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Publisher's Summary

A deeply reported look at the rise of home genetic testing and the seismic shock it has had on individual lives

You swab your cheek or spit into a vial, then send it away to a lab somewhere. Weeks later you get a report that might tell you where your ancestors came from or if you carry certain genetic risks. Or the report could reveal a long-buried family secret and upend your entire sense of identity. Soon a lark becomes an obsession, an incessant desire to find answers to questions at the core of your being, like "Who am I?" and "Where did I come from?" Welcome to the age of home genetic testing.

In The Lost Family, journalist Libby Copeland investigates what happens when we embark on a vast social experiment with little understanding of the ramifications. Copeland explores the culture of genealogy buffs, the science of DNA, and the business of companies like Ancestry and 23andMe, all while tracing the story of one woman, her unusual results, and a relentless methodical drive for answers that becomes a thoroughly modern genetic detective story.

The Lost Family delves into the many lives that have been irrevocably changed by home DNA tests - a technology that represents the end of family secrets. There are the adoptees who've used the tests to find their birth parents; donor-conceived adults who suddenly discover they have more than 50 siblings; hundreds of thousands of Americans who discover their fathers aren't biologically related to them, a phenomenon so common it is known as a "non-paternity event", and individuals who are left to grapple with their conceptions of race and ethnicity when their true ancestral histories are discovered. Throughout these accounts, Copeland explores the impulse toward genetic essentialism and raises the question of how much our genes should get to tell us about who we are. With more than 30 million people having undergone home DNA testing, the answer to that question is more important than ever.

Gripping and masterfully told, The Lost Family is a spectacular book on a big, timely subject.

©2020 Libby Copeland. Published in 2020 by Abrams Press, an imprint of ABRAMS, Inc. All rights reserved (P)2020 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about The Lost Family

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Left leaning inferences

Left leaning inferences In this book.
Mostly good information. Will not finish, and will return.

10 people found this helpful

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Some Science Would Be Nice

If you want some science or a gloss on the challenges the subject raises to historical notions of identity, you will have to look elsewhere. This is a shallow polemic using DNA testing as a springboard to spout the usual talking points about ethnicity, oppression, victim hood, social justice, blah, blah, blah. Worthless.

10 people found this helpful

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Fascinating!

This subject affects many more than realize it. The author looks at the subject from, what seems to me, all angles. She follows one story throughout, which adds suspense. I loved the book.

5 people found this helpful

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I am a seeker

I chose this book because there still isn't that many options on books of DNA connections. I found the storyline riviting, and wondered what the "final" outcome would be. When we make the choice to submit our DNA to any number of companies dedicated to help connect our dots, I don't know that we're ever really completely ready for the potential aftershocks that one, small act creates. This gives all seekers a photograph of what is possible - on the positive, and negative sides - of uncovering our family roots. Highly Recommend!

4 people found this helpful

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Surprised

I was surprised by how much this book captivated my attention. The author does a through, yet entertaining, look at the challenging information coming out of the burgeoning DNA heritage companies. She carefully examines the pros and cons without trying to convince the reader to back either one. Rather, the purpose is to make the reader aware of all the issues so that you may be informed. The narrator presents the material in a clean dispassionate voice making this a must read book.

3 people found this helpful

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Well researched well written

The book the lost family by Libby Copeland was most interesting. The way she looked at how DNA attending our lives title provocative. It makes you rethink those holiday gifts. Well worth the time.

2 people found this helpful

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Spectacular!

I’ve been genealogy crazed since 1995, growing into genetic genealogy. Thankfully I had enough biology study to be a good amateur. This story and all the background details were spellbinding. In a phrase, best genealogy story ever!

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great DNA lesson

I loved it! I learned so much about DNA and what a simple spit test can actually result in.6

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Incredible - must read!

Makes you think twice about recreational DNA testing, our man-made definition of race, belonging, and searching for meaning (or whatever we might consider the truth).

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

The book is filled with great stories and fascinating history. I gave it a 4 only because there were some pretty dry spots I had to struggle to get through. I didn't need so much minutiae. Cindy Kay has a great reading voice, cadence, and inflection. Cindy and overall story line made the dry spots worth it for me.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 03-19-20

Ethical & other hazards of commercial DNA testing

This will be of interest to anyone who has taken a DNA test with Ancestry or other such companies. Although technical in part it is well written, and well narrated. A heart warming story of genealogical detective work and family discovery is interwoven with chapters dealing with the ethical and practical implications of this kind of readily available and very popular testing