Author Dani ShapiroDani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and has been broadcast on “This American Life”.  Dani was recently Oprah Winfrey’s guest on ”Super Soul Sunday,” and was chosen by Arianna Huffington to speak at the New York City “Thrive” conference. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School and Wesleyan University; she is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, Dani lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest book is, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life.
(Bio and image Dani Shapiro)

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